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Assistive technology: Home

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is equipment or tools which can improve the experiences and capabilities of people with disabilities. The following are a selection of free tools which you may find helpful.

Microsoft

Immersive Reader is a reading support tool integrated in Office 365's online version of Word.

This tool not only enables text to be read aloud through Text to Speech technology, but also enhances the readability of information and facilitates easier comprehension.

How to access Immersive Reader

Step 1:

Go to Office 365 at https://www.office.com/ and sign in with your student email.

Step 2:

Click on the Word app on the left side of the page.

Step 3:

Click the View tab at the top of the page and select Immersive Reader.

Dictate is a tool that is available for various Microsoft 365 products such as Word, OneNote, and PowerPoint. This tool utilises your computer's microphone to transform your spoken words into written text, offering valuable assistance to individuals who encounter difficulties with typing.

How to access Dictate

Step 1:

Go to Office 365 at https://www.office.com/ and sign in with your student email.

Step 2:

Click on the App you wish to use.  Dictate is available on Word, OneNote, and PowerPoint.

Step 3:

Click on Dictate in the home tab.

Microsoft Editor is a tool that helps you check your spelling and grammar and polish your writing style. 

How to access Microsoft Editor

Step 1:

Go to Office 365 at https://www.office.com/ and sign in with your student email.

Step 2:

Click on the Word app on the left side of the page.

Step 3:

Click on Editor in the home tab.

Step 4:

Ensure that your text is at least 100 words in length.

Microsoft’s web browser, Edge, facilitates both Immersive Reader and a simpler, Read Aloud function. 

How to access reading tools in Edge

Step 1:

Open the webpage you want to access in the Microsoft Edge browser.

Step 2:

Highlight the section you want to read and right click on it to find options for either Read Aloud or Immersive Reader.

Step 3: 

If you select Read Aloud, it will automatically begin to read out the section. A pause/play button will appear at the centre top of the browser and you can customise the speed and sound options in Voice Options in the top right corner of the browser.

Step 4:

If you select Immersive Reader, the text you have selected will reopen in a new format and a new menu will appear at the top of the browser where you can customise how the text looks and also choose to have it Read Aloud. There are also options for identifying grammatical features and offering picture dictionary options for some text. The Line Focus option in Reading Preferences allows you to isolate text line-by-line for easier reading.

If you have Windows 10, you can easily access the magnifying tool allowing you to make sections of your screen larger and smaller with just a few keyboard clicks.

How to access Magnifier

Step 1:

Press the Windows key and the plus-sign key together to make the screen image bigger.

Step 2: 

Press the Windows key and the minus-sign key together to make the screen image smaller.

Step 3:

Press the Windows key and the Esc key together to return to normal viewing.

 

Apple

If you use a Mac laptop or desktop, you can switch on a built-in accessibility feature which allows you to listen to text from a pdf, word document, or webpage being read aloud.

How to access Text-to-Speech on your Mac 

Step1:

Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, then click Speech and select the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed” tick box. Speaking is enabled when you press Option-Esc but you can choose a different key if you prefer: click Change Key, press one or more modifier keys (Command, Shift, Option or Control) together with another key, then click OK. 

Step 2:

To have your Mac start speaking, press the specified key. To stop the speaking, press the key again. If text is selected when you press the key, the selected text is spoken. Otherwise, available text items in the current window are spoken; for example, if Mail is the current window, an email message is read. If no text items are available, you hear a beep.

https://www.ahead.ie/Mac-Text-to-Speech#

If you use an iPad or an iPhone, you can switch on an accessibility feature which allows you to listen to content being read aloud. 

How to access Text-to-Speech on your iPhone or iPad

Step 1:

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content. 

Step 2:

You can customize the settings here to change the sound and speed of the voice you hear and how you access the features on your device.

If you use an iPad or an iPhone, you can use an accessibility feature which allows you to convert your speech to text in the Notes app.

How to access Speech-to-Text  on your iPhone or iPad

Step 1: 

Open the Notes app and look for the microphone button. To select the language that dictation uses, long press the microphone button, then select the language you want to use. Tap it to begin speaking. As you speak, the text appears on the screen. 

Step 2:

To finish, stop speaking, then tap the keyboard button.

Step 3:

You may need to edit your note. If dictation isn’t sure what word it heard, you'll see a blue line under the transcribed word so you can check it for accuracy. To make corrections, tap the underlined word, then select the correct spelling. To replace a word or section, double-tap it, tap the microphone button, then say it again, and tap the keyboard button.

https://www.ahead.ie/iPad-iPhone-Dictation

 

Google

If you use Google’s Chrome browser, you can add an extension which allows you to subtly change the colour of web pages you are browsing to make it easier to read.

How to access Color Overlay

Step 1: 

Search for Color Overlay  in the Chrome Web Store and select Add to Chrome. It will appear in the dropdown menu when you click on the jigsaw-piece icon to the right of the search bar. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions

Step 2: 

You can customize and choose your preferred colour and density by moving around and clicking in the colour square. You can save up to 6 preferred colours in the 6 square slots. Double click a coloured square then to activate that colour. 

If you use Google’s Chrome browser, you can add an extension which allows you to access a wide range of accessibility features online. 

How to access Accessibility

Step 1:

Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for Accessibility - A Powerful Web Assistant and click Add to Chrome. It will appear in the dropdown menu when you click on the jigsaw-piece icon to the right of the search bar. 

Step 2: 

Explore the range of features until you find what suits you best:

Text: You can change the font style on a webpage and choose a font that you find easier to read. 

Text to Speech: This option allows you to have text read out loud in a webpage. Select the text and then click the ‘Text to Speech’ button. 

Zoom: Increase or decrease the size of the font to make it easier for you to read. 

Mouse: change the size and colour of your mouse. 

Contrast: Sometimes it can be easier to view or read content when the contrast is increased. 

Dyslexia Ruler: This is a great tool for creating a horizontal line so you can read each line more effectively. 

Screen Tint: Add a colour tint to your screen – explore changing different colours like blue or beige, to help you read longer and reduce eye strain. 

Animations: Removes animation from the screen if you find these distracting. 

Images: This feature hides images if you want a simplified and low distraction webpage for reading. 

https://www.ahead.ie/Accessibility-Your-Powerful-Web-Assistant

If you use Google Docs, you can access a dictation feature which allows you to speak your content and convert it to text. 

How to access Voice Typing

Step 1:

Open a google document and look for the Tools option in the top menu bar. Select Voice Typing from the drop-down menu and a microphone icon will appear. 

Step 2:

Select the microphone icon and the colour of the icon will change to red (if it doesn’t change colour, you may need to insert a microphone or connect a set of headphones with a microphone). Then, just speak and type with your voice.