Assistive technology describes specialist hardware and software, which has been designed to improve the ability of the user to perform a task. In an academic setting, assistive technology can support a range of learning styles, abilities and difficulties and enables students to better able meet study requirements. This can result in more confident, independent learning during and after university and ultimately result in better academic output.
Assistive software can support a range of disabilities. The types of software typically used by students include, text to speech software, voice to text software, reading and writing tools, scanning and reading software, screen readers, screen magnification and mind mapping software. Hardware may include, ergonomic keyboards, large monitors (to support magnification), scanners, recording devices, adjustable desks and ergonomic furniture. This is a dynamic field, which is ever changing, with advances being made constantly.
How can I access assistive technology?
Most UK students in Higher Education with a disability are eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) funded by their education authority of funding body and often are recommended assistive technology. Republic of Ireland students can apply to the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) for equivalent support. For those students who are not eligible, the Disability Service does have a range of loan equipment. Further information can be found at the following websites or from Disability Services:
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
- Student Award Agencies Scotland
- Student Finance England
- Student Finance Wales
- Republic of Ireland Fund for Students with Disabilities
On campus support
The University has available some assistive hardware and software in its Student Computing Centres, to support accessibility to learning. The university also has site licences for text-to-speech software, Read and Write Gold, mathematical software EquatIO and mind mapping software, Mindview. The library also provides support for students with disabilities, which includes access to a wider range of assistive software and hardware.
Library Assistive Technology and Equipment
Free Assistive Technology and Apps
There is a wide range of free assistive technology available. Apple and Microsoft platforms also have inbuilt accessibility tools including reading text aloud, dictation (voice to text) and text magnification. For more information, follow the links below: