Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a term used to describe a variety of software and hardware that disabled people use to help them with everyday life, gain access to information and study. Assistive technology can often be used by a variety of disabled users depending on their needs so the disabilities mentioned are only an indication and from the manufacturers details.

There is also increasingly, basic and free assistive software available for download from the internet.

textHELP Read & Write 

Available in two versions, GOLD and Standard, this software has been designed to help computer users with reading and writing difficulties. Users with dyslexia and other Specific Learning Disabilities (SpLDs) are often recommended textHELP. The Standard software will read electronic texts aloud, spell check, predict words, has a dictionary and a homophone editor. The GOLD version includes a DAISY Reader (see the section on DAISY below), the ability to scan documents, a tool known as the 'Fact Folder' which allows you to capture text and graphics and organise them into categories to aid study.

ARACU has a copy of both GOLD (version 8.1) and Standard (version 8).


Standing for Job Application With Speech, JAWS is one of the most well known screenreaders designed for visually impaired people. It works with Windows on a computer and gives access to software applications and the Internet by reading the content and outputing it with a voice synthesizer. JAWS will also output to a refreshable Braille display. It is extremely comprehensive, uses keyboard shortcuts and even comes on a USB stick for taking out and about and using with any computer.

ARACU has a copy of JAWS (version 9).


Combined screenreader and screen magnification software designed for visually impaired people with up to 60 times magnification, different contrast colours and screen magnification styles (split screen or whole screen); screen reading of internet and windows applications, talk while you type, choice of over 20 languages. The programme will also output to refreshable Braille displays and note takers. Also comes on a USB stick.

ARACU has a copy of Supernova and 4 on USB for loan to libraries and students.


Available in two versions, 1000 and 3000. 1000 is designed with visually impaired users in mind and is software used with a scanner to convert print into speech, Braille displays and note takers. It even allows the text to be converted into Mp3 files and DAISY books. You can also use it to write documents and convert PDF image documents into text.

3000 is designed for users with learning difficulties, including dyslexia and SpLD's and is similar to 1000 in converting scanned images into text. It also highlights text as it reads and includes a dictionary.

ARACU has a copy of Kurzweil 3000 for testing.

Room 128 in the New Bodleian Library has a copy for use by readers.

The Bodleian Law Library has a copy of Kurzweil 1000 for use by readers.

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Speech recognition software which allows you to replace manual typing by using the voice to turn speech into text. It can control the PC, write Word, Exel and other Office documents, including email, and comes with a dictionary and spell checker. It requires training to your voice and comes in a variety of versions, including medical and legal.

ARACU has a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional version 10 for testing.


This is software that allows the user to create diagrams, outlines and mind maps for planning and organising work. Designed with users who learn visually in mind and often recommended for those with SpLDs' such as dyslexia.

ARACU has a copy of Inspiration version 8 for testing.


DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) books are digital audio books that allow easy navigation through texts by page and chapter. They can also be burned onto CD and contain up to 3-400 pages of text, the size of an average book.

DAISY books can be purely audio recordings or a combination of audio and text where the text is highlighted as the audio is read. Text can be turned into DAISY through software called EasyProducer and audio DAISY books can be listened to on a DAISY player, such as a Victor Reader or Plextalk, or via software called EasyReader. You can buy DAISY players and software through the RNIB shop.

ARACU has a copy of EasyReader for testing and 3 Plextalk Recorder/Players for loan.

ARACU can also provide audio books in DAISY format (audio only, no text).

MyReader Auto Reader

The very first auto reader on the market. In essence it is like a traditional CCTV/ Video magnifier where you place the book underneath a camera and increase the text size on a display screen. The myReader takes this further and captures the image on the screen, recognises the text and allows it to be enlarged, read in rows or columns and by single words automatically with a speed control. You can capture up to 10 pages at a time and have a selection of different colour combinations for contrast. The myReader is portable and comes with a carrying case on wheels. 

The Bodleian Library has a myReader for use in its reading rooms. It is currently being held at the Main Enquiry Desk in the Central Bodleian Library. If you would like it to be moved to another reading room within the Bodleian, please give at least one day's notice and contact Reader Services

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