Assistive Technology Devices and Software
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) defines Assistive Technology (AT) as: “products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities.”
Assistive technology can include something as simple as a pencil grip or as complex as a voice control program. Listed below, you’ll find brief descriptions of the three specific AT software programs that the Office of Accessibility Services most often recommends to Saint Leo students as well as general descriptions of screen reading software and magnification software.
If you have questions about a specific Assistive Technology tool or program, contact Accessibility Services at (352) 588-8464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sonocent Audio Notetaker
Sonocent is a digital recorder that allows students to capture the audio content of all of their lectures. Sonocent can be used by students who struggle with print-based text (which can make it difficult to take handwritten notes) or who don’t absorb information well simply by hearing it once. Sonocent allows students to focus on their lectures without worrying about “getting everything down.” The recorded material appears on the screen as a series of bars that students can color code as they listen to add additional context, and they can continue to annotate and add images later on, as well. There is an app version for those who don’t want to take their laptops to class every day. To learn more about Sonocent Audio Notetaker, see Sonocent’s FAQ guide.
ClaroRead Plus is the text-to-speech software most commonly used by students registered with the Office of Accessibility Services. Many of the students who receive their books in alternative format use this software program. ClaroRead appears as a streamlined toolbar on the user’s computer. The program is simple to use and will read text documents, PDFs, and text web content. Accessibility Services pays for a certain number of licenses to distribute to individual students; however, our subscription includes a site license, which allows ClaroRead to be present on all public computers on the University Campus.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Dragon is a type speech-to-text software offered in several versions to meet the needs of various individuals. The Office of Accessibility Services purchases a copy of Dragon for students who qualify on an as-needed basis. Oftentimes, Accessibility Services provides this program to students with orthopedic/mobility disabilities, who use the program to dictate essays, emails, and anything else that requires typing. Once the software is installed on the user’s computer, Dragon launches its own very thorough tutorial.
Similar to ClaroRead, screen readers narrate the content of a computer screen. However, while ClaroRead narrates content for students with learning disabilities, screen readers are used by individuals with more severe visual impairments. Therefore, these products read all of the content on a user’s screen, narrating not just the words themselves but also identifying functionality. For instance, if a word contains a hyperlink, the word will be read, but the software will also announce that the word is a clickable link, and the user can utilize a particular keyboard function to access that link if he or she so desires.
Many screen readers provide customization features for voice and reading speed. Some also combine screen reading capability with magnification and/or the ability to change the color of a screen or the text. Most of the students who have registered with the Office of Accessibility Services who use this type of software use the program JAWS. The NVDA reader is another option that is free of charge.
Screen magnification software allows users to magnify the content of their screens. These programs are used by individuals who have vision impairments but possess some functional vision. Some programs combine screen reading capabilities with magnification. This type of hybrid is useful if an individual’s vision loss will progress over time, as it provides an adjustment period for the individual to learn how screen reading software functions. A popular software that has been used by Saint Leo students and employees was created by a company in Saint Petersburg, FL, near the University Campus, called Freedom Scientific. The software is called ZoomText. SuperNova Magnifier, by Dolphin, is another popular program.