Increasingly, technology plays a central part in teaching and learning at NUI Maynooth for all students. However, some technology helps with the difficulties you may have as a result of a learning difficulty or disability. This technology is usually referred to as 'assistive technology'. The staff in the disability office will help you identify the right technology, show you how to use it, and arrange for the technology to be available to you when you need it.
When you meet the Educational Technology Officer, you will be asked about your experience of using technology, what works for you and what you might need to use it for in university. You can check to see if you have covered the basics and identify your training needs by printing off and completing this Skills Card. Many students will have their own technology or may be able to use this equipment in new ways, e.g. using the predictive text function on your mobile phone to check a spelling or using your mp3 player to listen to lecture notes.
The main areas in which technology can support student learning are:
You can use this software to have books or any text read back to you. You can select words and have them defined, spelled out or read back. Some users convert their reading into mp3 and listen to it on their phones or other devices. Texthelp Read and Write Gold and Kurzweil 3000: These packages allow you to have the computer read text to you. They can also be used to magnify text, make notes, check spellings and even save documents as mp3 files to listen to later.
You can visit the websites for these software packages and watch video of their main features below.
Users with visual difficulties can magnify the information on their computer screens so they can see things more easily. Zoom Text software allows you to magnify areas on the computer screen and have text read aloud to you. CCTV devices can project and magnify books or any other material on paper onto a screen for easier reading. This is a powerful magnifying device which can be used to read small print in books, handouts, maps, notes or any document.
These applications give you access to tools which help with spelling, grammar and presentation of your written work. Some have text prediction which works like predictive text on a mobile phone.
Visit the TextHelp website to view the Read&Write Gold Video Tour.
These tools allow you to plan and organise your work using colours, shapes, links and pictures. Inspiration helps you to plan and organise your written work using images, spidergrams and a variety of techniques.
Visit the Inspiration website to view the Inspiration Video Tour.
This allows users who are blind to access computers by 'speaking' the things happening on the screen. JAWS software allows users with visual impairments to access their computers.
Use your voice rather than a keyboard and mouse to control your computer. The Dragon Naturally Speaking application allows you to talk to the computer instead of typing. It is very useful for students with restricted movement, dyslexia and visual impairments.
Visit the Nuance website for more information and to watch the Dragon Naturally Speaking Instructional Video
You can also use assistive equipment including the following;
Alternative keyboards and mice
If you have restricted mobility or a visual impairment, there is a huge range of keyboards and mice that might suit you better than standard ones.
Everyone can benefit from training in the use of TextHelp Read & Write Gold and Inspiration, two very useful programs available everywhere on campus. To find out more about all of these technologies visit delicious.com/NUIMaccess. Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Assistive Technology Centre (ATC)
Turn your essay into a podcast. Have a computer type what you say. Use colours, shapes, sound and links to make your notes come alive. When you register with us, you have access to the Assistive Technology Centre, where you can use computers to work on your assignments, research online, access your email, print, scan or use learning technology.
Located in the Student Services building on the North Campus, the Assistive Technology Centre (ATC) is a computer lab open to students who are registered with the Disability Office. It is equipped with a range of Assistive Technology software and hardware packages. The primary purpose of the ATC is that of a technology training centre and a portion of each week is given over to Technology+ training hours. When trainings are taking place, students are advised that the nearest PACRs are Rye Hall, Callan Building and the Arts Building. All PCs across campus have the TextHelp Read&Write Gold and Inspiration software packages installed on them.
Information about the AT service is disseminated via the Access and Disability Office Website, the various Virtual Learning Environment Moodle spaces, university publications, University Open Days, the outreach initiatives, via the Library Information Skills Training sessions and through nominated MAP Academic Advisors within academic departments.
ATC Opening Hours:
Monday - Thursday: 9.30am-10am, 1pm-2pm and 3pm-5pm, Friday: 9.30am-5pm
Technology+ Training hours: Monday-Thursday 10am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm
For more information contact the Assistive Technology Centre at (01) 708 6722 or email@example.com
There are a range of free technology solutions which you can access online. Below are some of the most useful resources that are freely available to all students or teachers that are worth checking out.
Packaged Solutions Suite
MyStudyBar is a useful free tool that helps overcome common problems that students (or anyone) can have with studying, reading and writing. The tool consists of a set of portable open source and freeware applications, assembled into one convenient package.
Examples include: Xmind for planning and organization; T-Bar for customising font and colour backgrounds; Lingoes for when you need a talking dictionary; LetMeType for help with text input, and Balabolka for converting text to audio. And if all that’s not enough, there’s even a speech-to-text app which allows you to talk to your computer.
You can use MyStudyBar straight from a USB stick (if, for example, you are using a machine that is not your own) or you can install it directly to the desktop.
SpokenText can convert an entire block of text, document, webpage, or email. You’re able to choose through many premium-quality voices and select the voice speed and volume. SpokenText also gives you the option to send an email to you when your recording has been processed. User registration required.
Read the Words is a free online way to create speech recordings in English, French or Spanish in seconds. User registration required.
vozMe converts text to MP3 format. No registration is required and you can immediately download and save your text to speech recordings, in English or Spanish.
NaturalReader is a free Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod.
There are also various add-ons for Firefox that will read aloud to you from the web including FoxVox and Text to Voice. Install either by clicking on the relevant links above or open Firefox > click on Tools > Add-Ons > Get Add-Ons. Then search for FoxVox and/or Text to Voice to install them. After installation, you can highlight text on a webpage and right-click it to play aloud text with either Add-On.
Select & Speak – is a handy extension for Google Chrome that allows users to listen to text from almost any website. Speak It is another Google Chrome extension that enables you to have the text on most webpages read to you. Announcify is a free text to speech application that is available as a Chrome browser extension and as an Android app.
Screenreaders do more than read selected text aloud. They read the contents of menus and other metadata. Thunder is a free screenreader available for download in 12 languages.
If you find that your typing speed is slowing you down, dictating text may be an answer worth investigating. The biggest challenge for dictating your thoughts into a computer or mobile application is that you have think about what you’re going to say before you say it. If you speak in full sentences and at a normal speed, you will improve the recognition accuracy.
You can try out dictation as part of the Windows 7 Ease of Use tools. Alternatively, the following websites may be useful: Online Dictation and Talk Typer (both require access via the Google Chrome browser). You may also want to try PaperPort Notes for the iPad.
The Research Paper Wizard is designed to help you work through the research steps of writing your paper and meet your assignment deadline.
Bubbl.us is a mind-mapping product aimed towards literally anyone who needs help organizing their thoughts or any untidy information.
Easily create professional-quality flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, technical drawings, and more with Gliffy!
Mind42 is a browser based online collaborative mind mapping application.
Mindmeister is a browser based online collaborative brainstorming and mind mapping application.
After the Deadline is a language checker for the web that checks for Contextual Spelling, Advanced Style, and Intelligent Grammar. It is a free download for most browsers and platforms that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology to find writing errors and offer smart suggestions. It even explains the error and why it is incorrect
If your presentation is lacking visuals that pack a punch, try some of these infographic and visual websites to add a wow factor.
Train your brain by playing this game from the Brain Workshop that involves remembering a sequence of spoken letters and a sequence of positions of a square at the same time.
Flashcard Exchange is a free web-based application for the creation, study, and sharing of flashcards
Mobile Education Apps
If you are interested in using your smartphone or tablet to learn, check out the Technology Made Easy website for a list of apps.
LowBrowse Firefox Add-on creates a new frame in the top part of the browser that, on hover over, presents the text in a single line with configurable text size, font, color contrast and letter spacing without having to zoom in and out.
NoSquint Firefox Add-on lets you adjust the font size and color as well as customize the overall page look and feel.
Make Address Bar Font Size Bigger Firefox Add-on makes the URL Address Bar font size bigger.
Take a typing test to find out your typing speed, then set a target for yourself all at Good Typing where you can learn how to type correctly in just a few hours using all your fingers.
Try some simple typing lessons for standard keyboards on Power Typing
TypingWeb is a free online typing tutor & keyboarding tutorial for typists of all skill levels.
For ways to keep practising your typing, you can race against other learners online on Type Racer or try to keep up with songs on Typing Karaoke. Another fun game is like space invaders where you have to hit the correct keys to shoot falling words, called ZType. For a range of other typing games, try the Rapid Typing Zone.
Investing in your future