Assistive Technology Information
Assistive technology products, equipment, and systems enhance learning, working, and daily living for students with disabilities.
Assistive technology helps people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, pointing, seeing, hearing, learning, walking, and many other things.
Different disabilities require different assistive technologies. Below we have a quick guide to assistive technology to improve your functional capabilities at university.
Please Note: Click on the down arrow in the boxes below of more information on each topic.
Browser extensionsBrowser extensions add features to your web browser and are simple to download and install. These extensions are all free and provide useful tools to support your studies. Most are designed for the Chrome browser but where other browsers are supported, these are listed.
Recommended Browser Extensions - Reading
Reading – Helperbird
Helperbird has a range of tools to support reading in the browser, including the option to open webpages, online PDFs and Google Docs in Immersive Reader.
Many features require a premium subscription, but word spacing, font, magnification, paragraph width and reading (focus) mode are all available for free, as is Immersive Reader.
Once installed, settings can be accessed from the Helperbird icon (when pinned), and features can be launched by right-clicking on the screen.
Get Helperbird for Chrome, Edge, or Firefox, and see the tutorials page for help.
Reading - ClaroRead Chrome
ClaroRead Chrome is a simple toolbar which features text-to-speech with text highlighting, in a wide range of languages and voices. It is compatible with the free Scottish-accented voices from The Scottish Voice.
There is also a screen overlay, and predictive text for online word processors such as Google Docs. Access these by clicking on the settings cogwheel.
For more reading and writing support features, ClaroRead 9 is available to all students on AppsAnywhere (Study Skills category). Contact the Assistive Technology Adviser, Claire, for help accessing ClaroRead and learning to use it.
Reading - Reader View
Reader View strips out the ‘noise’ from webpages, allowing you to concentrate on the relevant content. There are simple tools to change the background colour, font size and spacing, and you can choose whether to show or hide any images on the page.
Reader View also has a read aloud function which is compatible with the free Scottish-accented voices from The Scottish Voice.
Recommended Browser Extensions - Focus
Marinera Pomodoro is a timer based on the Pomodoro technique, used to aid concentration. Focus periods are customisable in length, and you can set an optional background noise or countdown tick.
The extension reminds you to take timed breaks between your focus periods and when to resume work.
It also tracks your completed pomodoros so you can see your progress over time.
Get Marinera Pomodoro for Chrome.
Noisli provides a range of background noises which you can blend to help create a distraction-free working environment. The free plan allows up to 1.5 hrs of background noise streaming per day.
Forest plants a virtual tree and sets a customisable timer for a period of focus.
Add distracting websites to your own blocklist, and then keep your tree alive by avoiding them while the timer is running. Trees which are grown successfully are added to your virtual forest.
Recommended Browser Extensions - Visual
Visual Stress - nOverlay
nOverlay is a fully customisable coloured overlay extension which can be toggled on and off with a single click. nOverlay colours only the background of the page and so it does not affect any images or text on the page.
There are several built-in colour options to choose from or you can create your own from the Options menu. Refresh your browser tab to see new settings take effect.
Get nOverlay for Chrome
Recommended Browser Extensions - Organisation and Referencing
Organisation – Todoist
Organise, plan and create task lists with Todoist, and share these with others. Upgrading to Pro (monthly subscription) gives you reminders/more projects and collaborators/larger file uploads.
The ‘Add website as task’ feature allows you to add online articles and research pages as tasks to review later.
Get Todist for Chrome, Safari and FireFox and see the Getting Started guide. Todist also has desktop and mobile versions so you can access your lists on any device.
Referencing – My Bib
MyBib is an online service which automatically creates fully formatted bibliography and in-text citations from webpages, books, journals, PDFs, and many other sources in over 9,000 different citation styles. There is a search function to quickly find books and journals, and citations can also be generated for videos.
The browser extension allows you to create a citation for the webpage you are reading, and then copy and paste it directly into your document or save it to a cloud-based project for export later. Reference projects can be exported into Word, copied to the clipboard, printed, or imported into tools such as Mendeley or Zotero.
- Click the MyBib icon to generate citations for the webpage you are currently on.
- Click on the bibliography entry or the in-text citation to copy it or choose Save To Project.
- The reference style can be changed by clicking the Change Style link.
- Creating a project gives you the option to save several bibliography lists, and add references from a wide range of sources including books and videos.
Installing a Browser Extension (Chrome)
Installing a Browser Extension (Chrome)
On the extension installation page, click the blue Add To Chrome button. Installation should complete automatically. If an extension needs specific access to files/microphone/camera etc, you will be asked to grant permission during the installation process.
Manage Your Extensions
Click the jigsaw icon on the right-hand side of the Chrome toolbar to see a list of all your currently enabled extensions. Click Manage extensions to see all your installed extensions.
Click the pin icon to ‘pin’ an extension to the Chrome toolbar. This makes them easier to find. Pinned extensions will appear to the left of the extensions jigsaw icon and can be launched from there.
Note that unpinning an extension will not turn it off or uninstall it.
Disable or Uninstall an Extension
Click the grey jigsaw icon and then select Manage extensions. This will show you a list of all your installed extensions. You can choose to turn off an extension using its toggle switch or uninstall it from here.
Extensions do not work on pages within the Chrome Web Store, by design. You will need to navigate to another page to see them in action. You may need to refresh your browser tab.
If an extension still does not seem to be working, check that it is enabled (click on the grey jigsaw icon and then select Manage Extensions to see all your installed extensions).
ClaroReadClaroRead is a highly effective, multi-sensory software solution for supporting reading and writing, with visual tools that colour, highlight, and focus on difficult to read text. Words can be spoken back as they are typed, or selected text can be highlighted and spoken to ensure effective proofreading. There are spellchecking and dictionary tools and a predictive text tool.
In addition, there are extra features including a mind mapping application and a referencing tool. ClaroRead works across most applications and is particularly adapted to use in Word, Outlook and Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Where to Find It
ClaroRead Plus is available to all Edinburgh Napier students via AppsAnywhere. For instructions on installing the AppsAnywhere launcher on your own laptop, please see this guide. You can also download a free 15-day trial of the latest version from the ClaroRead website.
ClaroRead is a floating toolbar which can be dragged around the screen or docked at the top out of the way but still accessible.
In Word, read from the current cursor position by clicking the Play button. In other windows applications, select the text you wish to hear and then click Play.
Adjust voice readback settings via the Voice tab on the Settings menu. Select the voice, speed and volume and hit Test to try out the new settings. Scottish Voices are available for download at the Scottish Voices website using your Edinburgh Napier email account.
Use the Check button to spell check your document. The Check window will show you the meanings of the suggested corrections and you can hear these read aloud.
Open the ScreenRuler from the Extras menu on the ClaroRead toolbar.
- Ruler – a highlighted bar which moves with the mouse
- Underline – a line across the screen which moves with the mouse
- Overlay - a full-screen colourcast
You can customise colours and opacity to suit here.
How To Guides
ClaroRead has extensive built- in help documentation, accessible via the Help button on the toolbar. This is very useful for finding help on a specific feature.
More Help and Training for ClaroRead
A Guide to ClaroRead
ClaroRead supports reading and writing. ClaroRead is a simple, easy-to-use and flexible software program that helps you to read, write, study, sit exams, and increase your confidence.
You can read any on-screen text out loud and improve your writing in Microsoft Word. ClaroRead also let you read aloud scanned paper books and documents.
Immersive ReaderImmersive Reader is a free tool to support reading and writing for readers of all ages and abilities, with easy-to-use text settings to aid readability, a reading ruler and pop-up dictionary definitions. The Read Aloud feature aids comprehension as well as being a useful tool for proof-reading essays.
Where to Find It
Immersive Reader is part of Office 365 and can be found in Word, OneNote and the web version of Outlook, as well as Teams and the Office Lens app. The latest version of the Edge browser also has the Read Aloud feature available in the right-click menu.
Log in to Office with your Edinburgh Napier username and password. Office can either be used in the browser, or you can choose to download Office365 onto your own device.
Quick Start - Microsoft Word
In Word, find Immersive Reader on the View tab. Click to open the document in Immersive Reader mode.
Use the three menus on the right-hand side of the screen (Word online), or the toolbar buttons (desktop Word) to adjust the text to make reading easier.
Your settings are saved and re-applied automatically when you reopen Immersive Reader.
Apply a reading ruler highlight using the Line Focus settings. You can choose to highlight 1, 3 or 5 lines of text at a time.
As you scroll through your document (use the mouse or the keyboard arrow keys), the line focus highlighting will remain comfortably in the middle of your screen.
To translate the whole document, select a language from the Translate dropdown and click the Document toggle.
The translation and the original document will now appear on separate tabs, and Immersive Reader can read aloud in either language.
Hear Text Read Aloud
Use the Read Aloud toolbar button (desktop Word) or the green play button at the bottom of the screen (Word online) to hear the text spoken aloud, with highlighting. If you have a ruler setting applied, this will automatically move with the text as it is read aloud. Adjust the reading voice settings by clicking the gear icon.
Individual words can be read aloud by clicking on the Word and then on the popup listen option.
Close Immersive Reader
Click on the Close Immersive Reader button (desktop Word) or the back arrow (Word online) to return to the standard document view.
How To Guides
For more help with Immersive Reader, contact Claire Beechey, the Assistive Technology Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can book an online technology support appointment with Claire via MyFuture.
How to improve reading skills with Microsoft Learning Tools
The Microsoft Immersive Reader is a free tool, built into Word, OneNote, Outlook, Office Lens, Microsoft Teams and the Edge browser, that implement proven techniques to improve reading and writing.
Watch the short 90 second YouCan video on how you can improve reading skills with the Microsoft Learning Tools Immersive Reader.
MindViewMindView is a mind mapping organisational app which you can use to organise your ideas, and add text, pictures and weblinks as you study and research. You can export your map as a PDF or use it to quickly create a structured Word document or PowerPoint slide deck.
Where to Find It
MindView (Windows) is available to students via AppsAnywhere. For Mac users, please access AppsAnywhere via the Virtual Desktop. A 30-day free trial of both Windows and MacOS versions can be downloaded from here.
How To Guides
MatchWare have produced a series of video tutorials which demonstrate all the main features.
MindView Quick Start Video
This video is intended to teach you the basic fundamentals of MindView as well as an introduction to some of the more advanced features.
The MindView Quick Start Video will look at how to create a mind map, make text notes, attach files, customize your mind map and export it
Sonocent Audio Notetaker
Sonocent Audio Notetaker is an audio recording app which allows you to annotate your audio recording by adding text notes and coloured category highlighting, either live or when listening back to the recording.
You can add lecture slides, easily playback audio from any point and export your notes in a variety of formats.
Sonocent Audio Notetaker
Where to Find It
Sonocent Audio Notetaker requires a subscription licence. The cost of this may be funded by DSA, depending on your individual study needs. The Disability and Inclusion team can advise you on this.
A limited number of copies of Audio Notetaker are available for loan – please contact Claire (Assistive Technology Adviser) for more information. A free 30-day trial is also available for download here.
Getting Started - Create a Recording
Select Blank Recording from the Home tab to open a new recording tab. (on Windows, there are also options to record from microphone, speakers or both) There are three main sections to the Audio Notetaker window.
The toolbar along the top contains all the controls for Audio Notetaker. Each recording opens in a separate tab along the top of the toolbar. The Home tab is always available and will take you back to the Home screen where you can create a new recording or find help and tutorials. The main window has separate panes for images, text and audio and the sidebar has highlighting tools for each pane in the main window.
Click the microphone button to begin recording. See also the Sonocent guide to recording from online videos (Windows). A visual representation of the audio recording will appear in the audio window. Use the options in the sidebar to mark sections of audio as ‘important’ or ‘task’ etc. Click on the label or use the number keys on your keyboard.
Type notes into the Text panel as you listen. You can add to these when you review the recording. Text can be highlighted in the same way as audio, using the options in the sidebar.
Audio linking matches your text notes to the audio recorded while you were typing. Click on the chain link icon on the text pane header. Now when you click on text in the text pane, the corresponding audio will be highlighted in the audio pane.
Use the playback controls to listen back to the recording. Playback will resume from wherever the cursor is in the audio window.
With Pause Mode turned on, the playback will pause at breaks in the speech, and will not resume until you click Play. This gives you time to add notes while you are reviewing a recording without having to constantly pause or rewind.
Watch the Sonocent Sprint 5-minute guide, and get in-depth guides at the Skills Portal. Contact Claire Beechey, the Assistive Technology Adviser, for more help with Sonocent Audio Notetaker, or book an online technology support appointment via MyFuture.
How to use Sonocent Audio Notetaker to work with online videos
You can use the features of Sonocent Audio Notetaker to work with online presentations in the same way you would in a lecture, meeting, brainstorm session or interview.
To do so, simply select the record through microphone option from the Home Tab. This short video, will walk you through the full process.