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Disability Resource Centre

DRC
 

DRC Assistive Technology Service

The DRC Assistive Technology (AT) service provides a wide range of AT advice, training and support enabling students and University staff with specific requirements to make effective use of Information Technology.

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)

If you are a UK resident, funding for Assistive Technology can be applied for through Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). This is a non-refundable, non-means tested award that can provide you with a range of software and equipment that could benefit you during your course.

If you have UK residency, can apply for DSAs from the UK government..

If you are an international student, you can apply for equivalent funding to DSAs via the International Disabled Students Fund (IDSF).

If you are not clear of the process, then please e-mail disability@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Software Solutions 

Text to Speech

Speech recognition systems allow you to talk and the words appear on the screen without using the keyboard. The technology is very helpful for those with dyslexia or upper mobility issues. There are a huge number of speech input systems now available from simple solutions that are built into the operating systems and applications to the more sophisticated platforms such as Dragon Professional Individual that allow you to customise the words that it can recognise.

More details about Dragon Professional Individual can be found at the Nuance web site.

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping packages can be useful for generating and organising ideas in a visual way to help with content creation and to use as a memory aid. There is a plethora of mind-mapping software available.  One package that is widely used due to its ease of use and integration with Microsoft Office is MindView. The software allows you to convert your mind map into a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation with the click of a mouse.

The University has a site license for MindView 6 and the software is free to students and staff on Microsoft Windows.

More details about MindView can be found at the Matchware website.

You may also like to consider Miro. The platform provides an online whiteboard that allows you to create mind maps.

Literacy Aids

TextHelp ReadWrite is a literacy support tool that offers helps with everyday tasks such as reading text out loud, understanding unfamiliar words and proof-reading written work.

Screen Readers

Screen Readers allow students with visual impairments to access and interact with computers and applications. The two most common packages are JAWS and the free and open-source system called NDVA.

SensusAccess

The University provides SensusAccess, a web facility that allows students to independently convert documents into different formats. It can also be used to convert inaccessible documents such as image-only PDFs and JPEG files into accessible formats. Please note that you will need to use your @cam addresses to use SensusAccess.

Training Courses

The DRC also runs a monthly online course on How to Produce Accessible Documents. The aim of the course is to teach you how to create accessible Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents to help stop the flow of inaccessible documents in the University.

You can book on the course at the University booking system.

Loan Pool

The DRC holds a loan pool of equipment, such as ergonomic mice and recording devices for students to borrow and try out.  If you have questions about the loan pool or suggestions of items to add to the loan pool then please e-mail disability@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Built-in Assistive Technology

Both Windows and MacOS have many AT features now built into their platforms and can be useful for trying out the technology, to use while you wait for your funding or to use as an alternative to the 3rd party software.  

Speech-to-Text

Microsoft Windows has two speech-to-text systems that you can use. You can start the basic speech system, called Voice Typing by pressing the Windows Key and H together. Voice Typing does have a limited set of dictation commands such has “Delete That”. You can find a full set of commands at the Microsoft website. Please note that Voice Typing requires an internet connection. 

The other built-in system has more functionality and allows you to control your PC by voice alone, without needing a keyboard or mouse. This system is called Speech Recognition and instructions on how to set up Speech Recognition for the first time can be found on the Microsoft website.

MacOS also has two speech-to-text systems available, the first is called Keyboard Dictation and allows you to dictate simple pieces of text. The other is called Voice Control . Voice Control has more functions and allows you to control both apps and your mac by using your voice.

Text-to-Speech

There are several ways to have text read back to you on Microsoft Windows. One method is to use the Immersive Reader and its feature called Read Aloud. The Immersive Reader is a free tool that is built into Word, OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Teams and many more Microsoft applications. A full list of supported programs can be found on the Microsoft site.

The Read Aloud utility is also available in Microsoft Edge and can be useful for reading PDFs and having web pages read out to you.  Here is some information about using Read Aloud in Edge. 

macOS has a very nice and simple way to read any text that is displayed on the screen. It can read Word documents, PDFs and web pages.  To use the feature, you highlight the text you want read out and press a hotkey. Here are the instructions on how to set up text-to-speech on a Mac.



Detailed information about accessing the Disability Resource Centre, the Student Services Centre and other University buildings can be found in the AccessAble Guide.