Having a disability or being chronically ill in college comes with many challenges: time management, memory, missing class, taking notes, studying, typing papers, reading textbooks and more! While this by no means will be an extensive list, here are some applications, software, and modifications that you might find helpful broken down by task. *Note: if you have an IEP/504/ College Disability Accommodations, some of these may be available to you for free through your school or may be covered under insurance so talk to your case managers!*
This is a simple application that allows for the use of multiple timers at once, including multistep timers, repeats, customizable icons, and a visual timer. There is a limited feature free version on iTunes.
VisTimer Lite (Free)
Another simple visual timer application that has customization options such as display size, circle color, alert sound, and time warnings. Available in iTunes Store here for free with ads, upgrade available. Compatible with iPhone and iPad.
Things 3 ($9.99 iPhone/Watch)
I have tried many to-do list-esque applications over the years and while most start off great I find I stop using them after a week or so because they are too complex, don’t sync well between devices, or don’t help. Things 3 is the exception. It has iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iMac/Macbook compability, iCloud, Reminders and calendar syncing, it clean and easy to use and helps me immensely with homework, projects, things I need to buy, and my “remind me to think of…”. It is available here.
Why I love it:
- items are easy to move, categorize and mark as complete
- a log book is kept for your completed items for the inevitable “oh shit I didn’t actually do that” moments
- it syncs well with devices
- it syncs with iOS Reminders, Calendar (including google), iCloud, and various devices flawlessly
- You can set due dates, reminders, and assign a time to complete it
- You can make subcategories
- It helps a lot with packing and grocery lists too
Microsoft OneNote (Free)
Microsoft OneNote is part of the Office365 suite and is like Word, Powerpoint, and a Notepad combined. It offers the users to create subject sections, draw freehand, add tags such as “question” “to-do” or “follow-up”, simultaneously record and take notes, highlight, change page color, and more! Additionally, if used on Windows, “Learning Tools” is a free package download that includes features such as text-to-speech, focus mode, font-spacing, page coloring options, reading tools for low vision, dyslexia and other print disabilities, and more! I find OneNote to be the most useful one touch screen devices, especially for working out things like math problems that are hard to type out correctly or quick sketches. OneNote is also integrated with Office Lens (below).
I have only just started using Notability by Ginger Labs instead of OneNote and while the two applications have large amounts of crossover in terms of functionality, I prefer Notability’s design as well as ease of integration of pictures, better functionality of audio recordings, more functional highlighter, and overall more functional to use and sync.
Wrise is an accessible word processor for Mac that includes word prediction, text-to-speech, tags, and an export to iTunes feature. It is made by Assistiveware and is switch compatible. It also has tools to help people who struggle with similar sounding words, spelling, and reading.
Dragon Dictation (Naturally Speaking- $69.99)
Dragon provides one of the best speech recognition/dictation softwares out there. For those with fine motor issues, hypermobility in fingers, or who just prefer to talk rather than type, this is an amazing software. Dragon works with most common word processors (Word, Notepad etc) and can also be integrated into social media and web browsing.
Quizlet is a free study tool that allows the user to make e-flashcards, practice tests, and learning games all from a study set. The free version allows for pictures to be used on flashcards as well but you are limited to a small database. Additionally, study sets can be shared with classmates, worked on collaboratively, or you can search for pre-made study sets by other users. Some of the really beneficial tools of quizlet are: web based with app options, several different modes for learning from traditional “flashcards” to an adaptive learning course that prepares you for your exam. As someone with a learning disability, the ability to have the cards/ questions read to me when I want to is a major plus.
Crash Course Videos (Free)
These videos are fantastic! While you are limited to the topics they cover, I find them informational and think they do a great job of summarizing and presenting information without being too complex. These are great reviews for science courses, history, and other introductory courses. Also just fun to watch to learn something new. They even have videos on study skills!
Khan Academy (Free)
For more specialized informational needs, especially in math and science, Khan Academy does a good job of summarizing, providing examples, and covers more discrete topics.
Office Lens (Free)
Office Lens is a free mobile application (integrated with OneNote) that gives you a scanner and optical character recognition (OCR) in one application — and for free. I use this app all the time!
Things it can do:
- take a picture of a whiteboard at an angle, auto-crop it, and perform OCR (scans and converts characters to type)
- take a photo
- take a picture of a business card, crop it and perform OCR
- save anything you snap to camera roll, OneNote, PDF, email attachment and more
- scan and read a document to you
- scan a document, perform OCR, send document to OneNote, then edit the document
- compatible with VoiceOver and switch access
Keeble Accessible Keyboard ($24.99)
Another product of Assistiveware, Keeble is for anyone with vision issues, limited use of hands, dyslexia, and switch users this app is an accessible keyboard that can be added just like a foreign language or emoji keyboard and allows for customization of color, font, word prediction, quick phrases, auditory feedback (speaks what you type), Open Dyslexic font, ALL CAPS, and arrangement (ex. switch user making keyboard in frequency order as opposed to QWERTY).
Hope some of this helps!
3 thoughts on “AT/Software for High School andCollege Students with Disabilities”
Hi Julie! 🙂 Thank you for writing about assistive technology. I feel like it’s a topic that doesn’t get talked about enough! Do you ever use text-to-speech software? If so, do you have a favorite one?
Hi! I’m actually an AT student so and yeah it really gets neglected- probably because it is a new field. But even if you don’t have disabilities, AT can be useful and it is great to know what kind of stuff brilliant people have designed! And yes, I use text to speech for reading almost anything, and to help catch errors in my writing, it truly is life changing software and I would not be able to survive college without it. I use Apple’s Speech mostly because it works well and I have all Apple products but I have also used Read and Write Gold before and I liked that better than Dragon. I did have to use Window’s Narrator at work and wanted to slam my head into a wall.
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Sorry, I should have been using text-to-speech software when I found your blog so I might have missed that. I have a lot of trouble with my vision. That’s really cool that you’re studying AT! Yeah, Windows is terrible. Thank you for recommending Apple Speech and Read and Write. I’ll definitely look into them. Right now I’ve just been relying on a free online one, but the ads get annoying and it doesn’t always load the completed transcription. It was nice to be able to prove to myself how much text-to-speech helps me before buying my own software though.