The Assistive Technology Lab (AT Lab) located within the Department of AccessAbility Services in the Basement of Wilder Hall, offers a variety of assistive technology hardware and software tools designed to meet the needs of students with various disabilities. These programs can provide tools and strategies to assist students whose disability may present challenges with reading, writing, memory, or organization. If you would like to access the AT Lab or learn more about how these tools might be helpful to your individual learning needs, please email our Technology Access Coordinator to schedule an appointment at 413-538-2524.
Below is a description of the programs we currently offer.
Comprehensive reading, writing and study skills software program that supports students with learning difficulties including dyslexia, attention deficit disorders or English Language Learners (ELL). The primary feature of this program is its ability to convert printed text to digital text which then can be read aloud as audio as the text is being highlighted on the screen. For many students, this simultaneous ability to both see and hear the reading improves tracking, focus, and comprehension. The student can easily control the reading speed, text size, and highlighted content. Study skill tools include multiple color highlighting, bookmarks, column notes, sticky notes, spelling support and an integrated dictionary. Writing support includes a talking word processor that echoes back your writing, word prediction, and spelling and grammar check.
TextHelp Read&Write Gold for PC
Customizable floating toolbar of resources that integrates with applications such as Word, Pages, Internet Explorer, Safari, Adobe Acrobat/Reader and more. The software provides reading, writing research and studying supports including the following features:
- Reading: text-to-speech with dual highlighting, Screenshot Reader to quickly convert images of text onscreen, PDF Aloud which works with Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader
- Reading Supports: dictionary, picture dictionary, translator and SpeechMaker which will create an MP3 audio file for later listening
- Writing: Spell checker, word prediction, verb checker, and "sounds like and confusable words checker
- Study Skills and Research: Fact Mapper allows you to visually organize your ideas; and color highlighters allow you to highlight content that can later be extracted to create a study guides or outlines
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Voice recognition program that enables the user to dictate documents, emails, or spreadsheets by voice instead of typing. This program requires some initial training to create an individual voice profile and learn the basics of dictation for improved accuracy. Voice recognition can be an ideal solution for users who have difficulty with manual dexterity, slow typing skills, have dyslexia or other challenges that effect spelling, or just prefer to speak rather than type.
Graphical organizer tool that supports visual thinking and learning. The program allows the user to design concept maps with shapes, colors, and text. The user can easily switch the view from a visual map to an outline with the click of a mouse. Inspiration can be very helpful for users who think and organize with images rather than words.&
Screen magnification software program designed for users with visual impairments. This program can enlarge the screen image up to 36 times the actual size. The Zoomtext software also has built-in text to speech features which will read the content aloud in addition to the magnification. This program is ideal for users with visual impairments who still prefer to access the content visually vs. audibly.
Screen reading program which provides full access to all computer screen content including menus, dialog boxes, text content, etc. JAWS is fully controllable via the keyboard. JAWS provides all content with speech output that can be customized by the user. JAWS is compatible with refreshable braille displays.
Duxbury Braille Translation Software
Converts multiple file formats to braille code that can be "embossed" (printed) to create hard copy braille, or saved as "Braille Ready Files" (BRF) which can be easily read on a refreshable braille display. Duxbury can create Grade 1 or Grade 2 (contracted braille) code.
Suite of software programs that allow blind musicians to read, write and translate music to braille.
- GOODFEEL can quickly transcribe to braille from commercial music creation software such as Finale or Sibelius.
- Lime notation editor (and Lime Aloud for JAWS), allows blind musicians to read and write musical scores. Lime files can then be converted to braille with the GOODFEEL software to create printed/embossed braille music.
Tiger Max Embosser
Hardware device much like a printer. The embosser creates printed braille that has been created with braille translation software such as Duxbury.
Topaz XL 20" CCTV
Desktop video magnifier currently located in the Reading Room of the campus Williston Library. This device allows for magnification of printed materials which is most beneficial to persons with low vision.
Mac Supported Technology
We also own the following assistive technology software for Mac that is available for demonstration or located elsewhere on campus.
MacSpeech Dictate and Dragon Dictate 2.0
Voice recognition programs for the Mac. They function similar to Dragon Naturally Speaking on the Windows platform. If students want to explore voice recognition for their personal Mac laptop, then they can see Maureen Bourbeau, the Technology Access Coordinator, for an appointment to test out this software before they decide to purchase it.
Text-to-speech software program for the Mac OS X platform. It allows the user to select text from a PDF, document, or website, and have the software read it aloud. GhostReader can convert Word or PDF documents to iTunes (MP3) tracks which can be uploaded to an iPod device.
Currently, GhostReader is installed on the Mac computers in the (LRC) Language Resource Center.
TextHelp Read&Write Gold for Mac
Offers the same tools as Read&Write Gold for PC. The Mac version is installed on the Mac computers in the (LRC) Language Resource Center.