For children and adults who are unable or reluctant to use their voices, AbleNet offers a complete line of user-friendly Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools and systems that encourage social interaction, while fostering greater independence in virtually any environment.


One of the simplest ways of supporting students with difficulties in reading is to add narration to existing resources. Office software like Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint have built-in tools to enable tutors to add sound clips through the Insert menu. This is effective and simple but does create large file sizes. It also means the audio is embedded in the document so cannot be listened to independently as an MP3 file.
Free software enabling the easy creation of MP3s is available as below:


Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder. Audacity can record live audio (either through human voice or audio direct from a computer) or import audio from another source. Audio clips can then be edited including cutting, copying, adapting pitch, volume etc and then saved as MP3 files for the learners to download and use on their portable players.

Audacity is ideal for staff or students who want to create audio clips for instruction or for evidence assessment. It can also be downloaded as a portable application which can be loaded onto a USB memory stick, thus removing the need for the software to be pre-downloaded onto a computer. Please note - to export audio files to MP3 format it is necessary to download the LAME encoder; see the instructions on the website links.

Download Audacity
Download Portable Audacity
Video clip on Audacity from PodBlaze

Pediaphonexternal image moz-screenshot-20.jpgpedia_logo.gif

MP3 files, playlists and podcasts automatically generated from Wikipedia!

Let your computer read out the Wikipedia for you!
Learning during jogging and driving! E-learning and m-learning with MP3 players and mobile phones! A podcast and a winamp playlist will be generated too.

To generate a MP3 audio article, type in a search item: e.g:"podcast"

external image accessibar-scr.png


What is Accessibar?

Accessibar is a toolbar extension for Firefox which aims at providing various accessibility features for users who could benefit from them. These features primarily focus on the dynamic manipulation of the visual display of the web page in addition to the integration of a text to speech reader which can read out loud the browser's user interface as well as web page content.
external image accessibar.png
  • Web page fonts and background colors can be changed from a selecton of 70 colors on current session external image softpedia_clean_award_f.gif
  • Full Page Zoom interface now available (for Firefox nightly builds only).
  • Icons with configurable shortcut keys to increase and decrease Font size.
  • Line spacing can be increased or decreased to five different spacing settings incrementally.
  • All images (including Flash) displayed on a web page can be selected as being hiden or shown.
  • All changes made to web page display can be restored to original page settings by pressing “Restore Page“.
  • Changes made to the currently displayed web page persist until “Restore Page“ is selected.
  • Integrated Text To Speech reader. Reads out strings hovered over as well as focused elements.
  • Reader settings can be configured allowing the selection of the voice, volume, speaking rate, pitch, and voice range.
  • Toolbar functions have configurable Hotkeys (keyboard shortcuts).

ATTO[[image:file/view/animationnew.gif align="right" link=""]]

The Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO) provides information on AT applications that help students with disabilities learn in elementary classrooms.
  • Information on AT use for elementary students with disabilities
  • decision makingAT Solutions for 4 students
  • "How to" use specific hardware devices and software programs
  • Links to national AT organizations and projects


For some learners, reading speed and comfort are significantly enhanced by the nature of the font and the nature of the colour contrast between the font and the page background colours. Users have many options, both within the underlying operating systems (e.g. Windows) and within the actual software the user is using (e.g. Microsoft Word, Adobe Reader). Within the operating system the general appearance and colour of text and background can be set. In addition, the Windows operating system contains a built-in screen magnifier. Software like Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader allows users to change the colour of the background and the colour of the text. Text can also be soon to to whatever size is comfortable for reading. Using the appropriate view mode, it is also possible to get the text to reflow so that every line of text fits the page without left/right scrolling.
If the built-in accessibility options do not do the job required for a specific learner or are not enabled by the network manager, the following free software might help.

How to change your browser settings

Screen Tinter

In many institutions, the display properties have been locked down to prevent student abuse. Screen Tinter is a free utility which allows the screen foreground and background colours to be changed at the click of a button.
Download Screen Tinter
Screen Tinter Video Clip ( - 1 KB)

iZoom Magnifier

external image magnifier.PNG
iZoom has more functionality than most other freeware magnification programs including the inbuilt Windows magnifier. It can magnify from 1.5 to 16 times and there are several options for magnification style – eg lens, line and split screen horizontal or vertical. A range of colours contrasts are available including black and white and reverse contrast. It works best at a resolution of 800 x 600 or less and with 16-bit colour or less. The paid for version has more options and is also available as a portable application meaning it will run from the memory stick alone.

Accessible PDF

Accessible PDF is a free program from Claro Software that lets you customise the colours and fonts whilst reading a PDF and is able to read the text aloud with other programs such as ClaroRead. You can zoom in and out, use high- or low-contrast colours, and save your PDF as text or a web page for future use. You can also follow internal contents links to let you navigate the document.
Download Accessible PDF

Background colour - Acrobat Reader
We tend to think of PDFs being presented in a fixed format. But fortunately Adobe are well aware of accessibility issues. Not only do they provide a built in text-to-speech system but also they allow you to change background colours.
In order to change the background colour of a pdf in Acrobat Reader, gor to Edit > Preferences > Accessibility, and check "Replace document colours". Click "Page Background" to change to your preferred colour

Dyslexia Tools


Many people see dyslexia just as a reading and writing difficulty. But the problems that cause these difficulties also impact on many other life skills. Internet-based exercises can help to train specific skills of dyslexic persons. Such exercises are available, but the majority of them are focused on children and do not address the specific underlying problems of young adults. Young dyslexic adults do not like them due to their childish nature or because they seem irrelevant.
This project looks to provide a highly motivating and stimulating learning environment for a carefully selected range of skills known to be important for young dyslexic adults. It will address seven areas of particular importance for vocational skills development. The areas are targeted through direct and indirect stimulation.

The project partnership will develop a series of Internet-based training modules tailored for young dyslexic adults in the following 7 areas:
  1. Auditory discrimination
  2. Auditory memory
  3. Auditory sequence
  4. Visual discrimination
  5. Visual memory
  6. Visual sequence
  7. Spatial position (e.g. top, bottom, behind, ahead, left, right)


Big Calculator.

external image bigcalc.gif
A big thank you to Sensory Software for this download. The Big Calculator is a very useful utility for a learner who needs an additional bit of help to identify the numbers etc. Tip: Click and drag the Calculator to resize it to meet your needs. Download the Big Calculator

Talking Calculator

This is a great utility for learners who require audio visual support with numeracy. .Download the Talking Calculator

The Maths Dictionary for Kids

external image mathsdictnry.gif
The Maths Dictionary for Kids was written by Australian primary school teacher Jenny Eather.
It is an animated, interactive dictionary that uses simple language to explain over 400 mathematical terms.
There is an alphabetical index of terms and, in addition to simple definitions, there are examples and activities to test a student's knowledge.
Select this link to visit the Maths Dictionary for Kids


external image easymaths.gif
EasyMaths is a free online course designed to make the learner a maths expert with little effort. The contains GCSE material offering tutorials, exam bank a practice room, and Games and Puzzles.
The tutorials involve revision notes and coursework. In the Practice Room, each study area is split into categories for easy location. It also offers tips to pass exams and practice questions with solutions. The site attempts to make maths fun with jokes, games and tricks to encourage users to discuss maths in everyday life.
Visit the EasyMaths website

Funbrain - The Learning Factory

external image funbrain.gif
Although the site is primarily designed for a younger age group, it is suitable for older students who want to improve their knowledge of basic grammar, numeracy, culture and the Universe.
The environment is very bright and colourful, and is well organised with some great games, which really enhance the learning process and build up IT skills for students who have had little or no contact with computers.
Click here to visit the Funbrain Learning Factory

Pointer Accessible Maths Worksheet

An exercise in using Microsoft Word to provide pointer accessibility. This is a simple maths recording worksheet and should work in Word 97 onwards. To type a number, the student steers their pointing device to the relevant grey area and clicks inside it. A number can then be typed.
To find out more about Pointer Accessible Maths Worksheet, select this link
For more interactive and engaging numeracy worksheets visit the Learning Resources section


For some learners, especially those with the literacy difficulties or working in a second language, a key need is for instant access to the meaning of a word. Microsoft Word has an inbuilt thesaurus which allows the learner to right click over any word and get suggested synonyms.
external image WordWeb.jpg

Wordweb 5

WordWeb is a quick and powerful international English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows. It can be used to look up words from almost any program, showing definitions, synonyms and related words. It includes pronunciations and usage examples. This is not freeware but ‘Greenware’ – it is free to use provided you take less than one return flight a year. Otherwise you must upgrade to the paid for version. Uniquely, this software positively discriminates for students from poorer backgrounds. The basic greenware package consists of 150,000 root words, 120,000 synonym sets, definitions and synonyms, proper nouns, related words and pronunciations based on your inbuilt speech engine Windows XP and above). It can be set up for hotkey use and is an excellent inline dictionary/thesaurus.

Download WordWeb 5

Supporting Learners with Reading and Writing Difficulties

My Learning Toolkit

my learning tookit
my learning tookit

Assist-I.T. has developed the My Learning Toolbar to support struggling learners. The toolbar integrates with Word and provides a range of frequently used tools all in one toolbar, for example, frequent homophones (confusables), increasing text size and space, colour background and the 'research' tool for accessing synonyms and encyclopedias on line.To download the My Learning Toolkit right click the link as select 'Save Target As' to save to your desktop.
Download the My Learning Tookit toolbar


external image readplease.gif
ReadPlease is suitable for those who have a visual impairment and/or experience dyslexia. By simply copying and pasting information from a word document or Internet page, ReadPlease will read or echo back the copied text.As well as changing background colours, text can also be magnified to meet a range of needs.Download ReadPlease (11 MB)


ReadingBar is the latest addition to the ReadPlease collection. ReadingBar seamlessly integrates into your web browser and will read information on the screen. It reads any web page, makes mp3/wav files, zooms any page, text-only version web pages, translates and much more! This is a 30 day trial.Download ReadingBar (18 MB)

Phonetic Speller Werdz

Phonetic Speller 'Werdz is software developed by IBM that will correctly spell words such as "sossidge, lettis," and "menny utha werdz.
Werdz can be downloaded by selecting this link (4.5 MB)

BBC SkillWise

skillwise logo
skillwise logo

The BBC Skillwise site provides a wealth of resources to help learners improve literacy and numeracy skills and includes engaging and interactive games, factsheets, worksheets, quizzes and games to support struggling learners.
Click here to visit the BBC Skillwise Learning site


Learners with poor literacy skills or slow reading speeds can benefit from tools that allow the learner to get to the main points within a document. The effectiveness with which these tools work depends largely on how well structured the documents were in the first place and, in particular, whether or not the document is structure was formatted using the inbuilt headings styles. For a well structured document in Microsoft Word, the Document Map view providers a layered summary of all the key points in the document. The Outline view can also achieve the same. Finally, auto summarise (under the tools menu) will attempt to summarise the key points of the document in an intelligent way.

Video of structuring a document correctly
Video of document map view

Website Readability

applications that effectively removes the clutter from web pages that can be so distracting for readers.


does a remarkably effective job of removing the distracting clutter that can make it difficult for many readers to focus on the primary content on a web page. This application could not be any easier to install or use.
Set the type-style, text-size, and margin-width. Then drag and drop a bookmarklet onto the bookmark toolbar of your browser. Click on this book marklet when you want to remove clutter from a web page, and it’s gone. To change the settings, simply right-click on the bookmarklet to delete it. You can then go to the Readability site, select the settings you want, and add a new book marklet.

external image tidyrdad.jpg


is an application that strips distracting clutter from web pages so that readers can focus on the primary content. At the same time, TidyRead makes it easy to adjust the style, font size, and margins. These adjustments can be made right on the re-formatted web page. There is also a button that switches you back to the original page format.


Text to speech is a powerful tool that allows learners the option of listening to text rather than reading it. The quality of the audio output depends to a large extent on the voices available in your computer’s speech engine. Some text to speech software will simply read the text from the screen while others will allow you to convert the text to MP3 format which can then be used away from the computer.
Within the standard software loaded on most computers, Acrobat Reader has text to speech functionality built in for reading PDF documents aloud (see under the Acrobat Reader view menu). Other than Adobe Acrobat reader, text to speech support is limited which is why third-party software (such as those below) is so valuable.

external image cepstral-1.jpg


At Cepstral, the text to speech conversion converts the text into a .WAV file. Type in the text, hit Say It, and you will be asked to download s small WAV file. The ability to save the file is a great convenience here.


(portable text to speech and text to MP3 convertor)
DSpeech can import a wide range of text based files in different formats, read them aloud, highlight words as they are read and convert the output to MP3 format for maximum portability. One of the main advantages of Dspeech is that it runs from a memory stick without needing to be installed on the computer. This means the learner can carry the software they need and use it on any computer they want. The software is also highly configurable in terms of the voice used and the characteristics of the voice.
Download DSpeech
Dspeech Video Clip ( - 1 KB)


external image expressivo-1.jpgThis text to speech conversion tool from Expressivo has a maximum limit of 200 characters. So large chunks or text at one go are out. But it is easy enough to use. Type or copy-paste your text, choose one of the four voice options (You have female US-English, female Romanian, male Polish and female Polish accents as options), and hit Read Me.

  • Epressivo produces a short URL to the speech file you created which you can email, IM or blog
  • Option of entering text directly into the address bar of the browser


Convert any text to audio, embed into any webpage. Lifelike voices.

external image ivona-1.jpg

The Ivona Speech Synthesizer

text to speech conversion tool online has a charcter limit of 200, and the same voice options as Expressivo. Ivona, however, allows you to save the converted speech file as an MP3 for private, non-commercial use.

Japplis Speech

is freely available online text-to-speech application.
It has the particularity to read the text while you're typing it. It can also read line per line or the selected text or the whole text.

Microsoft Reader

Microsoft Reader can create e-books in Reader format direct from Word. This provides learners with the range of accessibility benefits that are integrated into Microsoft Reader.
A plug-in for Word, as well as the full Reader software is required to do this.

Microsoft Reader has a range of accessibility benefits including:
  • functions to enlarge or decrease the size of text
  • an in-built free dictionary which enables the user to lookup the definition of a word
  • options to add text annotations and drawings to a document
  • the ability to have the text portions of the resource spoken out
  • key areas of the text can be highlighted for future reference
  • and there are also a number of navigation options.
Microsoft Reader and the Word plug-in are both available from the Microsoft website below
Download Microsoft Reader
Video Clip of Microsoft Reader ( - 1 KB)

Natural Reader

The free version of natural reader as much of the same functionality as the paid-for versions but it will not export the text to an MP3 file. It will read Text files from a wide variety of documents eg MS Word files, MS Internet Explorer webpages, Adobe PDF files and Emails. Text font style, size and background color can be changed. A MiniBoard view offers another option to listen to text without disturbing reading on the screen – and also gives the benefit of being very discreet. It is possible to adjust reading speed, voice (male/female), quality and volume, etc.
Download NaturalReader
Video clip on NaturalReader will be available soon!
Previous section - Visualisation tools
Next section - Recording tools
Back to main page - Assistive Technologies - Untapped Potentials

nokia text to speech

Oddcast screenshot screenshot is an online text-to-speech application that can take text from direct input as well as Word files, PDF files, webpages, etc. in English, French or Spanish and transforms them into speech which can then be very easily read aloud in the browser, saved as MP3, saved to MP3 device or can be embedded into a blog or website. All you need to do is register to access 15 voices which you can preview and choose to use when converting your document, you can also adjust the speed at which the text is read. Whilst is no longer free for the full functionality, there are currently 3 levels of subscription available:
Bronze membership is free, this gives you the option of creating short 30 second clips of material, up to 3 of which can be saved or embedded.
Silver membership costs $14.99 per year (at time of reporting) and allows unlimited recording creations, up to 80 minutes of recording output, and up to 25 saved recordings.
Gold membership costs $24.99 per year (at time of reporting) and allows the same as the silver membership but allows for up to 100 saved recordings.
This is a very useful tool that has many output options, decent configuration in terms of the voices available and requires no software downloading to use it.

Speaks for Itself

Spokentext is a free text to speech converter, it allows you to record (English, French, Spanish or German) PDF, Word, plain text, PowerPoint files, RSS feeds, emails and web pages, and converts them to speech automatically. Using it you can easily create audio recordings (in English, French, Spanish and German) of any text content. You can use our site or Firefox Extension to record books, articles,web pages, your papers class notes or any other text content you want to have available to you in audio format. So that you can listen while you commute or exercise

SpokenText is packed with features - but it wants you to register, a small hassle. The registration is a bit too comprehensive - but I think it's worth filling it out. Once you click on the link in the activation email, your registration is ready to go.
external image spoken-text.jpg
Log in, and click on the button 'Create a New recording'. Choose from one of the 5 voice options, choose a words-per-minute speed for spoken text and - there is no text box! You have to upload a PDF, .txt, .DOC or .PPT file.
Conversion from multiple file formats.
Conversion status indicator
Email notification on conversion
Filter words
Your own Spokentext web address to share your recordings


is not so straightforward - but that's only if you land up on the site looking for a text to speech synthesizer. Talkr is not for that exactly - have an RSS feed you want read out?
external image talkr-1.jpgYes, this one is for instant podcasts - it converts RSS feeds into MP3 files for podcast! Once you sign up, all you need to do is to point it towards a feed of your own or someone else's and it converts it into an MP3 file.
Player to embed the mp3 file into your blog
MP3 voice mails
Listen to text only blogs anytime!

Text to Speech Translator

Converts text into lifelike spoken audio in a variety of languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.


Use a speaking avatar to speak your tex

Voz Me

external image vozme-1.jpg
vozMe an online text to speech tool with an ultra-simple interface; a baby could use it! You have a large text box where you type or copy-paste whatever you want to convert to speech, and click the 'Create MP3' button. That's it. A new window would open, and in a few seconds, your MP3 file would start playing. Large chunks of text were translated - the text field seems to accept a pile of text easily.

Save as MP3 file.
Integrate into websites or blogs (WP plugin available)
Add as iGoogle gadget

WordTalk logo
WordTalk logo

WordTalk is a free plug-in developed for use with all versions of Microsoft Word (from Word 97 upwards), which can help people with reading difficulties use Microsoft Word more effectively. It will speak the text of the document and will highlight it as it goes. It contains a talking dictionary to help decide which word spelling is most appropriate. It sits neatly in your toolbar and is highly configurable, allowing you to adjust the highlight colours, the voice and the speed of the speech. WordTalk does not export the file as a stand-alone MP3.

If you can type, you can make movies. Text-to-MovieTM
watch, create, remix and share movies
Acrobat Reader, a free text reader for the Mac or PC.
Microsoft Reader, a free text reader for the PC.
ReadPlease 2003 (Win only).
Tex-Edit Plus 4.5.1, a free text reader now shipping with Mac OSX 10.3.2.

The following programs convert text into synthetic speech (audio) and save it in MP3 format:
ReadPlease Reading Bar.
Read the words began as a simple concept in January 2008: To assist students with learning disabilities with their studies, by means of auditory learning and auditory processing.

Zoom in any browser





Keyboard Tools

to Support Learners with Physical Difficulties

Click N Type

external image thumb-ani.gif
Click N Type is a brilliant free utility for those who need to use an on-screen keyboard. As well as having word prediction, it is possible to resize and change the keyboard layout.
Features include: multiple keyboard layouts, word prediction, upper and lower case, scanning and switch accessible.
Download Click N Type (400 KB)
For more information visit the Click N Type website

Talking Typer

If you have a visual impairment and want to learn to type, Talking Typer will take you through the learning process at your own pace. With speech feedback, an easy to use interface you will soon be learning to navigate your way round a keyboard.
Download Talking Typer (22 MB)

Mouse Utilities


MouseTool is an extremely useful utility for individuals how have difficulty clicking a mouse. Simply roll the mouse arrow over the icon or menu you want to open and MouseTool will perform a single click, double click and, if required, a drag lock.
Download MouseTool (400 KB)


MouseCageTM is software designed to help people with hand tremor control their computer mouse. It is simple to use, installs in seconds, and works with the mouse you already have. In many ways it is quite similar to 'SteadyMouse' with the exception that the free trial download is only for a limited period.
Download MouseCage


SteadyMouse is free software designed to assist people with the hand tremors that commonly go along with Parkinson's disease, Multiple sclerosis, etc.
SteadyMouse features:
  • Anti-tremor mouse filtering
  • Removal of accidental mouse clicks
  • Assistive "Icon Targeting" system
  • Quick enable/disable using the scroll lock key
  • Simple design for easy configuration
To download SteadyMouse select this link

Improve your mouse skills

Click here to visit the 'Reactive Colours Gallery

If you know someone who has difficulties using a mouse, then this selection of visual mouse exercises will help to stimulate and engage a range of users. An interestng feature of this site is the 'cause and effect' mouse activities.

Supporting Learners with Visual Difficulties

BigShot Screen Magnifier
BigShot magnifier
BigShot magnifier

BigShot is a low-cost, easy-to-use magnification program allows you to fine tune the screen for more comfortable viewing. BigShot features 20 levels of magnification from 100 to 200 percent and allows you to focus on your work without straining to see the screen.
BigShot is an ideal solution for learning and works great on laptops and desktops.
You can find out more about BigShot by selecting this link
You can also download BigShot to fully evaluate the product on your system before making a purchase decision. Trial software is available free of charge and may be downloaded from the following link.
Click here to download the trial version of BigShot

iZOOM: Full Screen Magnification...FREE DOWNLOAD!
large icons
large icons

iZoom, the first free full-screen magnifier/reader is now available from Issist and contains the following features: Intuitive interface makes it simple to use, 1.5X to 16X magnification on supported sites, and up to 3X on unsupported sites, 6 Zooming modes, including Full Screen and Magnifying Lens, adjustable zoom lens size, high grade image smoothing, user configurable color settings, cursor enhancements and option to launch the program automatically at startup.
This is a great utility particularly when it is free! It also has speech output support which makes it a great all rounder!
Click here to download iZoom's Full Screen Magnification for FREE!

Virtual Magnifying Glass
virtual magnifier
virtual magnifier

The Virtual Magnifying Glass is a magnifying glass lens that follows the mouse movement.
You can move the lens around the screen to view magnification of any screen area. To close the lens, click the left mouse button. Virtual Magnifying Glass also adds it's own taskbar icon. Left-click on the icon offers a shortcut for launching the lens again.
To download the Virtual Magnifying Glass click here
To get further information and help to set up the Virtual Magnifying Glass, select this link

Thanks to the R J Cooper site for this. If you have a difficulty, seeing the mouse cursor on the screen Biggy offers a range of large mouse pointers. A great all-round utility that works within any software!

Large Cursors and Pointers
Large cursors
Large cursors

Designed at the Ace Centre the Large Cursors and Pointers download provides 80 additional pointers and cursors for those with visual or perceptual difficulties. Icon styles include animated, coloured, large, I-beams and circles.
To download Large Cursors and Pointers and to get installation instructions select this link

Where you can find Jim Kitchen's free blind accessible speech friendly pc dos and windows games

visual aids for learning
Visual Aids for learning is a company that develops free downloads of visual aids to streamline and support learning. The aim of Visual Aids for Learning is to improve the independence and self esteem of all people with learning difficulties. The resources have been developed in consultation with teachers trained in early childhood, primary school, high school and speech therapy.

Switch Access

switch driver
switch driver

A stand-alone serial switch driver for Windows, programmed to send the standard keys of Space and Return.
For single or two switch access. Option to send a continuous stream of keypresses or a single keypress.
Send a selection of other commonly used keypresses such as function keys and number keys.
Click here to download the switch driver

Priory Woods School
Priory woods school
Priory woods school
Priory Woods is an all age community special school situated in east Middlesbrough.
As well as providing a quality, inclusive education for pupils with severe learning
difficulties and those with profound and multiple needs, they have a magnificent website.
The Priory Woods resources section contains over 150 programs for switch, touch-screen and pointing device users - all are free to download and include switch activities, cause and effect/targeting activities, interactive storybooks and much, much more!
Select this link to access the resources section
Switch Games
Download free switch games:
Battle of the Gods
Reign of the Flowerpots

SEN Teacher Resources
Resources, freeware downloads, links and documents for those involved in the education of pupils with learning difficulties, autism and other special educational needs. Some of the materials may also be of use to teachers and parents of primary aged children.
Click here to visit the SEN Teacher website

Testing Web Accessability