Center on Disability Faculty Corner
General overview of assistive technology at CCP (LINK: Overview of Assistive Technology in COD rev 6-08.doc)
- PIAT (lending library of assistive technology)
Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology allows any Pennsylvania resident to borrow assistive technology devices free of charge from their lending library. This service allows individuals to try assistive technology devices to determine what might be the most appropriate technology to pursue getting.
- Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D)
Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic is an non-profit, volunteer organization which has been the leading producer of accessible audiobooks for students with disabilities such as visual impairment or dyslexia that make reading standard print difficult or impossible. RFB&D has titles available in every subject area and grade level, including many of the textbooks used at Community College of Philadelphia. Anyone with a visual or print disability can become a member (there is an initial fee to join, a modest annual membership fee, and the cost of purchasing the playback software or device). While students are encouraged to have their own individual membership, the Center on Disability has an institutional membership allowing students to borrow audiobooks if it is one of their accommodations.
- ReadPlease (available free to download here)
This program is available for anyone to download for free. You can cut and paste anything into the clipboard and hear it read back. This software is ideal for students who may benefit from hearing what their paper sounds like before submitting it.
- Inspiration (available for a free 30 day trial here)
This software is inexpensive ($69) and allows students who are more visual learners the opportunity to develop outlines in a more visual way. There are many built-in templates which students can use to plug in their ideas or they can create their own outlines. Anyone can try the software for free for 30 days.
- Kurzweil (can request a free trial here)
Kurzweil 3000 is a program which allows students to scan any text material into the computer and have the material read back to them. The software is ideal for students with print disabilities or visual impairments. While the software is expensive (starting at around $1095), there are several computers on campus and at the regional centers with Kurzweil on them for students to use.
- WordQ with SpeakQ (available for a free trial here)
WordQ with SpeakQ is a program which allows students to have access to word prediction. The program also can read back what is typed. For students with spelling difficulties, this software even allows to use of voice to text if a student struggles to spell a word. The program (moderately priced at around $360) is designed for students with learning disabilities.
- Dragon Naturally Speaking
Dragon Naturally Speaking is a voice-to-text software program which allows students to train their voice into the computer and convert their voice to text. The software is ideal for students with physical disabilities who cannot use a standard keyboard to type. The software (starting at $99) requires some training and learning of specialized voice commands. While many students with physical disabilities find the program to be helpful, it is not a solution for everyone-- some students struggle to dictate their papers.
- Click-N-Type (available for free to download here)
Click-N-Type is a free program that provides access to on-screen keyboards with word prediction. Students with physical disabilities, such as the limited use of one or both hands, can choose from a variety of on-screen keyboard configurations and type by using their mouse. If a student cannot use the button click feature on the mouse, the program allows students to dwell over the keys without clicking to make their selection. There is another free program called Point-N-Click which allows students to perform clicking and double clicking functions without having to use the button click. Both programs are available for downloading.
- ZoomText (available for a free trial here)
ZoomText Xtra is a screen reader and screen magnification system designed for students with visual impairments. The software (starting at $395 for the magnifier; $595 for the screen reader and magnifier) allows students to enlarge their screen size from 1.2 to 16 times the normal screen size. It also allows students to adjust the color contrast, cursor, and pointer. The screen reader allows students to hear what appears on the screen.
- JAWS (available for a free trial here)
JAWS is designed for students with visual impairments. Whereas ZoomText offers enlargement assistance for students with low vision, JAWS (starting at $895) is an extremely powerful screen reader primarily used by students who are blind. To utilize JAWS, students must have extensive training because navigation involves understanding how to get around on a computer using combinations of keystrokes rather than the mouse.