Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities


What is Assistive Technology?

    In a broad sense, Assistive Technology:

    • Is any device, software, or hardware that helps people with disabilities work around challenges so they can learn, communicate and simply function better
    • Can help students work around their weaknesses, while also playing to their strengths
    • Ensures equal access

    How to receive Assistive Technology at Penn

    • Assistive Technology is provided as an accommodation.
    • Students should make an appointment with the Associate Director for Assistive Technology to receive training and check out equipment.
    • Students can also apply for funding to purchase Assistive Technology through SDS scholarships.

    Assistive Technology Software

    Screen Readers allow people with visual impairments to navigate computers by reading the contents of their screen.

    Screen Magnifiers allow people with low vision to navigate computers by enlarging the contents of their screen.

    • ZoomText (for Windows)
      • available for exams through SDS
      • Windows Magnifier
      • Mac Zoom

    Text-to-Speech assists people with learning disabilities and other print disabilities by reading text aloud to them and usually has a visual guided reading feature.

    • Read&Write (for Mac and Windows)
      • available to take home through SDS
      • available for exams through SDS
    • Kurzweil (for Mac and Windows)
      • available for exams through SDS
    • Mac Text-to-Speech (pre-installed on MacOS and iOS)
    • NaturalReader (free for Mac and Windows)
    • Balabolka (free for Windows)

        Speech-to-Text dictation software allows people to interface their computers though voice and speak to type.

        • Dragon (for Mac and Windows)
          • available for exams through SDS
        • Mac Dictation (pre-installed on MacOS and iOS)
        • Windows Speech Recognition (pre-installed on Windows)
        • Google Docs’ Voice Typing

          Assistive Technology Hardware

          Electronic Magnifiers (CCTVs) magnify paper, books, and even far away objects.

          • available for exams through SDS

          Smartpens are notetaking devices that record audio as you write.

          Refreshable Braille Displays display text from a computer or tablet by raising dots through holes in a flat surface that create braille characters.

          Assistive Listening Systems are amplifiers that bring sound directly into the ear.

          • available in the classroom through SDS