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Information on how the Library supports accessibility and inclusivity.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive Technology, or digital tools, are applications and software, which allow you to increase the quality and consistency of your work. Digital tools are useful for everybody but can be essential for disabled and neurodivergent learners.

What types of assistive software are available?

Text to speech tools can help with processing material and improving comprehension, reducing the need to re-read content. These tools can also be useful as a way of proofreading your work, by listening back to it to spot errors. Examples of text-to-speech tools are:

  • Read&Write
  • Immersive Reader built into Microsoft
  • Speak screen built into iOS.

Adjust text display, such as background colour, font, line spacing and margins to make reading more comfortable. Some programmes include a reading ruler which you can use to focus on a few lines of text at a time, helping to focus your attention on what you are reading and reduce being overwhelmed by long texts. 

  • Read&Write
  • Immersive Reader built into Microsoft
  • Reader built into iOS

See our enhancing digital reading guide for more tools built into Library e-book and journal platforms, including bookmarking and notetaking tools. 

See our Windows and iOS guide for more information about how to use tools built into the operating system.

Dictation (or speech-to-text) software can be a useful writing tool for getting your thoughts down onto the page. It can be useful if you feel more confident expressing yourself verbally. Dictation software can also help reduce spelling errors. 

Mindmapping software can help you capture your thoughts and build, organise and structure them into a more detailed piece of written work.

Notetaking tools can help with barriers around multi-tasking in lectures and tutorials. If you find it difficult to simultaneously take notes and listen, process, summarise, actively participate and critically engage with lecture content without missing anything, you may find a recording and transcription tool useful. Caption.ed is also a useful tool for people who are D/deaf or have hearing loss, in that it can live caption a lecture for viewing on your own laptop or device. Examples of notetaking tools:

  • Caption.ed (pilot)
  • OneNote.

Screen magnifiers can magnify the entire contents or a portion of your screen. Magnifiers such as ZoomText include the ability to enlarge text, change fonts and adjust colour contrast between the text and the text background and read out parts of the screen. Examples of magnifiers:

  • ZoomText

Screen readers are applications or tools built-in to the computer or device that help blind people and those with limited vision to access and interact with digital content. Screen readers read aloud content on the screen and other useful information such as headings, buttons and links to help people navigate the content. When using most screen readers you need to learn some shortcut keys or touch gestures. Examples of screen readers:

  • JAWS
  • NVDA
  • Narrator in Windows
  • VoiceOver in iOS

Assistive software at City

Not sure which software to use? We have added the following categories to the software descriptions. 

Listen to your computer: text-to-speech and screen readers
Speak to your computer: speech-to-text, dictation and controlling the computer using your voice
Vision: magnify your screen, enhance mouse pointers and cursors, highlighting, screenreading
 Productivity, planning and organisation: literacy tools, mindmapping, digital voice recorders and audio editing.

ABBYY FineReader

Description: OCR (Optical character recognition) software for scanning and reformatting documents so they can be used with assistive software.

Location: Northampton Square ATC PC 04, AT Room 1, AT Room 2. Law Library ATR.


With Caption.ed, you can have instant captions, downloadable transcripts and effortless note-taking. The Caption.ed website has an overview and a video of the features. Caption.ed provides machine-generated captions and transcripts on the go. 

City’s Student Health and Wellbeing team is piloting a limited number of licences from September 2022. 

Need support setting up or using the app? Carescribe runs webinars for students on the first Wednesday of each month at 3pm. Sign-up for a Caption.ed webinar.


Description: Speech-to-text / dictation / voice recognition application to transcribe your spoken words into written text or control the computer using your voice. The software may be useful for student with RSI, permanent or temporarily reduced mobility, visual impairment, dyslexia and specific learning differences.

Guides: Videos, cheat sheets and user guides can be found on the  Dragon Support webpage.

Location: Northampton Square ATC. Business School Library AT computers (for transcribing only in open areas). Law Library ATR.

Category: Speak to your computer


Description: Screen reader. A screen reader is a software application which converts text to synthesised speech output, allowing users to listen to all applications and content on their computer. JAWS is a powerful screen reader for blind and visually impaired computer users.

Location: Northampton Square ATC, Northampton Square All Library Level 2 pcs. Business School Library 1002 all pcs. Law Library ATR, T131 Computer Lab All pcs.


Category: Vision  Listen to your computer


Description: Mind mapping is a visual form of note making. Mind mapping can help you:

  • Create an overview of a topic.
  • Explore or break down an idea, concept, or problem and identify relationships and connections.
  • Create revision plans with the use of colour and images to help recall information.
  • Plan, structure and organise assignments and other written work.
  • Manage projects and tasks and create Gantt charts.

Mind Genius contains some useful study skills and project management templates to help build your map.

Guides: Mind Genius resources include 'how to' guides, templates and training.

Location:  All City student computers. Available remotely through Apps Anywhere. Find out how to open and launch AppsAnywhere. To use MindGenius remotely from a Windows pc, you need to be connected to the University's Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Category: Productivity, planning and organisation.

Open Book

Description: For use with PEARL scanner which can be borrowed from the Library Help Desk at Northampton Square. Portable scanner and text-to-speech package.The PEARL and Open Book software brings blind and low vision users instant portable access to printed material with an array of human-sounding voices. The folding camera deploys in seconds to connect to your PC and snap a picture of your reading material.

Guides: PEARL and Open Book documentation.

Location: Northampton Square ATC PC 1, ATC Room 1.

Category: Vision  Listen to your computer


Description: A collection of tools to support your reading and writing. Hear documents read out loud, text prediction, screen masking and summary highlighters.

Guides: Videos, training and guides can be found on TextHelp's training pages. If you are using the desktop version on your own pc, you may need to install a browser extension for the software to work with web content.

Location: All City student computers.

Category:  Productivity, planning and organisation.  Listen to your computer.


Description: ZoomText Magnifier/Reader is a fully integrated magnification and reading program tailored for low-vision users. Magnifier/Reader enlarges and enhances everything on your computer screen, echoes your typing and essential program activity, and automatically reads documents, web pages, email.

Guides: ZoomText Training

Location: Northampton Square ATC, Northampton Square All Library Level 2 pcs. Business School Library 1002 all pcs. Law Library ATR, T131 Computer Lab All pcs.

Category: Vision  Listen to your computer