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Assistive Technology Software

Sonocent

Sonocent, a note-taking tool that puts the student in control of their own notes, captures audio and visualizes phrases into chunks, which can be color highlighted, annotated, and organized. 

Sonocent is available for desktop (Windows and Mac) and mobile applications (iOS and Android), enabling students to take notes on their preferred device.

The built-in features allow you to:

  • Capture audio, text, and slides in a single workspace.
  • Organize notes.
  • Export to various formats to suit their learning style.
  • Improve audio quality and extract what's most useful for you.
  • Embed PowerPoint slides, PDFs, images, and other media to support audio recordings.


Glean

Glean is the web version of Sonocent and is a great option for Mac and/or PC users.


Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil 3000-firefly, literacy software. Technology-based tools and resources within the software help you to actively engage in authentic learning experiences in the way that work best for you. 

If you're interested in utilizing Kurzweil 3000, please reach out to your assigned Access Consultant for approval.

If your assigned Access Consultant approved you for the use of Kurzweil 3000, please fill out the Kurzweil 3000 Request Form.

  • Read-the-web browser extension

    Please note: This extension is compatible with Canvas.

    For Google Chrome users

    1. Open a web page in Google Chrome
    2. Click on the Apps Icon
    3. Click on Web Store
    4. Search for Kurzweil
    5. Add “Read the Web” to your browser
    6. (K3000 is the Chromebook app)

    For Firefox users

    Load this extension using this link instead of through Mozilla.

    How to use the extension

    1. The extensions function identically
    2. A Kurzweil icon is stored to the right of the address bar.
    3. Activate the extension by clicking on the icon.
    4. Use your Kurzweil login to access the extension.
    5. For use with Standalone, Click the icon, the tool will open without login.
  • Kurzweil Task Bar Text Reader/Image Reader (Standalone PC Licenses Only)
    1. To activate, right-click on the desktop taskbar.
    2. Select “Toolbars”
    3. Click on “Kurzweil Taskbar”. (A check on the left will indicate it’s active.)

    How to use

    1. Text Reader – highlight and drag text.
    2. Image Reader – Click on the image and draw a box around the text you want. This works on both text and images. To use Read, Dictionary & Spell Check, put the cursor in the desired spot and click the icon.

JAWS

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a computer screen-reading program that allows individuals who are blind or who have visual impairments to read text on a computer monitor using a combination of Microsoft keyboard commands and JAWS keyboard commands.

Free home license

All students registered with the Disability Resource Center at FIU with an active FIU email address have access to the JAWS Home License. Click here to get started with JAWs. Please be aware that you must use your FIU email address. 



MAGic

MAGic is a computer magnification program designed to help individuals with visual impairments access the computer monitor. The software is used to magnify the computer screen and includes a speech output option. 

Free home license

All students registered with the Disability Resource Center at FIU with an active FIU email address have access to the ZoomText Home License. Click here to get started with MAGic. Please be aware that you must use your FIU email address. 



Dragon Naturally Speaking

Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software that uses your voice. 

Dragon is available for use only on DRC computers. If you are interested in using this software, please contact your Access Consultant for more information.



Livescribe Echo Smart Pen

LiveScribe Smartpens record audio and written notes from lectures. The two are synced for convenient playback. Notes from the Smartpen can be stored and played back using a number of applications, including Evernote and Google Docs.


Zoom

Zoom offers several accessibility features built into the platform such as screen reader support, automatic transcripts (must be set up by the faculty before the meeting), and keyboard shortcuts among others.

  • Accessibility Best Practices

    The list below is a collection of information and tips on how to make Zoom meetings as accessible as possible for all participants, including participants with disabilities. Most functions in Zoom are user-friendly and are accessible to people who use assistive technology. There are, however, a few exceptions and best practices to be aware of.

    Sound Quality

    Sound quality is important for all users and critical for people who are hard of hearing.

    • Reduce background noise: When speaking, ensure you are in a noise-free environment and stay close to the microphone.
    • Mute participants who are not speaking: Especially in large meetings, all participants should be muted except for the person who is speaking. If participants are not consistently muting themselves, the host can mute individual participants in the Manage Participants panel. The host can also use the Mute All tool or the Mute Participants on Entry option to apply muting to multiple participants at once. The “Mute participants on entry” option can also be selected when scheduling the meeting. Let participants know that they have been muted upon entry and state expectations for how and when they should unmute themselves and participate.

    Video

    Some attendees may not want to turn on their video in a meeting for a variety of reasons. These reasons can include medical privacy concerns, concerns about the ways in which the use of video may reveal or highlight disabilities, the anxiety or distraction that video can cause, and more. If you are encouraging participants to turn on their video, it is important to keep in mind that some participants may have good reasons for not wanting to do so. This is true in the classroom setting as well as in business meetings.

    Chat

    In-meeting chat can be very useful during meetings, including as a participation channel for people who are working in noisy environments. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

    Share chat content through additional channels. Some participants may be unable to access or fully utilize chat. Participants who are calling into a meeting will not be able to see or contribute to chat. Assistive technology users can access, read, and contribute to chat, but may be unable to activate links in the chat window. Finally, all users run the risk of losing important links or content from the chat if this information is not saved in some way.

    Recommendations:

    • If chat comments are being incorporated into a meeting, read the comments aloud as part of the meeting.
    • Send links from the chat to all participants by email before or after the meeting.
    • Optionally, you can save the entire chat.

    Screen Sharing

    Sharing your screen is a good way to display PowerPoints or other media, pull up an editable whiteboard, or walk participants through a process step-by-step.

    • Verbalize what is on the screen. Participants who are calling in or have bad Internet connections may be unable to see the screen. People who are blind or have low vision may also be unable to see the screen, and cannot read the screen-share contents using assistive technology. For the benefit of anyone who may be unable to see your screen, verbalize what is seen and the actions you are taking.
    • Share materials ahead of time. Send any materials you plan to display through screen sharing to your participants ahead of time. This allows everyone to access the materials and follow along even if they cannot see the screen share during the meeting.

    Polling

    There are creative ways to use the polling feature for participation during meetings or to survey participants. Hosts should keep these best practices in mind:

    • Ensure everyone can participate. The polling feature is accessible to people who use assistive technology. It is not usable, however, by people who are joining a meeting by phone. If you have participants joining by phone, offer an alternative way for them to send in feedback.
    • Alert participants when launching a poll. Notify participants verbally when you are launching a poll. This is especially helpful for assistive technology users as well as anyone who may not be looking at their screen.
    • Give enough time. Allow plenty of time for participants to find and participate in the poll.

    Breakout Rooms

    Breakout rooms can be used for small-group discussion and collaboration.

    • Plan ahead for technical difficulties. Some devices and technical set-ups do not allow participants to join breakout rooms. See Zoom’s breakout room guidance for more information. Participants who cannot join breakout rooms can use the main room as an alternative space for discussion.
    • Pay attention to accommodations. If live captionists or ASL interpreters are present, make sure to assign them to the same breakout room as the participant receiving the live captioning or ASL interpreting.
    • Give participants the ability to record. If the Zoom session is being recorded for later review or captioning, the host will need to give participants the ability to record if the host will not be in the breakout room that needs to be recorded.

    ASL Interpretation

    ASL interpreters will need to join the call just like any other participant and share their video. Interpreters should have the Zoom application downloaded on their device before joining the call for best functionality.

    Participants who wish to view the ASL interpreter should select “Pin Video” in the context menu (“...”), which is available by hovering over the interpreter’s video thumbnail. (Please note: Accessing the Pin Video feature currently requires the use of the mouse to hover. This issue has been reported to the vendor.)

    The context menu for a participant showing the "Pin Video" option.

    Students registered with the Disability Resource Center can arrange for ASL interpreting through their Access Consultant. All other individuals can contact the Disability Resource Center.

    Reference: Sign Language Interpreter in Zoom

    Closed Captioning

    For live captioning (or “real-time captioning”) provided by a person (not an automated service), there are two steps that are required in order to incorporate live captions into your Zoom session.

    1. The session host will need to enable closed captioning in their Zoom account.
    2. Secondly, the captionist will need to be provided with a way to add captions to the Zoom meeting. There are two ways to do this.

    Students registered with the Disability Resource Center can arrange for live captioning through their Access Consultant. All other individuals who need to arrange live captioning for an accommodation can contact the Disability Resource Center.

    Reference: Closed Captions in Zoom

Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader is a free tool that implements proven techniques to improve reading and writing for people, regardless of their age or ability. This tool is compatible with Microsoft Word and the Microsoft Edge web browser. 

  • Windows 10: Immersive Reader and Microsoft Word

    Go to View > Learning Tools, and select your options:

    • Column Width changes line length to improve focus and comprehension.
    • Page Color can make text easy to scan with less eye strain.
    • Line Focus removes distractions so that you can move through a document line by line. Adjust the focus to put one, three, or five lines in view at a time. The Line Focus option is available only to Office Insiders for now.
    • Text Spacing increases the spacing between words, characters, and lines.
    • Syllables show breaks between syllables, to improve word recognition and pronunciation.
    • Read Aloud lets you hear your document as each word is highlighted. Use the playback controls to start and stop the narration, to change the speed of the reading, and to switch between reading voices.
  • macOS: Immersive Reader and Microsoft Word

    Go to View > Learning Tools, and select your options:

    • Column Width changes line length to improve focus and comprehension.
    • Page Color can make text easy to scan with less eye strain.
    • Text Spacing increases the spacing between words, characters, and lines.
    • Syllables shows breaks between syllables, to improve word recognition and pronunciation.
    • Read Aloud lets you hear your document as each word is highlighted. Use the playback controls to start and stop the narration, to change the speed of the reading, and to switch between reading voices.
  • iPad: Immersive Reader and Microsoft Word

    Learning Tools in Word for iPad has a set of tools to assist with reading, fluency, and comprehension. In Word, find learning tools under the View tab.

    Slide the toggle to the right to launch the Learning Tools tab.

    Showing View tab on the document

  • Web Client: Immersive Reader and Microsoft Word

    On the View tab, in the Document Views group, select Immersive Reader. Your document opens within Immersive Reader.
    Immersive Reader

     

  • Microsoft Edge Web Browser

    Learning Tools are built into the Microsoft Edge browser, adding more options for readers in your class to interact with texts. 

    Immersive Reader in Microsoft Edge now has Learning Tools features such as Read aloud, page themes, text size, syllables, and parts of speech highlighting.

    Immersive Reader options

    Immersive Reader in Microsoft Edge simplifies the layout of text and images, reducing distractions and allowing students to choose how they want to read online publications. Select Immersive Reader Icon of an open book with a speaker over it in the address bar.


Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word has text-to-speech functionality. Word has two different options for reading documents aloud, Read Aloud and Speak.

Read Aloud in Microsoft Word

  • Read Aloud

    In the Review tab, select Read Aloud. A toolbar will appear in the top right of the window below the tabs. With this toolbar, you can read a document, go forward or backward by one sentence, or change the reading options. Select the area of text you want to read and then select the Play button.

    Reading Options

    The reading options feature a slider which adjusts the reading speed and a voice selection dropdown menu which opens every available reading voice.

  • Speak

    Speak will read either the word the cursor is near or a selected section of text. While Speak is reading text, select the icon again to stop reading.

    Adding Speak to Word

    Speak is not accessible in Word by default. Several steps must be taken to add this functionality to Word.

    1. From the File menu, select Options from the bottom left corner of the window.
    2. Navigate to the Customize Ribbon section. Speak must be used in a custom group, so you will need to create one.
    3. Select the tab you want Speak to be present in from the right side of the menu and then select Custom Group. Use the Rename icon to rename the group so it stands out.
    4. From the left side of the menu, change the dropdown menu at the top from Popular Commands to Commands Not in the Ribbon. Scroll down until Speak is visible.
    5. Select Speak, and then select the new group you created. Then select Add > > from the middle of the menu to add Speak to the new group. Select OK to exit the menu.

    Speak can also be added to the Quick Access Toolbar. To do this, follow the instructions above, but select Quick Access Toolbar instead of Customize Ribbon. 

    • To remove Speak, go back to Customize Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar, depending on where you added Speak to. Select Speak from the right side of the menu and then select < < Remove. If you added Speak to the Ribbon, you may want to remove the entire group rather than just Speak.