5 ways assistive tech can help you study

“Disability is a mismatched interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the environment in which they live”

— World Health Organization, World report on disability, 2011

Assistive technologies are tools to bridge this mismatch. Users unable to view information on a computer screen can use a screen reader to hear the content. Users with hearing impairment can read subtitles instead of relying on audio content in a video.

Assistive technologies like these have been made possible by significant advances in technology over the last century and have been instrumental in increasing equitability of inclusion, independence and access to information for people with disability. Consider that 70 years ago, the only way to access news was in a newspaper. A person unable to read the paper because of a vision impairment would be reliant on other people for this information.

Today, news can be accessed via a multitude of platforms using different tools to convey the information audibly, visually or even through touch, using assistive technology. Furthermore, these technological advances to support individuals with disability also improve accessibility across the board – offering more flexibility for everyone to access information and perform tasks in a variety of ways that suit their needs, abilities and preferences.

Person speaking to laptop with text on screen

Have a lot to write? Try dictation

You can use dictation to write without a keyboard – particularly useful for people with a motor impairment or injury who find it hard to use a keyboard. Just say out loud what you need written down and your computer or phone can transcribe it for you. 
Learn more about dictation on Microsoft Word

Laptop with smiling face and speech bubble

Tired of looking at screens? Try a screen reader

You can use a screen reader to listen to written digital content – it’s like an audiobook for your phone or computer. Screen readers are developed for people with a vision impairment or blindness to navigate and access digital information. They can also be really useful if you’ve got a lot to read or you’re just tired of looking at a screen (especially now we’re all spending a lot more time online).
Learn more about VoiceOver on Mac
Learn more about Narrator on Windows

Television with subtitles

Can’t find your headphones? Try subtitles

You can use subtitles to watch a video without sound. Though subtitles were developed for people with a hearing impairment, they’re also great if there’s too much background noise or you’re viewing TV late at night. Watching videos with subtitles as well as audio is also a good way to improve your English language skills and better remember the content you’re watching (Fletcher & Tobias, 2005).
Learn more about subtitles on Netflix
Learn more about subtitles on YouTube

Want to be more efficient? Try keyboard shortcuts

Anything that can be done on your computer with a mouse can also be done with a keyboard. This isn’t just useful for people with a motor impairment who are unable to use a mouse; keyboard shortcuts can help everyone use a computer more efficiently. For example, tapping Ctrl/Cmd+C is much quicker than moving your mouse to the Edit menu, clicking Edit and then Copy. Copy and paste is just the beginning of the keyboard shortcuts that can save you time!
Learn more about keyboard shortcuts on Google Chrome
Learn more about keyboard shortcuts on Microsoft Office

Phone in the sun with screen glare

Sun glare on your screen? Try high contrast mode or larger text

You can use high contrast mode or enlarge the text on your phone to be more visible when you’re out in the sun. These options were developed to enable people with low vision to read. High contrast mode changes the colour of text to suit the user, for example black text on a white background can be changed to yellow text on a black background.
Learn more about text display setting on iPhone
Learn more about text display setting on Android 

Disability Inclusion Week at Sydney is 21–25 September 2020
Find out more about Disability Services at Sydney

Fletcher, J., & Tobias, S. (2005). The Multimedia Principle. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 117-134). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511816819.008

World report on disability. (2011). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/