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/

Welcome back to Rare Books & Special Collections

We’re excited to welcome you back to the Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) reading room in Fisher Library. After being closed earlier this year, the reading room has reopened for you to view the fascinating and priceless items held in these collections.

The reading room is open from 11am to 3pm, Monday to Friday by appointment only. Bookings are currently only available to University staff and students and need to be made at least two days in advance via Library Search. Walk-in access to RBSC without a booking is currently not available.

Self-service scanning and printing are available in the RBSC reading room. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are currently unable to provide stationery (e.g. pencils, notepad) or other materials, so we ask you to bring your own.

Learn more about our Rare Books & Special Collections, including how to request items and book an appointment for the reading room.

Rare Books & Special Collections reading room
Rare Books & Special Collections reading room

Celebrating Wear it Purple Day 2020

Join the Library on Friday 28th August to celebrate Wear It Purple Day! Wear It Purple Day is about showing LGBTQIA+ young people that they are accepted and have the right to be proud of who they are. This day is about creating safe spaces in schools, universities, workplaces and public spaces to show LGBTQIA+ young people that they are seen and supported.  

Wear it Purple Day was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of rainbow young people who took their own lives following bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity.  

If you’d like to get involved, the University’s Pride Network will host a discussion via Zoom on the topic of “Growing through Discrimination”. The panel will share personal stories and empower you with practical tools and support to traverse bullying, which is experienced by 3 in 4 young LGBTQIA+ Australians. Whether you are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or an ally, we encourage you to join this event that celebrates difference. RSVP to the Wear it Purple Day event.

Kick off a successful semester! Welcome back to the Library.

interior Law Library University of Sydney

The Library is open and we look forward to welcoming you back in Semester 2!

From 24 August, we will be increasing our services and opening more Library locations. Kick off a successful semester with the Library.

Fisher and Law libraries will be open 24/7 and Live Chat will available into the evening hours during the week to help with your library-related questions. 

A few of our other services available include:

  • Research consultations with your Academic Liaison Librarian will continue to be available online.
  • ThinkSpace, your very own tech haven, will be accessible by appointment. Book in a workshop or tech-time via our website.
  • SciTech, The Conservatorium, and Health Sciences libraries will be open weekends.

Requests and recalls will return to normal from 24 August (this includes overdue fines and fees). Use My account to see the items you have on loan, when they’re due or to renew.

Only current University staff and students have access to library buildings. You’ll need valid ID to swipe in, or register your attendance. We have Conditions of Entry to keep you and everyone else safe. These include practicing physical distancing and using hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes.  

For the most up-to-date information and a full list of services available, please see our COVID-19 Library updates and support page. 

New to Uni? Learn Essential Information & Digital Literacy Skills in LIBR1000

student using laptop

LIBR1000 is an online course available through Canvas aimed to equip first year students with the essential information literacy skills needed to excel during their time at uni. The course has been developed specifically for Arts and Social Sciences students however, it will benefit all first year students, specially those with information & digital literacy course requirements.

83% of students responding to the semester 1 course survey, said LIBR1000 would be useful for their future studies. Here are some of the specific things students appreciated about the course:

  • “Its structured nature, and the ability to complete it online in my own time.”
  • “Learning about the Library Search tools and system”
  • “I found the module on breaking down the assignment question helpful and search criteria”
  • “Understanding the distinctions of each skill (eg. primary and secondary sources). Very good to refresh the memory.”
  • “The information regarding referencing and clearing the blurred lines of paraphrasing and summarising.”

Coordinators can enrol their unit by contacting Rosemary O’Donnell: rosemary.odonnell@sydney.edu.au

Cataloguing the Graham Science Fiction Collection

Library staff working with Rare Books & Special Collections are invited to blog about significant items and interesting discoveries. Here, Rare Books & Special Collections cataloguing assistant Simon Cooper writes about the Graham Science Fiction Collection.

During the Covid-19 period the Rare Books & Special Collections cataloguing team has been tackling, from home and using photos, the books in the Graham science fiction (SF) collection. The books number around 30,000. In addition, the collection includes large holdings of comics and magazines, serials or journals, all still to be catalogued online.