COAA - Available Assistive Tools and Technology
Providing accessible content and using assistive technologies benefits a larger population than only those individuals with disabilities. The number of technologies available is growing quickly! Many of the tools are free; others do have a cost. UVA offers a few of these titles to the University community free of charge or through SDAC or the ADA Coordinator as an accommodation.
*NOTE: When utilizing tools that record audio and/or video, University Policy PROV-008 dictates that recording is permissible only as an accommodation or by instructor consent.
- Assistive Technologies
- Tools for Creating Accessible Content
- Help From Peers
- Mobile Apps and Other Resources
Assistive technologies (AT) are solutions to help individuals with disabilities complete a task. These technologies may be anything from "low-tech" (something as simple as a magnifying glass, reading glasses, or pencil grip) to "high tech" (something as sophisticated as screen reading software or refreshable braille displays). The cost for these solutions run from free to thousands of dollars.
The tools under the "Assistive Technologies" heading not only assist individuals with disabilities but provide options to increase the usability of content for all users. You do not need to identify as a person with a disability to use these tools! For instance, if you have a long Word document to read, run it through SensusAccess and convert it to a .mp3 audio file. Then play it through your smartphone as you take a walk or workout.
Students who qualify for accommodations through the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) may be provided these solutions by the University as part of their accommodation. Employees of the University with a disability may also qualify for assistive technologies by following the Workplace Accommodations process or in consultation with the University's ADA Coordinator.
- Create notes from in-person, online events, other important voice conversations. This tool is available through the web for your desktop/laptop and as a mobile app for Apple and Android smartphones. Accounts are available through the Learning Tech software catalog.
- Read & Write Literacy Software (texthelp)
- Read & Write is a discreet toolbar that offers tasks such as reading text out loud, a dictionary for understanding unfamiliar words, word prediction, language translation, built-in research assistance, and proofing written work. In addition to assisting individuals with print disabilities such as dyslexia or other learning disabilities, it is designed in line with UDL (Universal Design for Learning) principles serving as a welcome tool for individuals whose first language is not English. When used on a tablet or hand-held device, the toolbar is replaced with an alternative keyboard.
- Available for Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android, Google Chrome
- Available through the ITS Software Gateway
- SensusAccess is an on-demand file format conversion tool. This cloud-based service automatically converts documents into alternative media, including audiobooks (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3, and Mobi), and digital Braille.
- Blackboard Ally - McIntire School of Commerce only
- Although we currently do not have a University-wide license, Grammarly's free version is used by many, while licensed versions are in use in McIntire and piloted (as of Feb 2021) in Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services.
- Grammarly is a digital writing assistant supporting clear and effective communication. In addition to grammar, it provides spell-check, tone, and writing complexity checking through machine learning.
Available as an accommodation or individual/departmental purchase:
- Sonocent Audio Notetaker*
- Audio Notetaker records classes and meetings, allowing the user to chunk like topics as well as annotate by adding photos, slides, and text notes alongside the recordings.
- Speech recognition software.
Tools for Creating Accessible Content
More guidance for creating accessible content can be found on the UVA Digital Accessibility / Creating Accessible Content webpage.
Several of the tools we use every day have accessibility checkers and other features embedded and available at any time.
- Microsoft Office
- Apple Accessibility
- Windows Accessibility
- National Center on Disability and Access to Education: Cheatsheets for Creating Accessible Documents
- Penn State
- Information relating to general course accessibility and how to work with STEM/technical and foreign-language content.
- University of Washington - DO•IT
- 20 Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course
- University of Washington: Getting Started with Accessibility
- Portland Community College
- Accessibility of Online Content
- Additional information from peers can be found on the UVA Digital Accessibility website and within this website, specifically on the Instructional Resources pages.
Examples of Mobile Apps and Other Resources(not all have been tested by UVA):
- RightHear (iOS/Android)
- An app providing orientation in public spaces for individuals who are blind or visually impaired within a previously configured accessible zone. Although not currently implemented at UVA, this tool may be helpful in other locations. More information is available on their website.
- Be My Eyes (iOS/Android)
- A free app that connects individuals who are blind or with low-vision with sighted volunteers and company representatives through a live video call.
- Tap Tap See (iOS/Android)
- The app utilizes the device’s camera and VoiceOver functions to photograph objects and identify them out loud for the user.
- Talking Calculator (iOS)
- This and other talking calculators are available for hand-held devices and tablets.
- RightHear (iOS/Android)
- Speech recognition software designed to understand non-standard speech due to ALS, brain injury, stroke, Parkinson's, Cerebral Palsy
UVA Libraries provide devices in various libraries:
- Pico Handheld Magnifiers
- Topaz Desktop Video Magnifiers