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Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology (AT) refers to tools that make learning faster and easier for students with:

  • Reading barriers due to visual, learning, or other disabilities
  • Sensory barriers due to deafness, blindness, or other hearing/visual limitations
  • Keyboard barriers due to repetitive motion or spinal cord injuries, or coordination impairments
  • Spelling or expressive writing limitations

Talk to your Disability Resources specialist to determine if AT is tight for you and which AT is best for your needs.

Help with Reading

Software systems, such as Kurzweil and Read & Write Gold, display the text on a computer screen and, with a mouse click, read it to you. You can read/listen to text typed by the user, scanned in from printed pages (e.g., books, class handouts), or found on the Internet. AT reading systems also contain powerful study tools. With them, you can:

  • Read/listen to the text
  • Highlight the main ideas, details, vocabulary, etc in different colors
  • Make study guides from your highlighted text
  • Define and learn new vocabulary

Computers with these programs are in L122, L124, and L126 are available for use the in the Library.
Some programs on USB devices can be checked-out from the Library. See Reading Accommodations for more information.

Help with Writing

Most word processing systems alert you to spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, and sentence structure errors. If you need more robust help with these tasks, both Kurzweil 3000 and Read & Write Gold have easy to use features to help you improve your writing.

  • "Word prediction" feature predicting the word the user intends, based on spelling, syntax, and frequent/recent use. You find the right word, with fewer keystrokes.
  • Spell-check features define word choices so you can be sure you select the correct word.
  • Read back what you have written for better proof reading.
Organize Your Writing

Both of the above programs include "graphic organizer" and "outlining" features that help you organize and outline your information as you begin a writing project. You brainstorm your ideas, then organize them into appropriate categories, and click the "Outline" button for your working outline.

If you struggle with writing - or if writing comes easily - check out this powerful software. It is located on computers in L 122, L124, and L126, and is available for use in those rooms.

Speech Recognition Software (Dragon Naturally Speaking)

Speaks into a microphone, and your spoken words appear on the computer screen as text. This software is helps writers whose oral language skills are stronger than their writing skills, or users with coordination impairments that limit keyboarding.

Program Demo Links


Inspiration, a visual thinking and learning tool, can be used to plan, research and complete written projects. Writers can create graphic organizers and expand topics into writing.

Inspiration is available on computers in the AT rooms of the Library.

Read&Write Gold

Helps organize your writing with mapping, then converts the map to an outline. Word prediction and word definition features help find - and spell - the right word. Reads words and sentences as you type for easier proofreading.

Kurzweil 3000

Helps organize your writing with mapping, then converts the map to an outline. Word prediction and word definition features help find - and spell - the right word. Reads words and sentences as you type for easier proofreading.

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Eliminates use of key strokes and mouse when composing written documents - you just tell the computer what to write. Dragon requires some training to effectively use it, but the accuracy gets better with each use.

Kurzweil 1000

Designed for individuals with visual disabilities, Kurzweil 1000 scans and reads textbooks and other class materials as above, but uses all key strokes instead of mouse clicks. (Guarenteed rodent-free.)


Enlarges and reads text on computer screens, reads web pages. Have additional aids such as electronic "magnifying glass", line-by-line highlighting, contrasting text-to-background color combinations, text window sizing and screen reading.


Screen reading software developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content. JAWS reads aloud what's on the PC screen. It is compatible with the most frequently-used workplace and classroom applications.

Assistive Technology in the Library

The UMD Library provides the following assistive technology to full-time students. Computer problems should be reported to the ITSS lab consultant at the Library front desk. Some software is available on a flash drive to check-out from the Library.


  • Kurzweil 3000
  • Kurzweil 1000 MAGic®
  • JAWS®
  • ZoomText
  • Inspiration®
  • Victor Reader® (RFB&D software)
  • Read&Write GOLD
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking


  • Smartview CCTV
  • ET Brailler
  • Large, high-resolution display monitor
  • CCTV (Closed Circuit Television)
  • Adjustable-height workstation
  • Special trackball mouse
  • Digital scanner
  • Headset with microphone

Assistive Technology on a Stick

Some assistive technology, Kurzweil 3000 Learn Station and Zoomtext, a screen reader and magnifyer, is available on a USB flash drive for a two-week renewable check-out from the Library. Learn Station has all of the functionality of Kurzweil 3000 except for scanning and PDF compatability. Please contact Disability Resources for more information.

Another look at Assistive Technology

Assistive technology has made college accessible to students with disabilities in ways we could only dream about a few years ago. Some of the most exciting programs have been developed for students with learning disabilities. The short video linked below shows how powerful these learning tools can be. UMD has this software for both use in the Library and on USB devices for check-out. Be amazed!

Multi-Sensory Approach to Learning With Assistive Technology


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Last modified on 05/04/15 09:40 AM
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