Tech Assistance at School

In my last article, I described some of the helpful physical accommodations I use at school. In this article, I will detail the technological assistance accommodations I use for class! And honestly, they are super cool.

Unfortunately, most of these are not free and I actually received them through my university’s disability center so I did not have to pay for them, thankfully!

Assistive technology for school

I had to speak to a separate part of the disability center that specialized in assistive technology. We ran through my study habits, my disabilities, how I prepared for and sat for tests, etc. The specialist then suggested a few different apps for me. I am still playing around with some of them because they are a little difficult to use in the virtual space but they are pretty darn cool, nonetheless.

An app for recording and searching lectures

The first is an app that records the lectures. It’s not just a glorified tape recorder. I can upload my lecture powerpoints and sync both my professor’s audio and typed notes. When I go back to listen to the notes later, I can click on different words or sections, and it takes me to the specific point in the audio.

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Since my classes are exclusively remote, the audio doesn’t record as well as in person, but it does work surprisingly well given my computer is picking up the audio through a second layer (going through the microphone).

Text-to-speech reader

The next one is a text-to-speech application. My favorite part is the screen “blackout” option. I’m not entirely sure how to describe it except like that. It darkens the screen except for a highlighted line across it. It’s a straight ruler-esque portion that highlights one or two lines at a time as you read. This application highlights, scans into other files, converts them, and reads aloud pretty accurately. There is no inflection which sometimes makes listening a bit difficult. But, it allows me to rest my eyes and not strain them terribly from staring at my computer.

Unfortunately, for this one, I am mostly reading scientific articles and the app was not built for this kind of writing. The voice is rather entertaining but it's very difficult to retain information from these specific articles.

My student printing quota

Speaking of which, we added a new accommodation that allows me to print any online resources I may have without depleting my student printing quota. For example, one of my textbooks is exclusively online. Because of my Sjogren’s, I cannot stare at a computer screen for long periods of time. I have to print portions of this textbook. Of course, this is a bit difficult to do out-of-state, but once I return to campus this, will be extremely helpful.

We get a fair amount of pages for printing, but I would definitely run out and not have anything left to print out papers or other homework I may need to turn in!

My favorite app for school

Now for my favorite app ever! I would say this is not a cheap app, but it is available through the app stores: Notability. This app is a game-changer for me. I can upload my files directly into this application, write on them, note-take, and record audio.

Similar to the first application above, I can sync the audio to my notes and, during review, click on the note which takes me back to the specific point in the audio. I can highlight, copy, and paste and easily move between files. An extra in-app purchase includes converting writing to text so I don’t have to re-type things when cleaning up my notes. This one is a tough one sometimes because I do prefer to write out my notes. This is the best way for me to retain information; however, there is a dictation option for typing and you can print directly from the app!

These have all been game-changers for me coming back to school. I already have issues with my hands so I can’t imagine trying to take notes traditionally anymore.

What do you think? Would these help you, as well? Would you need something more? Let me know in the comments!

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