Assistive Technology

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is 'any device or system that allows individuals to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do or increases the ease and safety with which tasks can be performed' (World Health Organisation, 2004). It is a broad term that refers to any tool, low tech or high tech, which can be used to enable student learning.

Assistive technology is changing rapidly and it is no longer confined to being specialised, high-tech equipment. It can be low tech, free/low-cost technology or settings that are built-in to consumer devices. Assistive technology can also be used to benefit a wide range of students in the classroom.

Some examples of assistive technology that are used regularly in classrooms include:

  • literacy software or built in settings that allow text to be read aloud to a student
  • software or settings that adjust the screen display to suit a student’s needs
  • tools that allow magnification of content on a screen
  • speech to text tools that allow a student to dictate their writing
  • communication tools that can be low or high tech.

Making decisions about assistive technology

As part of the personalised learning and support process, assistive technology may be considered as a way to support a student’s access to the curriculum.

Decision-making about assistive technology starts at the school and includes the student, the parents or carers and relevant staff.

The school learning and support team facilitates the personalised learning and support process where appropriate adjustments are considered. These adjustments may include the use of assistive technology to support the student’s access and participation in their learning.

Local School Services can provide additional support if needed.

Professional learning

  • Personalising Learning with Technology Course. This NSW Department of Education e-learning course will assist teachers to make informed decisions about choosing and implementing technology to support students with diverse needs. Enrol in the course through the myPL course link or visit myPL and search for the course code RG02751. (Please note the course is best completed using the Edge or Chrome browser). For more information see the short course introduction video below (2min 42sec). Audio description version of Intro video

Read the transcript for the Personalising Learning with Technology Introduction Video

  • The department’s NESA accredited online course, Understanding Personalised Learning and Support includes useful information regarding assistive technology for teachers and support staff in NSW public schools. The course aims to build and strengthen the capacity of teachers and schools to identify and respond to the individual learning and support needs of every student, particularly those with disability or additional needs in learning.

Accessibility options on a range of technology

Many devices have built in accessibility features which can assist students to access the curriculum, including:

Assistive technology and the NDIS

How-to videos

These videos show how to set up and use assistive technology in the classroom. They are organised into four sections for easy access and some videos appear in more than one section.

If you have any suggestions for more videos or if you are interested in co-developing a video, please fill out the assistive technology video form.

Video - Speak selection on the iPad.

Duration - 2:43

Speak selection on the iPad is an inbuilt accessibility tool which can support students with reading difficulties. It allows a student to select text on the screen which can be read aloud. The speed, language and voice can be adjusted to suit the student’s needs and the text can be highlighted while read. Visit the Apple accessibility website for more information.

Read the transcript for the speak selection video.


Video - Microsoft Learning Tools

Duration - 3:04

Microsoft Learning Tools is a free resource which can be used to support students with reading and writing difficulties. It includes a range of features to support students including text to speech, adjustable display of text and colour, picture dictionary, line focus and it can highlight certain word features. Visit www.onenote.com/learningtools for more information.

Read the transcript for the Microsoft learning tools video.


Video - Voice typing in Google Docs

Duration - 2:07

Voice typing in Google Docs is an easy to use tool which allows students to dictate their writing and is very useful in removing the barriers that many students face with writing.

Read the transcript for the Voice typing in Google Docs video


Video - Safari reader on the iPad

Duration - 1:49

Safari Reader is an accessibility tool that is built into the Safari browser on the iPad and helps people to declutter webpages and it provide a clear, personalised reading experience for students. Visit the Apple accessibility website for more information.

Read the transcript for the Safari reader on the iPad video


Video - Dictation on the iPad

Duration - 2:09

Dictation on the iPad is an inbuilt accessibility tool which can be useful for students who have difficulty with typing or spelling.  This tool allows students to dictate or talk into their iPad and it will write for them. This feature appears on the on screen keyboard, next to the spacebar, which allows for the student to use this speech to text tool as an alternative to whenever they need to type, such as searching something online, sending an email, or working on a document. Visit the Apple accessibility website for more information.

Read the transcript for the Dictation on the iPad video


Video - Windows 10 ease of access

Duration - 2:50

You can personalise your student’s computer settings in Windows 10 by visiting the Ease of Access centre. Here you will find a range of adjustable settings for optimising the computer for people who are blind, optimising the visual display, using the computer without a mouse or keyboard, making the keyboard and mouse easier to use, making it easier to focus on tasks, adjusting the contrast and many others.

Read the transcript for the Windows 10 ease of access video

Video - Speak screen on the iPad

Duration - 1:49

Speak Screen on the iPad is a useful tool which allows a student to have all content on the screen read aloud. They simply need to swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers and it will begin reading. Visit the Apple accessibility website for more information.

Read the transcript for the Speak screen on the iPad video


Video - Adobe Connect screen sharing

Duration - 5:52

Adobe Connect has a screen sharing feature which allows a student with vision impairment the ability to view what is displayed on a teacher’s computer or smartboard on their device. The student can then adjust their device settings to suit their needs, such as using magnification tools or inverting contrast settings. See the instruction guide for setting this up.

Read the transcript for the Adobe Connect screen sharing video


Video - Windows 10 ease of access

Duration - 2:50

You can personalise your student’s computer settings in Windows 10 by visiting the Ease of Access centre. Here you will find a range of adjustable settings for optimising the computer for people who are blind, optimising the visual display, using the computer without a mouse or keyboard, making the keyboard and mouse easier to use, making it easier to focus on tasks, adjusting the contrast and many others.

Read the transcript for the Windows 10 ease of access video


Video - Voice typing in Google Docs

Duration - 2:07

Voice typing in Google Docs is an easy to use tool which allows students to dictate their writing and is very useful in removing the barriers that many students face with writing.

Read the transcript for the Voice typing in Google Docs video


Video - Dictation on the iPad

Duration - 2:09

Dictation on the iPad is an inbuilt accessibility tool which can be useful for students who have difficulty with typing or spelling.  This tool allows students to dictate or talk into their iPad and it will write for them. This feature appears on the on screen keyboard, next to the spacebar, which allows for the student to use this speech to text tool as an alternative to whenever they need to type, such as searching something online, sending an email, or working on a document. Visit the Apple accessibility website for more information.

Read the transcript for the Dictation on the iPad video

Video - Windows 10 ease of access

Duration - 2:50

You can personalise your student’s computer settings in Windows 10 by visiting the Ease of Access centre. Here you will find a range of adjustable settings for optimising the computer for people who are blind, optimising the visual display, using the computer without a mouse or keyboard, making the keyboard and mouse easier to use, making it easier to focus on tasks, adjusting the contrast and many others.

Read the transcript for the Windows 10 ease of access video

Video - Windows 10 ease of access

Duration - 2:50

You can personalise your student’s computer settings in Windows 10 by visiting the Ease of Access centre. Here you will find a range of adjustable settings for optimising the computer for people who are blind, optimising the visual display, using the computer without a mouse or keyboard, making the keyboard and mouse easier to use, making it easier to focus on tasks, adjusting the contrast and many others.

Read the transcript for the Windows 10 ease of access video


Video - Voice typing in Google Docs

Duration - 2:07

Voice typing in Google Docs is an easy to use tool which allows students to dictate their writing and is very useful in removing the barriers that many students face with writing.

Read the transcript for the Voice typing in Google Docs video


Video - Dictation on the iPad

Duration - 2:09

Dictation on the iPad is an inbuilt accessibility tool which can be useful for students who have difficulty with typing or spelling.  This tool allows students to dictate or talk into their iPad and it will write for them. This feature appears on the on screen keyboard, next to the spacebar, which allows for the student to use this speech to text tool as an alternative to whenever they need to type, such as searching something online, sending an email, or working on a document. Visit the Apple accessibility website for more information.

Read the transcript for the Dictation on the iPad video

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