Disabled Students Allowances

Review – Text Aid by ReadSpeaker

Text Aid by ReadSpeaker is a web-based text-to-speech solution which can be accessed from any online device, making it a great option for students working on different computers at school, university and at home. This program enables users to listen to an audio version of any text, anywhere with a choice to download it for later listening if required. 

We were impressed with the natural-sounding computer voice and that you can read along with the text highlighted at the same time. This is particularly useful for those who struggle with reading and information processing as the listener is then free to focus on the meaning of content rather than just the act of reading itself. Having content read aloud decodes the text, improving comprehension which in turn increases motivation and self-confidence. You can also personalise the experience by choosing how the content is displayed with fonts, spacing and colour options that suit you.

This application is ideal for absorbing long articles such as scientific texts and PDF documents while studying, leaving you to take in information while you multi-task – whether that’s commuting, cooking or even exercising!

Find out more about this program and search for similar software in our comprehensive guide. If you feel you would benefit from support like this from the Disabled Students’ Allowances, check your eligibility here.  

If you’d like to find out more about the DSA or how assistive technology could help you, call or email Ultima Education today.

Review – Caption.Ed

This Chrome browser extension allows you to caption online live and pre-recorded audio media automatically. Caption.Ed is powered by best in class speech to text technology and is quick and easy to use, providing you with highly accurate captions in real time.

If you have difficulty with listening and writing or typing at the same time, this application would be helpful as it takes the worry out of making notes while trying to pay attention to what is being said. In addition, it’s ideal for captioning media during a virtual lecture or a Zoom call with a tutor, as well as with captioning study materials from video channels such as YouTube.

Once installed in your browser, one click brings up a simple window with control settings where you can choose the subject matter to be captioned and adjust the text size, font and background colour to a more personally accessible format. 

When you’re ready to put it to work, you simply select start your media to begin captioning, and your captions window will appear on your screen. The text will scroll in time with the speaker’s voice but you can turn this function off if desired.  We found this intuitive to use and were impressed that it will even work with accented voices and highly specialised terminology which is essential when studying. Need to refer to the content again? You can also download a full transcript to refer to later on. 

Once you have a Caption.Ed account, you can use it across multiple devices which is handy when you’re working at different computers either on campus, on the move or at home.

Could Caption.Ed help you study better? Students eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowances can get this software as well as other tech tailored to their specific needs in their personalised funding package – find out here if you can access this support.

Discover more software that could boost your learning with our comprehensive guide where you can use the filter option to find the software that best meets your needs.

If you’d like to find out more about the DSA or how assistive technology could help you, call or email Ultima Education today.

Review – TalkType Dictation

If you prefer working on a Mac, TalkType Dictation could increase productivity and help you work faster and more efficiently. This voice recognition software provides users with the freedom to type and control their computer with their voice, and with perfect spelling. Whether it’s law, health science, engineering or something else you’re studying, this Mac-based voice control software has been designed with students in mind and can tune into your specific course to instantly recognise subject-specific terminology.

If you have a motor or co-ordination impairment, this application can prove extremely helpful as you can write with your voice alone without the need for a keyboard or mouse. TalkType Dictation is also a good choice for those with ADHD and mental health conditions who may struggle with concentration and converting thoughts into writing, and for students with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia who can find grammar, spelling and composition of written work challenging. Whilst speaking, TalkType is accurately able to remove any ‘uhhs’ or ‘ahhs’ and correctly inputs punctuation automatically.

Simply use your voice to create essays, presentations and coursework and transcribe quickly and accurately into your favourite application such as MS Office, iMail and Google Chrome.

This specialist software allows limitless continuous dictation unlike in-built Mac dictation which is capped to 1 minute and available online only. We also like that this application can be used offline with no internet connection necessary.

Discover more about this and alternative dictation software with our comprehensive guide. 

Jump to our DSA guide to find information on the support you could be entitled to with the Disabled Students’ Allowances.

If you’d like to find out more about the DSA or how assistive technology could help you, call or email Ultima Education today.

Review – Claro Writing Helper

Independent learning is a key part of studying at university but taking responsibility for your workload and managing deadlines can often feel overwhelming. Take essay writing for example. It can be a daunting task with many components which need to be pulled together and for students with processing difficulties, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, it can feel a real struggle. 

If you experience reading and writing difficulties you may already be aware of ClaroRead which helps people with dyslexia read, write and study. Claro Writing Helper is the latest release from Claro software offering a structured approach to essay writing, organising your information and breaking it down into manageable chunks.  

Each stage of the process is captured, prompting you to populate fields with information which step by step helps you create a strong piece of writing you can be proud of.  You start with the essay question and a deadline, and end with your essay in a Word format, complete with bibliography! What we really like about this piece of software is the ability to focus on each stage separately, leaving you able to build your essay in a clear and uncluttered way. And although you are guided through the process, you are the one creating all the content which encourages planning, writing and reading skills and confidence for future projects.

The software allows you to brainstorm, set reminders, open files or websites to find important sections and then slot them straight into your essay whilst having the ability to reorganise the information by dragging and dropping chunks of text. The healthcheck function is also helpful, reviewing the whole essay and giving links directly to where you can go to fix issues.

For more programs to aid reading and writing, take a look at our software guide. Want to know more about applying for the Disabled Students’ Allowances? Get in touch today for advice on what to do first.

If you’d like to find out more about the DSA or how assistive technology could help you, call or email Ultima Education today.

Succeed in education, and beyond

As Needs Assessors, we are constantly demonstrating and learning about all the amazing assistive technology (AT) that’s available to help students succeed in their studies.

One of our most important roles is identifying which tech will best suit you and your unique requirements and we do that with in-depth knowledge of all the latest assistive software

Finding the right software can make a huge difference to your studies, allowing you to work faster and more effectively. It’s a set of tools to help you get the most out of school, college or university and skills to eventually take into the workplace.

Did you know that the software and hardware you get with DSA funding is yours to keep forever? 

Specialist software such as ClaroRead and Sonocent Audio Notetaker are examples of well-known programs recommended by assessors, but Student Finance England recently approved four new applications. Check out our reviews of Claro Writing Helper, TalkType Dictation, TalkType Caption.Ed and Text Aid by ReadSpeaker to find out what they’re all about and how they can help you achieve more in higher education. 

If you’d like to discover more software that could boost your learning and help overcome any barriers you may face when studying, jump to our comprehensive guide where you can use the filter option to find the software that best meets your needs.

Did you know that Assistive Technology training is included in your DSA funding?

A frequently asked question from the students we assess is how they get to grips with all this new tech once their recommendations have been approved. Helpfully, one-to-one and/or online training packages are included as part of the DSA funding so you can find your way round your new ‘toolkit’ at a time and pace that works for you. You’re then ready to use the software to its fullest potential, giving you more confidence and control on your journey through higher education. 

If you’d like to find out more about the DSA or how assistive technology could help you, call or email Ultima Education today.

Make studying remotely work for you

2020 freshers are facing a very different university experience with a mix of face-to-face and digital learning and many social events taking place virtually, but how does this impact disabled students?

Remote learning can present far from ideal studying conditions such as balancing a laptop on your knees, sitting on a chair that aggravates a health condition, trying to concentrate in a busy common room or not having access to a printer. 

If you have a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia or ADHD, or long-term health conditions like diabetes and hypermobility which affects your ability to study, your university will offer support and other reasonable adjustments for you. 

But did you know there’s an additional support package available which can provide you with equipment to make studying remotely work better for you?

The Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs for short) provide funding and support which is individually tailored to your specific requirements.  Support available can include specialist equipment, non-medical help such as study skills and mentoring support, and travel costs for placements and study trips.

If you’re a UK student with evidence of a disability, you are likely to be eligible for the DSA – find out more with our in-depth guide.

No more working at the kitchen table

Once your funding body has approved your application for DSA, you will be asked to book a needs assessment where an assessor will listen to the challenges you experience and demonstrate software and equipment that can best support your difficulties – find out what happens in a needs assessment here. This is a great chance to say what you think will be most useful, you are the expert here!

Examples of equipment you could get include specialist ergonomic seating, a specialist keyboard and mouse, a height adjustable desk, a laptop with monitor stand and other items such as a printer, recording equipment and an external monitor. Here’s a more detailed list of what is available with this support.

A bespoke learning experience

In terms of studying itself, there are many software programmes that can offer ways of working that work for you. Your assessor will show you examples of specialist software such as text-to-speech, voice recognition and audio recording, all of which can help you fulfil your academic potential. 

All students may get access to a few sessions of study skills advice or counselling, but students with DSA funding can receive specialist one-to-one study skills and mentoring support on a weekly basis throughout their course.

This tailored support and regular contact can be hugely beneficial for students with mental health conditions and specific learning difficulties including ADHD and/or ASD, and can aid organisation, time management and the development of learning strategies.

Find out more about all the types of non-medical help available here.

So, studying off-campus can work well for everyone, with the right support in place. 

Get the support you’re entitled to

If you have any questions about the DSA or are unsure if you are eligible, contact Ultima Education to get advice on what to do next. Call or email us today!

Free support to help students succeed

Starting a degree can feel overwhelming and even more so if you have a mental health condition, specific learning difficulty or long-term health condition which affects your ability to study.

Whether its anxiety, depression, dyslexia, ADHD or diabetes, if you’re a UK student with evidence of a disability, you are likely to be eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance – find out more with our in-depth guide.

The DSA provides a package of support which is individually tailored to your specific requirements such as specialist equipment, non-medical help such as study skills and mentoring support, and travel costs for placements and study trips.

Click here for a detailed list of what you can and can’t get with this funding

What’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one – Disabled Students’ Allowances do not need to be paid back, are not means tested and do not affect your general student finance application or eligibility for any other funding sources. Applying for the DSA is a fairly simple, three-step process and ensures that you’re in charge of your support rather than someone else deciding what is best for you.

Once your funding body has approved your application, you’ll need to attend a needs assessment where you get to say what you need from the funding to succeed in your studies. Here at Ultima Education, we have a team of specialist assessors with a wealth of experience and extensive knowledge in matching students with the most beneficial support to enhance their learning.

Our accredited centres offer remote assessments with evening and weekend appointments available that fit around your schedule. We’ll keep you updated and in control every step of the way and your assessor is always on hand for help and advice.

See what what other students have said about their experience

If you’ve not yet applied for DSA, it’s not too late, even if you’re embarking on your final year. Getting this support in place early means one less thing to think about as you start university and will help you reach your full academic potential. You’ll discover ways to work more effectively and independently, leaving more time to focus on your strengths and to do what you do best.

To chat about your options and to get advice and assistance with your application, call or email the Ultima Education team today.