specialist software review

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.