Assistive software on the University network

We have a variety of assistive technology available at Heriot-Watt University:

Texthelp Read & Write Gold

Texthelp Read & Write Gold is an easy to use toolbar containing support tools to make reading, writing and research easier for you. Features include:

  • Text-to-Speech: Have text read back to you from Word and PDF documents, emails, websites.
  • Text-to-Audio File: Turn text into an audio file, such as an MP3.
  • Phonetic Spell Checking: Easily check your document for spelling errors.
  • Dictionary: Provides definitions and alternative words. Basic, Advanced and Online Dictionaries
  • Screen Masking: Mask out all or part of the screen with a tint colour of your choice.

Here are some links to short videos covering features such as Setting up the toolbar, spell checking, text-to-speech, screen tinting, and making documents more accessible.


Inspiration is a piece of mind mapping software, sometimes referred to as spider diagrams. Its visual thinking and mind mapping tools are specifically designed to help facilitate the learning process and tap into each student's natural creativity.

Using this software you can easily begin an assignment by brainstorming and organising ideas, which it will transform into a structured outline with just one click.

There is a short instructional video showing how to get started with the programe.


MindGenius is an alternative to Inspiration and is another powerful planning and brainstorming tool. Heriot-Watt's MindGenius licencing allows students to download and install the software on their own computers.

Learn how to download MindGenius.

There are Power Hour sessions available on this piece of software. Find the dates and times via the University's A-Z list of Power Hour sessions.

Find out more on how to use the software on the MindGenius website.

Audio Notetaker

Audio Notetaker offers a visual and interactive form of note taking, one where audio, text and images/PowerPoint slides can be combined to create comprehensive notes, with all your information in one place. Some of the features of Audio Notetaker are:

  • Split your recording up into natural “chapters” to tie in with individual topics your lecturer covers in a lecture
  • Edit recordings, removing parts which are superfluous, reorder sections in the way you want them, and use colour coding
  • Create your own notes, at your own pace
  • Keep everything in one place – text, images, slides, audio - which is very helpful for revision, research and presentation notes
  • Trim all pauses and silences in your recording at a click of a button, to save time when playing back.

Please note that permission is required to record lectures

If you are new to Audio Notetaker, the best place to start is the inbuilt welcome video and tutorial in the Help section of the software. You can also access their learning resources from the Sonocent web site.

We have created a short instructional / demo video of the software for on-campus usage, and a video about using it for online recording.


Colorveil is a free software package available from the aurelitec web site.

It places a coloured overlay onto the computer screen. You can adjust the colour and transparency levels to suit your needs. It can be helpful in reducing:

  • Eye strain or headaches when reading
  • Words moving or being blurry
  • Poor concentration
  • Problems associated with glare from the screen.

 Balabolka and Scottish Voices

Balabolka is a free piece of text-to-speech software. It can read aloud, or convert into a sound file, any text copied into its window. It allows you to read text from websites, word documents and PDF files and create sound files, such as mp3s, for your mobile devices.

You can download Balabolka.

A detailed guidance PDF is available.

If you would like Balabolka to read with Scottish voices you can download Heather & Stuart created by CALL Scotland. To download and install these voices, you will need to complete your details and use your Heriot-Watt e-mail address to satisfy the conditions.

Other software for students

There is other software available from Information Services.

Key information

Arran Brown

Job title
Assistive Technology Advisor
+44 131 451 4267