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.
We've compiled an Information Sheet about Texthelp, to help you set up the toolbar. We have also created some short training videos covering features such as Setting up the toolbar, spell checking, text-to-speech, screen tinting, making documents more accessible, and how to use the Office Lens APP with Texthelp.
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 (Edinburgh only)
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.
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 (Edinburgh only)
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 - please ask your Disability Advisor
Download an information sheet on AudioNotetaker.
If you're new to AudioNotetaker, the best place to start is the inbuilt welcome video and tutorial in the Help section of the software. You can also access tutorial and video help files from the website.
We have created a short instructional / demo video of the software.
There is an app also available for both Android and iOS devices called Sonocent Recorder. This allows you to record using your phone, and transfer the files over to the Audio Notetaker. While there is a limited function free version of the app, there is also a 60 day trial version of the full version of the app and the audio Notetaker sofware for students applying for DSA (Disabled Students Allowance).
ssOverlay is a free software package available from fx-software. 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.
While ssOverlay is no longer available as an individual download, it is still part of a free suite of assistive software programs available at Call Scotland.
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.