Assistive technology

There is enabling technology available through a number of avenues that can assist students with their studies:

Useful apps for phones and tablets

A selection of apps for both Android and iOS that we consider useful for study, organisation and general well-being.

Loan equipment

We have a limited stock of ergonomic and assistive technology-related equipment, which can be issued as loan equipment through arrangement with our advisors.

Free Software (Windows)


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 made available by the EduApps organisation.

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 from the Cross+A website.

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.

If you have any general assistive technology queries, you can contact:

Arran Brown, Assistive Technology Advisor,, 0131 451 4267

Key information

PJ Dewar

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