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Ease of Access & Productivity Tools

These products can be used by libraries as adaptive technologies to provide access, and they also can be used to increase day-to-day productivity of library staff and patrons and everyone!

Apple - General Accessibility Features

Apple Accessibility

Apple includes assistive technology in its products as standard features.  iPhone, iPad, iPod, and OS X include screen magnification and VoiceOver, a screen-access technology, for the blind and visually impaired. To assist those with cognitive and learning disabilities, every Mac includes an alternative, simplified user interface that rewards exploration and learning. And, for those who find it difficult to use a mouse, every Mac computer includes Mouse Keys, Slow Keys, and Sticky Keys, which adapt the computer to the user’s needs and capabilities. Other accessibility features include:

  • Cursor Magnification - magnification makes the cursor easier to see and follow.
  • Picture-in-Picture Zoom - puts the zoomed areas in a separae window while keeping the rest of the screen at its native size.
  • High Contrast and Reverse Video - increase and decrease contrast, remove color, reverse white and black to black and white.
  • Talking Calculator and Talking Clock - set the features to speak totals or all input, set the clock to speak on the hour, half hour, or every fifteen minutes.
  • Custom Keyboard Shortcuts - lets you customize existing shortcuts, create your own, or remove shortcuts you don’t use.
  • Multi-Touch Trackpad Gestures - lets you use gestures on the trackpad to control the computer - pinch, swipe, or rotate gestures, and zoom.
  • Many other features are available depending upon the product and platform.

Text to Speech

Text to Speech software converts text to audio.  The types of text formats that may be converted and the type of audio output depends on the softwared used.  However, the most common types of text that may be converted includes txt, rtf, pdf, doc, and docx, and the most common types of audio output includes mp3, wav, wma, aiff, and au.

Adobe Reader

Almost everyone has used Adobe Reader to share, read, search, verify, or print a document.  But Adobe Reader has the ability to convert text to speech through its Read Out Loud feature.  Read Out Loud can speak the contents of many PDF files and is accessed under the View tab.  The voice that is used is the one available through the computer operating system.  The default voice will be used but may be changed if the computer operating system has additional voices. 

Natural Reader

Natural Reader is a text-to-speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy-to-use software can read to you any text such as Microsoft Word files, webpages, PDF files, and E-mails. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV.

NaturalReader has many other functions, such as audio editor and OCR. With audio editor, you can be your own sound editor by recording, merging and editing audio files. The OCR, optical character recognition, function works with your scanner to convert printed characters into digital text and it is up to 99% accurate.This allows you to listen to your printed file or edit it in a word-processing program. 

  • Helps people with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia
  • Helps people for proofreading
  • Helps people with vision problems or reading load
  • Helps people learning foreign languages


PowerTalk is a plugin automatically speaks any Microsoft Powerpoint presentation or slide show, allowing you to add instant narration to presentations without the need to record speech.  The advantage of PowerTalk is it's ability to speak text as it appears and to speak hidden text attached to images.  The voice used and speed of narration may be changed with the speech setting in the PowerTalk control panel.  PowerTalk uses the synthesized voices available in Windows, however additional SAPI voices may be downloaded and install. 


Much like PowerTalk, WordTalk is a plugin that speaks the text of a document, highlighting the words as it "reads".  For individuals with reading and writing difficulties, having text reinforced by hearing it read aloud is very useful.  WordTalk also contains a talking dictionary to help decide which word is most appropriated.  Highlight colors may be adjusted, voice and speed of speech may be adjusted, and the converted text may be saved as a .wav or .mp3 file.  Other tools include the option to speak by paragraph, sentence, or word; speak a selected section of text; stop speaking; or speak from the cursor.

 Additional software -

Speech to Text

Speech to Text software, also known as voice recognition software, converts speech to text.   Speech to text software makes it easier for anyone to use a computer but is especially useful for individuals with mobility impairments, for paraplegics, and for amputees.  You talk and control the computer - edit documents and emails, launch applications, open files, control your mouse, etc.

 Diction Pro

Diction Pro allows an individual to speak into a microphone and prepare letters, reports, and e-mails.  Diction Pro includes command for formatting, deleting, and copying words and passages.  Like all voice recognition software, Diction Pro requires a good quality headset and an initial software training session to allow Diction Pro to learn and interpret your voice and speech characteristics.

Google Chrome

Google's web browser, Chrome, has a speech to text feature built in that allows you to enter text into text boxes, forms, and search engines.  The feature is also available for iOS (Apple) products.


ZebSpeech that support speech recognition and Text to Speech.  ZebSpeech works as an add-in for Microsoft products.  You can customize the vocabulary and edit the speech recognition properties. 

  Additional software -



  • Allows you to take notes and sync with audio.  By syncronizing notes and audio, AudioNote automatically indexes your meetings, lectures, classes, interviews - you name it.

  • Ginger is an award-winning software that checks grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  It automatically detects and corrects misused words and grammar mistakes.  Any time you are writing for business, sending and important email, or completing school assignments, you can use Ginger's writing tools to improve your vocabulary and prevent errors.

iStudiez Pro
  • iStdiez Pro is the unique application for students which combines tracking schedule, homework, and grades with a delightful user experience.  Syncs data with iOS and Mac OS versions of the app.  Also support Windows 7 - 8.1.

Notes Plus

  • Notes Plus allows you to us less paper, use your handwriting or type text, record audio while taking notes, and imports pdfs.


  • An award-winning digital handwriting app that combines the natural experience of pen and paper with the power of Evernote's sync and search features.  Penultimate is simple and intuitive, make handwritten notes searchable, and is constantly updated.

  • SoundNote tracks what you type and draw while recording audio.  While playing back your recording, just tap a word; SoundNote will jump right to that point in the audio.  When you're done, share your text, drawings, and audio notes via e-mail, or transfer them directly to your Mac or PC.

  • WriteOnline provides struggling writers with support across disciplines.  WriteOnline includes a graphic organizer, speech support, work prediction, and wordbars. 

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