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Inclusive technology

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Published: 7 July 2020

Students with various technology including smartphones and laptops

Technology can get rid of barriers to learning, whether that’s a disability, lack of confidence, using technology in English when it’s not your first language or anything else. As soon as we return to campus, you’ll be able to get face-to-face help, advice and support from Health and Wellbeing, Student Administration, Engagement, and the Gateway. But while classes are still run online, digital technology will be the main way you can engage with your lecturers and classmates. Health and Wellbeing Manager Alisa Tsykhotsky talks you through some of the tools you can use to help you succeed at university.

We’re committed to doing whatever we can to bring down the level of inequality created by the ‘digital divide’ - the gap between people with access and understanding of technology and those without. Below you can find a huge list of some of the best tools for helping you use the technology you need for your degree.

Free inclusive technology

Windows

Don’t underestimate the accessibility features on Windows products (like your PC and many laptops for example).

If you have Window 10 on your computer, search ‘Ease of access’. You’ll find a few great features:

  • Windows magnifier: You can move this magnifying glass around the screen, lock it in place or change its size. You can make things up to 1,600% bigger, but watch out! The closer you zoom in the blurrier the object will be. Windows magnifier also lets you flip the colours on the screen for higher contrast.
  • Narrator: Will read out all the text on the screen out loud for you, a big help if you have sight difficulties.
  • High contrast settings: Brings text out more clearly, which is useful if you’re colour blind.
  • Speech recognition: Lets you give instructions to your computer. Take the tutorial to start using it.
  • Mouse and cursor options: You can change the size and colour of your mouse, or move it around using the keyboard.

Microsoft

Tools like Word and PowerPoint have extra features that can support you. 

Right-click on the bar at the top of any Microsoft programme and go to ‘Customise Quick Access Toolbar’ to find the following:

  • Document map: Creates a list of headings and subheadings to give you an outline of what’s in the document.
  • Font and page colour: These two options let you change the colours in the document to suit you.
  • Text highlight colour: You can use this to highlight parts of the text in a range of colours.
  • Speak selected text: Highlight parts of the text and this programme reads them out loud.
  • Translate: This will translate any text you highlight into a wide number of other languages.

Apps and other resources

There are a huge number of tools available for students with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive disabilities. You can find a lot of them at My Study My Way.

  • Diversity and Ability work to support institutions like the University of Sunderland in London with inclusion. You can find resources on their website.  
  • Xmind and Freeplane offer software that helps students to mindmap - a useful tool for planning essay and presentation or preparing for exams. You can find more free mind mapping software at Predictive Analytics Today.
  • If you’re preparing a workshop, webinar or presentation, subtitles are a really important way of making sure you stay inclusive. Try the Google Live Captions app for help.
  • PowerPoint Live Presentations lets you translate the speaker online into your own language. There are loads of other features to explore at well.
  • Open Dyslexic is a free font designed to be easier to read for people with dyslexia.
  • Mendeley helps you reference by recording the data from the journals and books you read. You can sort the information into libraries and add notes. It also puts in-text citations into your assignments and automatically creates a reference list for you.

The Health and Wellbeing team are always here to give you whatever support you need. If you have any questions about the information in this article, or about any other wellbeing issue, book a one-to-one chat with them at londonhealth@sunderland.ac.uk or by calling on 0207 531 7343.

Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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