Technology for College Students

Supporting students’ use of and access to technology in inclusive higher education (IHE) programs can seem like a challenging task, especially since technology is changing all the time! What works perfectly for one student may not be the right fit for another. It can be overwhelming to assess and evaluate the 290+ million resources from a Google search on “technology supports for students with disabilities,” let alone take the time to learn how to use and implement those technologies. However, after working with many students and professionals in college and high school, we can give advice on the best ways to discover some of the most popular and tested technology for your students with ID. Our team has learned about and pulled together some great technology resources and supportive approaches to assist IHE programs in discovering technology solutions for students.

News & Features

Lori Cooney
Lori provides technical assistance and training workshops to universities on inclusive instructional and technology practices for transition & inclusion. ...Read more
The Technology & UDL Affinity Group is designed for people who are interested in using technology and universal design for learning to support students of all abilities in higher education sett ...Read more
The transition from high school to college can be a challenging time for all students, especially for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As students prepare for this transition, it’s important they become familiar with the technology that can help with executive function skills (or important skills for college) such as organizing, planning, note-taking, communication, scheduling, collaboration, self-regulation, and self-monitoring. ...Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I help a student turn on and customize text-to-speech (TTS) on their device?

Depending on the device, text-to-speech settings are built into most operating systems and can be activated and customized in accessibility settings. Customizing TTS can make it much more desirable for students. You can help them select different voices, accents, speed, and pitch. Here are some links to step-by-step instructions on turning on TTS for different devices:

iPhone/iPad
Turn on text-to-speech, also known as “spoken content”

Android
Text-to-speech output

Macbook/iMac
Turn on & use text-to-speech
Change voices

Chromebook
Hear text read aloud

Windows
Hear text read aloud

What read-aloud programs and apps do you recommend?

In addition to using built-in speech-to-text technology, students can install read-aloud programs and apps that work across multiple devices. We recommend the following:

Speechify - Speechify is a text-to-speech software program that can be added to any device (e.g., iOS, Android, Mac, PC, Chrome). Individuals can listen to messages (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, WhatsApp), documents (e.g., Google Docs, PDF, Microsoft), articles (e.g., NY Times, BBC, Medium, Wikipedia), and social platforms (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit) at their own speed and choice of human-sounding voices.

Otter.ai - Otter.ai is a free (600 minutes per month) and paid for web-based program that automatically translates speech to text from a live or recorded session. Once translated, an individual can “search, play, edit, organize, and share conversations from any device.”

Voice Dream Reader - Voice Dream Reader is a paid-for app that is specifically designed for iOS. This app has the power to read anything by listening with a choice of 200+ voices in 30 languages. It won the 2021 Apple Design Award and we feel it is worth the $19.99 cost to own.

Where can I get electronic copies of textbooks for my students?

The # 1 source to get electronic copies of textbooks is through Bookshare, a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Education OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs) initiative. Bookshare® is free and available to “individuals with a qualifying reading or perceptual disability, a visual impairment, or a physical disability that affects their ability to read printed works.” We recommend you work with your disability office to coordinate electronic textbooks for students with the book publisher.

What are some suggestions for helping students stay organized?

  • Create a list of web resources by topic using Wakelet. Students can create private and public collections of online resources and categorize each collection by the desired topic. Wakelet is fully accessible and has a built-in immersive reader for read-aloud experiences There is a myriad of ways Wakelet is being used in education and we recommend you take a look at their blog for inspiration. We suggest instructors and support staff create a board on Wakelet to share resources for students as they navigate their way in inclusive higher education programs.

 

  • Keep track of assignments using the built-in calendar on their computer or mobile device. Some suggestions are to:

    • Create recurring events and make sure to include a start and end date and create alerts that remind the student about the event. This can be anything from the time of the event, 15 minutes before the event, or even a day or week before the event. 

    • Color-coding activities in the calendar such as classes or meetings can be especially helpful to students.

  • Use a task management app to create lists of tasks with due dates and checklists. Students can create lists that include tasks (e.g., math homework, daily checklist, movies to watch) with due dates, alerts and reminders. Tasks can be checked off when complete to keep track of progress.

    • Some recommended apps are:

      1. Any.do - Any.do is an easy-to-use simple app that can be accessed across all devices and can be synchronized with Google calendar.

      2. Microsoft Todo - A task management app that is cross-platform and easily integrated with Outlook. 

      3.  Todoist - This app is easy to use and has powerful features such as creating a task from an email, calendar integration, and sharing capabilities. There are a lot of readily available templates for users to use such as the student planning template that has a list of tasks that can be customized. 

What communication tools do you recommend students use?