Assistive Technology: how can it help your studies?

If you’ve never heard of Assistive Technology (AT) and wonder what it is and how it can help your studies then you’ve come to the right place. Assistive Technology software, for example, mind mapping and text-to-speech software, can help you to develop skills and strategies for studying. Whilst it is particularly helpful for those who have a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) such as Dyslexia, they are really useful tools for anyone to use. Even better it’s available at the university for all students and staff and much of it can be used off campus too.

Title: A logo for Read and Write - Description: A logo for Read and Write

Read and Write Gold – is text-to-speech software that is a useful proofreading tool as we can hear the errors in our writing more effectively than by sight alone. This software can also be useful for a blended reading approach enabling you to access content in different ways. Read and Write also has useful study tools such a spellchecker, with a phonetic base, screen tinting and a homophone checker to recognise similar sounding words. 

TIP: Read and Write is providing a temporary license which is available to all Edge Hill students and staff whilst social distancing measures remain in place.

Get in touch with the Catalyst Helpdesk virtually via email or live chat and they will be able to provide an instructional video and product key so you can download the software at home.

Title: Claro Icon - Description: Claro Icon

ClaroRead – is another text-to-speech software that is useful when proofreading your assignments and can be helpful when taking a blended approach to reading. ClaroRead has lots of useful study skills tools such as screen rulers, tinting and phonetic spellcheckers. ClaroRead anywhere is available to students and staff on our Assistive Technology webpages.

Title: A logo for Inspiration - Description: A logo for Inspiration

Inspiration 9 – is mind mapping software that can assist you when planning your essay writing and offers a visual way of organising ideas on to a mind map. This approach can be helpful in processing information and you can arrange your content in different ways to support your understanding. You can add images, text and web links to your mind map in order to capture all your great planning in one place. Students and staff can download a copy of the software on their own device using the link on our Assistive Technology webpages.

If you would like any further information around these technologies, please feel free to contact the team on [email protected]

Online Assignment Submission: Final checks ✔

This week the Learning Technology Development team posted its annual ‘Keep Calm and Submit’ post on the Learning Edge blog, highlighting the latest tips and good practices to ensure your online submissions over the next week go as smoothly as you could possibly wish for.

As an additional treat for all students we’ve also put together 4 simple steps to help with some of the pre submission checks you might not have thought about before clicking the submit button.

Step 1 – Did you rememeber to add your frontsheet or SpLD coversheet?

If you are required to submit your assignment with a specific frontsheet/coversheet for academic or SpLD needs, please ensure you have added this before submitting. General frontsheets are usually supplied within your module/programme area on Blackboard. Please contact your tutor if you are unsure of its location online.

If you have a SpLD coversheet, this would have been compiled and provided by the SpLD Support Team prior to any online submission. If you are unsure or need further support with the SpLD cover sheet you have been provided with, please contact the SpLD Support Team:

  • In Person: Ask desk, 1st floor, University Library
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 01695 584372

Step 2 – Is your file the correct type?

Any assignment submission through Blackboard accepts a wide range of file types for both Turnitin and the standard Assignment tool. You can find details of the accepted file types for each submission tool in the links provided below:

If you submit any other file types (or files with the incorrect file extension) you will receive an error message and will need to re-save your assignment in one of the permitted formats and begin the submission process again.

Step 3 – Is your browser up to date?

Another top tip is to always ensure that your browser is up-to-date. We recommend Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome upgraded to the latest version gives the best experience. If your laptop or PC uses Windows 10 as its operating system, be aware that the default browser may be set to ‘Microsoft Edge’  – perhaps OK for general surfing on the net – but when it comes to activities such as assignment submission please avoid using this browser. So, please if you havent already – download and install Firefox or Chrome and use one of these browsers when submitting your assignment(s) online.

Step 4 – Do you have a good internet connection?

Before uploading your work, you will need to have a good internet connection within a location that doesn’t have any security barriers such as ‘pop up blocker’ for your browser or a security firewall that’ll prevent you from uploading any data to the internet.

Pretty much all standard home Broadband connections are fine, but if you don’t have internet access at home please be mindful of submitting your work from a location such as a school or NHS Trust (placement setting) as you might run into problems due to security settings.

We know that when that deadline is approaching it’ll be stressful enough without unexpected niggles, so try not to leave your submission till the last minute. This echoes all points above but if done correctly will ensure the final moments before you click ‘Submit’ will be as stress-less as possible. Remember, if you have any problems Keep Calm and Ask Us!

Good luck with your assignments!


Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

Assistive Technology

Do you know?

 Inspiration mind mapping and Read & Write Gold assistive technology is networked to support assignment writing

Pick up an instruction leaflet from the ASK desk

(1st floor of the library)


This is a visual tool for planning and developing ideas through the creation of concept maps. The map is easy to construct; information can be added by clicking on relevant branches and use of colour makes a distinction between different areas/topics.  In addition: notes, pictures, diagrams and links to internet resources can be built-in.  Once the map is complete it can be put into linear form in preparation for structuring the assignment.

It can be accessed by clicking on the start button and typing the word ‘Inspiration’ into the search box.







Read & Write

This is software that reads text and assists when constructing or proof reading written work.  It can read from most documents (Word, PDF, web pages), alternatively resources can be scanned in.  There are features that help with spelling, grammar and study skills; also, predictive text or voice activation can be used.  There are instruction video clips for each feature.

It can be accessed by clicking on the start button and typing the word ‘Read & Write’ into the search box.


Skype support for students identified with SpLD (Dyslexia/Dyspraxia)

There is an exciting development planned to improve our services in terms of support for students with SpLD.

The SpLD team attended Skype training on 14 November 2013 to consider how it could be used when supporting students with SpLD (Dyslexia/Dyspraxia).  The day was very informative and we were able to talk with students who already access support this way.  We have been aware for sometime that students who are living or working (or both) at a distance from Edge Hill find it difficult to access the specialist support.

The team think that Skype is a great idea for students on placement or distance learners who can’t get in to the main campus for their support.  The plan is to run a pilot scheme in the New Year with a view of providing support via Skype in the future.

As a service development idea, we are keen to hear your feedback as it is very important that students are involved as we consider making changes to our service.  We would love to hear from you if you do feel you could benefit from using Skype for your one to one SpLD support or if you have any reservations and would like to discuss it with us.  Please get in touch by emailing [email protected]