TechDis: Assistive Technology

JISC TechDis have long argued that the key to enhancing access to the curriculum is the effective use of technology. By their very nature, resources in digital format can be accessed more independently and personalised more easily.

Terry McAndrew and Simon Ball (TechDis) presented a seminar at Kellogg College on 15 June 2012 and spoke what has happened in the field of ‘assistive technology’ in HE and FE in the past five years, and where it might be expected to go in the next five.

The TechDis site has a link to a useful guide on JIST TechDis resources: (, which include:

  • Accessibility Essentials – everyday hints for everybody, e.g. how to make accessible PDFs.
  • Online Accessibility Self-Evaluation Service (OASES) – a video and a short survey (20 questions) on how your unit rates nationally in terms of accessibility and inclusivity.
  • 12 Steps to inclusive use of technology – for senior managers, IT staff, learning technologists and accessibility specialists
  • Accessible Publishing – including e-book standards and platforms, and a Publisher Lookup database of publishers who provide materials in alternative formats.
  • TechDis Jack and TechDis Jess – synthetic English voices that read materials aloud (for anyone – on the bus, on the train) – way better than default synthetic voices. These voices can easily be installed on one’s desktop or laptop.
  • Tool Box – digital literacy resource tips and tricks for students to share with each other (e.g. how to find images on Google images).
  • InFolio – a simple portfolio tool to collect and present evidence of learning on the web.
  • SimDis – a simulator to see how materials appear to people suffering from a disability (such as dyslexia, hearing and visual impairment).

Author: Jill Fresen

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