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August 24, 2013

Free Assistive Technology Resources

by Elaine Cook

Okay, if you are a teacher, you love to hear the word “FREE!”  NCLDLogo

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has compiled a list of 13 free assistive technology resources to help both teachers and students have a smoother transition to their new school year.

NCLD notes that a limited budget doesn’t have to stop you or your child from getting some of the best assistive technology available to help people with LD. These free resources will help you stretch your dollar while getting geared up for the new school year. Better yet, some of them may already be in your pocket—NCLD has included features built into common devices like the iPhone and iPad that can be helpful for people who struggle with reading, math, organization and more.  Check out the National Center for Learning Disabilities for more great resources.




An accessible online library for people with print-based disabilities. Bookshare offers over 204,000 digital books, all available free for K-12, college, and adult education students in the United States (must submit proof of disability to Bookshare).

Dictation for iOS

Got an iPhone 4S or 5 or an iPad 3 in your backpack? Dictation, a feature that allows you to speak instead of typing, is built right in.

Dragon Dictation

A speech-to-text app that allows you to speak and instantly see your email and text messages. Available for free download from the iTunes store for iPad and iPhone devices.

Firefox with Add-Ons

If you use the web browser Firefox (a free download) you’ll want to check out this set of add-ons that offer features like text-to-speech, dictionaries and more to make your internet browsing easier.


A free email account that comes with a text-to-speech reader, spell check, built-in organization systems and more. A Gmail account also comes with Google Calendar, which allows you to keep track of multiple responsibilities and plan a schedule.

Google Calendar Reminders App

If organization and scheduling is difficult for you, this is a must-have app. It syncs all of your day’s tasks and to-dos and can send reminders to your phone or tablet. It’s available free for iOS and Android devices.

Google Drive

Need to easily share and collaborate on documents with a teacher, tutor or classmate? Google Drive lets you create documents, spreadsheets and slideshows and share them with others…all for free.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress provides a free library of audio materials for circulation to eligible borrowers with reading disabilities.


LibriVox is a volunteer-run organization that provides audiobooks of works in the public domain, including works like religious texts and classic literature.

Project Gutenberg

Got some Charles Dickens or Mark Twain on your reading list this year? Project Gutenberg provides free ebooks (in multiple formats) of non-copyrighted works, including many classic and historical texts.


If you have an iPhone 4S or above, you have one of today’s best AT tools right in your pocket. Siri is a “personal assistant” that is more than just dictation: It lets you use your voice to ask your phone questions or give commands. You can use it to make calls and set reminders.


Like the sound of Siri, but use an Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Mobile device? Vlingo is a virtual assistant that uses speech-to-text technology to help you send messages and find information, and is available free on all major smartphone and tablet platforms.


A free plugin for Microsoft Word (available only for Windows users) that will speak the text of any Word document and highlight as it goes.

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