What is 'Assistive Technology'?

Assistive technology is the umbrella term for any tool or software that supports you to complete tasks or activities that are important to you. Assistive technology includes tools that remove accessibility barriers or that change the way a person may interact with a computer.

Assistive technology is for everyone and can assist you in your studies by removing the barriers you may face in different aspects of university life. For example, you may choose to experiment with a dictation tool to write your essays or a text-to-speech tool that can read long research papers aloud.

If you’re interested in learning more about how assistive technology can be helpful at university, have a listen to the Disabled in HE: Assistive Technology Podcast.

There are many different types of helpful assistive technology that you might want to try throughout your studies. We have compiled a range of open-source, free and low-cost tools and apps for you to explore.

For more information on other assistive technology programs that are available at Arden please get in touch with the Inclusion Services Team.

Organisation and Time-Management

Post-it App

The Post-it app is a great tool for students who love to use physical Post-it notes to remember key events, deadlines and helpful links. Physical Post-it notes are a great strategy but we can’t always carry them everywhere. The Post-it note app allows you to capture up to 200 physical sticky notes and organise them in the digital space on your phone or tablet. You can combine and group different notes as well as organise your thoughts on boards by adding digital notes. You can then export these Post-it notes as a text file, PowerPoint or PDF.

Strict Workflow

 Do you find it difficult to keep focused on that essay you’ve been meaning to write the last week? Does scrolling through social media and other websites seem more appealing? Strict Workflow may be the tool for you. Strict Workflow increases concentration by temporarily blocking access to social media and other time wasting webpages. The tool is a web extension that runs in the background and blocks your chosen list of “blacklisted” websites for 25 minutes to enable you to work without distraction. After 25 minutes are up the tool allows you a five-minute break.

Writing and Maths Notation


Grammarly is a widely used freemium proofreading tool. It provides contextual grammar and spell checking and helps to correct any mistakes while also helping you to understand and improve your grammar. Every correction comes with a short one-line explanation to give you more detail and to show different examples. You can use Grammarly in the background, embed it into your Chrome browser or Microsoft office. It works on almost all online platforms.

 Are you interested in trying dictation to write your essays, revision notes or emails? is a simple website that quickly transcribes your speech in real-time. You can add punctuation, paragraphs and emojis using your voice. There are other dictation tools built into Microsoft Word or your laptop or computer that are also worth trying.


Photomath is a great app that you can use to scan a maths problem and to see the outcome and solving methods displayed in easy, definable steps. Outlining the steps can help you to become familiar with how to solve a variety of different mathematical equations.



ATbar is a free web extension and desktop app that enables you to change the colour, font, look and feel of website documents. You can also use it to add a coloured overlay to a website and to listen to the page aloud.

Microsoft Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader is built into Microsoft Word, Onenote and Outlook. Immersive Reader enables you to read documents, emails or your notes back in a choice of voices and speeds. You can also change the size, spacing, font and background colour of the document without changing the printing style. There is a built-in focus mode that can act as a reading ruler and can help you keep track of where you are when reading.

You can find the tool in the “view” ribbon of Microsoft Word.


ColorVeil lets you add a colour filter of your own choice over your screen to help decrease visual eyestrain and to improve readability. You can use it across any webpage or application on your computer and can customise the filtering and colour at any time.



Are you looking for an all in one notetaking, storage space and workspace? Notion might be little for you. Notion is an all in one workspace that allows you to set up different pages for all parts of life. You could use it to plan and track deadlines, take notes, plan your next social event, collaborate with others for organising general life.

You can use it as a webpage, desktop or mobile app which means whatever device you have with you you can access your notebook. There’s also a Google Chrome add-in that can be used to save websites that you need to go back and read later. Notion offers a free student package.


Onenote is an online digital notebook. You can use this to take notes, save research, add audio files or other multimedia. You can also use Onenote to set reminders, collaborate with others and also for converting written text into typed text. Onenote is available on all university computers and is part of your Microsoft office subscription. You can use it across all your different devices and all your notebooks are automatically backed up to Onedrive so you never lose a thing.


Notability allows you to take notes while recording audio on your MacBook, iPhone or iPad. It’s a great way to combine digital PDFs or lecture slides with hand-drawn annotations and written text that allow you to make rich and engaging notes to return to you later. What’s more, you can select any written text and listen to the audio that was being recorded at the time.

Research and Referencing


Mendeley is a robust reference management software vital for mastering academic referencing. Referencing is crucial in academic writing, and Mendeley equips you for this task.

Mendeley streamlines the process, enabling you to effortlessly organise and generate citations and bibliographies. Its excellent PDF annotation and highlighting features make it ideal for research-intensive work. It excels in collaboration, facilitating shared document work with peers. Accessible on desktop and as a browser extension, Mendeley simplifies capturing information via ISBNs, DOIs, or its web importer tool. It includes a Microsoft Word add-in for seamless referencing within essays.

If you need support with Mendeley, you can also contact our Study Skills team


Referencing can be a tricky skill to master but it is needed for every piece of academic writing. When you reference your work you can evidence that you have conducted an appropriate literature search and that your points are justified and well supported. Zotero is a reference management software that helps you to record the details of any information that you find to enable you to quickly generate lists of citations and bibliographies.

Zotero is free, easy-to-use and can be downloaded onto your desktop as well as added into your browser. You can then quickly capture all the information you need to create good references using the ISBN of the book, the DOI number of a research paper or simply by clicking on the Zotero capture tool in your browser. You can even download the Microsoft Word add-in that enables you to quickly reference directly within your essay.


Weava is a simple highlighting tool made for websites and PDFs. Have you ever read a research paper that is over 30 pages long to the only need to quote 5 words? If yes, Weava is for you. You can highlight your key quotes within a PDF or on a website and then save and organise these quickly into folders and subfolders. There are several different colours available and you can add notes to any of your highlights to remind yourself why the quote may be useful. Weava then allows you to automatically create citations so that you can reference each quote in your essay.



CRAM is another flashcard creation tool that you can use to quickly add your revision content to. There are nearly 200 million flashcards that have been created by other students that are available for you to use or copy to create your flashcard set. The great thing about CRAM is that you can have your cards read back to you and you can also add images to enhance your learning.


Quizlet is a free learning and revision flashcard tool. You can quickly generate flashcard decks from your study material or other users flashcards. Quizlet is a great way to test your learning, track your progress will generate quizzes to vary your revision style. You can download it as an app or use it through the website.

Focus and Procrastination

Forest App

Do you find yourself frequently procrastinating and scrolling through your phone? Then forest might be the app for you. Forest is a procrastination tool that helps you to stay away from your phones by blocking you from accessing your favourite apps. Forest uses the Pomodoro technique of dividing work up into 25-minute blocks of study followed by five minutes of break. During your 25 minutes, a tree will begin to grow, but if you leave the app, the tree will die. The idea is to grow a whole virtual forest while Forest is also planting trees in real life.


MyNoise is a simple website that simulates a wide range of sounds such as rain, a busy coffee shop, a waterfall or even an exam room. Using alternative sounds to help block out other noises that might be distracting can be helpful to increase your focus. Some sounds are designed to promote relaxation, meditation and positive thinking.

Wellbeing at University

Catch It

Catch It uses the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) model to support you to turn negative thoughts into positive ones by enabling you to record and rate your mood and to reflect and think about better ways to deal with any problems that may occur. It’s an NHS approved app that can also help with feelings related to anxiety or depression.


Mindshift is a tool that is designed to offer simple, practical support with feelings of anxiety. Mindshift encourages you to face opportunities constructively rather than suggesting that you avoid situations that create anxiety. It provides a range of different anxiety management strategies, is compatible with dictation and is also very customisable.

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