Assistive Technologies at ECU


Jaws is a computer screenreading program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable braille display. The software is both robust and sophisticated. The software reads from the computer and provides commands to navigate multiple sections, windows, dialog boxes, controls, and operates effectively on the internet.


MagUSB is screen magnifier and one of the only screen magnifiers that does not require administrator privileges to install the software and offers a handy USB. This allows ECU students to use this assistive technology on any PC computer.

OpenBook 8.0

OpenBook is a PC software that allows a student who is blind or visually impaired student the ability to use scanning technology to read out loud printed items. The software provides a complete reading system for both print and digital materials.  The software comes with quality voices for student’s listening pleasure.

Duxbury Braille Translator 11.1

Translation software for print to Braille output. Software allows for creation of literary and technical Braille and is frequently used in conjunction with a Braille embosser which prints Braille documents.

Read &Write Gold 11 (PC) and 6 (Mac)

(available from

The Read&Write family of literacy software makes the web, documents and files more accessible – any time, any place, and on any platform or device. It’s great for people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties, or anyone whose first language isn’t English. From reading on-screen text aloud to researching and checking written work, Read&Write makes lots of everyday tasks easier.

Livescribe pens

A Livescribe smartpen is about the size and weight of a large pen (5/8″ x 6 1/8″), and is equipped with a removable ball-point ink cartridge, a microphone to record audio, a speaker for playback, a small display, an infra-red camera, and internal flash memory that captures handwritten notes, audio and drawings. The user can choose to record audio in addition to the handwritten text. Recorded audio is kept indexed with the handwritten text—tapping on a written word starts playback of the recorded audio from that part of the recording.

Assisted listening devices

Assistive Listening Systems (ALSs) are sometimes called Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs). Essentially they are amplifiers that bring sound directly into the ear. They separate the sounds, particularly speech, that a person wants to hear from background noise. They improve what is known as the “speech to noise ratio.” Research indicates that people who are hard of hearing require a volume (signal to noise ratio) increase of about 15 to 25 dB in order to achieve the same level of understanding as people with normal hearing. An ALS allows them to achieve this gain for themselves without making it too loud for everyone else.

Dragon Naturally Speaking v12 and v13

Dragon dictation software allows one to convert human speech into text accurately. The software works with email packages, Word, and other applications. Excellent for dictating documents and electronic communications. Students use this for writing papers, doing research and controlling their computers.

VNC remote desktop software

VNC is a free remote desktop application and not specifically an assistive technology by design. We use it on PCs in the “Smart” enabled classrooms so students with visual impairments can view the instructor’s PC from their own laptops instead of straining to view a projection screen. This allows them to use their own assistive software to zoom or change the screen colors.

CCTV magnifier

A CCTV is an electronic magnification system that enables visually impaired students to read a variety of materials and writing. A CCTV uses a stand-mounted or hand-held video camera to project a magnified image of any printed matter onto a dedicated video monitor or a television screen.