Information Services

Assistive Software

Details on how we provide access to assisitive software and what types of software are available.

Types of assistive software

The University provides a selection of assistive software as detailed below. Where possible we aim to mainstream as much assistive software as possible so Mind Genius, Audio Notetaker and TextHelp Read and Write  are available on all open access PC's. 

Dragon Naturally Speaking 

This software requires a headphone and microphone.

It converts your speech to digital text. It also allows the user to control the computer using voice commands. This software is widely used by people who have difficulty using a mouse, keyboard or using other forms of computer input device.

Location: Accessible Study Room 1 and 3 in the Main Library and on a laptop that can be borrowed from the Disability and Learning Support Service with prior agreement.

Mind Mapping Software - MindGenius 

Many people find it easier to construct plans and visualise work to be done by creating structured visual images, or 'mind maps'.

In this manner it is easy to create as many different topics as you need, move them around, make links between them and set up sub-headings and attach notes.

Then you can convert your mindmap to a Word or PowerPoint document, with headings and bullet points.

Mind mapping can be helpful for in planning study or essay writing. People with dyslexia and some other forms of special needs may find mind mapping particularly helpful for getting an overview of a subject and making connections between topics which they would struggle to visualise from text and bullet points.

MindGenius has support for task and team project planning.

Location: Available on all open access PCs and it can be provided for a managed desktop on request. "Free" take home licenses for MindGenius are now available under our latest deal for current staff and students at the university.

If you wish to apply to download MindGenius onto your own device you need to complete a request form 

MindGenius request form

Please visit the website below for more information on MindGenius:

University of Edinburgh MindGenius information  


Convert paper documents to electronic formats for editing using optical character recognition processing.

It is especially useful for people with a visual impairment who can then use something like ZoomText or Texthelp Read & Write to read the text aloud.

This can be particularly useful for reading lists where the originator of a document cannot make an alternative format available, but care must be taken to comply with relevant legislation such as copyright law.

Location: Available on all Accessible PCs.

Texthelp, Read & Write

This software can read aloud, magnify, highlight and colour overlay text.

It supports spelling and grammar checking, and it will suggest word completion.

You can scan in images of documents and convert them to a readable digital format. Electronic documents such as Adobe Acrobat PDF formats can also be converted.

This is helpful for people with reading difficulties (such as dyslexia), typing difficulties or a physical impairment which makes it easier to listen to text than read it onscreen.

It can also increase reading speed and improve concentration and productivity for many users.

Location: This software is available on all public access PCs and can also be downloaded for free from the Applications Catalog to a managed desktop.

OpenDyslexic Font

The University has installed Open Dyslexic Font version 3 on all University computers for students.  OpenDyslexic is a range of fonts which can help improve readability for readers with dyslexia. Regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles are all available within the fonts.

To access this:

  • Open the application you require (Word, PowerPoint etc) and go to the font menu
  • Scroll down the font menu till you see OpenDyselxic and select one of the three OpenDyselxic fonts
  • The three names of the font are OpenDyselxic, OpenDyselxicAlta and OpenDyslexicMono
  • The font will now be selected to use in the application you have open.


Allows users to magnify digital text and change contrast (such as black on white instead of white on black).

It is especially helpful for people with a visual impairment and for materials which cannot easily be converted to audio, such as charts and diagrams.

Location: Available on all Accessible PCs.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe design and multimedia creativity applications, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and many more. Photoshop can be used to edit documents and make them more readable.

Location: Available on all Accessible PCs.


JAWS is a software package that converts text to speech making it useful for blind and visually impaired users.

Location: JAWS can be found in accessible study room 1 in the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library, King's Buildings, and in accessible study rooms 1 and 2 in the Main Library, George Square.

Audio Notetaker

Audio Notetaker is software which makes writing notes from audio easier. The audio can be aligned with images or PowerPoint slides. The use of keyboard shortcuts makes it easy to start and stop the audio while typing and a feature called “Pause mode” combined with variable speed enables the user to transcribe every word. It is also possible to import audio from videos. The software also includes a short video on how to use it and a tutorial file. If they are not visible when you open the program then you can find them in the Help menu if you click the drop-down arrow in the top left-hand corner. Please note that the keyboard shortcut to start and stop play has been changed on the University network and is Ctrl + Shift + Space. Hovering the mouse over the toolbar buttons will display these shortcuts if you forget them."

Location: All open access computers.

Some useful resources on ways of using the software can be found on the Sonocent website. The following page is particularly useful:

External assistance with Audio Notetaker

Adobe Digital Editions

Adobe Digital Editions is a free eBook Reader which can be used to download digital content, making it available to read both online and offline.

Location: Available on all the Accessible PCs.

Request an alternative format

To request this document in an alternative format, such as large print or on coloured paper, please contact Viki Galt, the Head of Disability Information.

Viki Galt

Head of Disability Information

  • Information Services

Contact details



Argyle House
Floor F West
3 Lady Lawson Street

Post Code

BSL users can contact me via Contact Scotland BSL, the on-line British Sign Language interpreting service. Find out more on the Contact Scotland BSL website.

Contact Scotland BSL website