Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology can help students with a variety of needs to enhance their learning potential and ability. It includes computer software and applications as well as practical equipment. Below is helpful information and resources on some that are available. Students may set up an Assistive Technology Consultation with SAS’s AT Specialist to discuss questions.

Software and Applications

The following are recommended by SAS and can be accessed at no cost via the internet. 

Text-to-Speech uses speech synthesis technology to convert onscreen text into words spoken aloud. This is beneficial to a variety of users, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) students, persons with visual disabilities, persons with learning disabilities, and those with time constraints who might want to multitask while listening to papers, articles, books, or web pages being read aloud.   

A few recommended TTS programs available are the following:

  • NaturalReader gives users a choice of several different, more natural sounding voices which can be used on PC, Mac, iOS or Android devices. For information on getting set up with an account, book an Assistive Technology Consultation with SAS’s AT Specialist
  • From Text to Speech - Web based. Converts text to an mp3 file
  • Balabolka - Downloadable software with several customizing features
  • Panopreter - Downloadable software that reads texts as well as converting it to wav and mp3 files
  • Read Aloud - A Google Chrome extension

Speech-to-Text allows users to speak into an external microphone or one built into their devices and have their spoken words converted to text on screen. STT uses speech recognition technology. Speech recognition also allows users to navigate some programs through speech the same way they would by hand.

Many different users can benefit from STT and speech recognition, including those with learning disabilities, physical issues that make writing or using a mouse difficult, and anyone who wants a hands-free way of writing so that they can also complete other tasks. 

Many commonly used computer products and services already have STT/speech recognition functions built into them or offer compatible add-ons for free. See the following examples below: 

Additional programs offer “light” versions for free, as follows: 

  • Otter – Record and import audio for transcription, including live Zoom meetings. 600 minutes free per month with each conversation having a 40-minute duration limit
  • Braina – Users can navigate the functions of their PC as well as the internet via STT through a free “Lite” version

The following is a list of chemistry drawing software tools that students who have difficulty drawing free-handed may find helpful:

  • ChemDraw JS – An online tool designed to help users create and edit chemical structure drawings
  • KingDraw – Features include sketching molecules and reactions, organic chemistry objects and pathways, as well as analyzing compound properties, converting chemical structures to IUPAC names, and viewing 3D models. Downloadable software for Windows PC, Android and iOS
  • MarvinSketch – Draw, edit, publish, and export drawings of chemical compounds, reactions, Markush structures and query molecules. Also features built-in structure and valence checkers, and integrated property calculators  
    • Download the software or use their online version, Marvin JS
  • ChemSketch – A chemical modeling and rendering program with 2D sketch functions as well as a 3D viewer. Compatible with Windows 64 bit only
  • Avogadro – Molecular builder, editor and visualizer designed for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Translations into several different languages offered
  • MolView – A web-based application that searches through Open-Source compound, protein, and spectral databases and displays them as interactive visualizations
  • PubChem Sketcher – An online chemical drawing tool designed for use across as many browsers and platforms as possible. For instructions on how to use, go to their PubChem Sketcher Help page

Alternate Formats

E-books, Audiobooks, and PDFs

Digital alternate formats of texts can assist students with a variety of needs to enhance their learning potential and can be accessed with your chosen electronic device. Below is information and resources on some that are available at no cost. Students may set up an Assistive Technology Consultation with SAS’s AT Specialist to discuss questions. 

E-books (electronic books) have a variety of features including resizable fonts, brightness settings, searchable text, ease of delivery and storage, and interactive elements such as bookmarking, underlining, word definitions and notetaking.

Audio books share many of the same benefits as e-books for the reader, as well as the ability to listen to the text. Titles can be found specifically as audio books, but many e-books will feature a read-aloud function as well.

PDFs (Portable Document Formats) are documents that exist digitally the same as they would on paper. Books available in PDF format can be downloaded and saved to read at any time. They can also be printed out if a hard copy is needed as well. Additionally, when an audio version cannot be located, an accessible PDF copy can be used with Text-to-Speech software. 

The following web sites offer free access to or copies of e-books, audiobooks, and PDFs. Individuals may use these sites to search for specific titles or browse through general categories.

  • Bookboon - Create a free account to access certain textbook titles at no cost. Read online or download a PDF.
  • Free Tech Books - Database of computer science, engineering and programming textbooks and lecture notes available online.
  • National Academies Press - 8,500 titles covering a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and medicine available to download for free in PDF format.
  • NCBI Bookshelf – Online access to biomedical, health and life sciences books and documents, some with PDFs available as well.
  • Online Programming Books – A large selection of e-books on programming, computer science, software engineering, web design, mobile app development, networking, databases, information technology, AI, graphics, and computer hardware.
  • Open Textbook Library - 875 textbooks offered to read online as well as in downloadable PDFs.
  • Springer Link – An extensive library of over 10 million scientific books, journals, and other documents. Books for purchase are listed as well but many are available for free, in both e-book and PDF formats.
  • Textbook Revolution – A searchable database of free textbooks and other educational materials.

  • Barnes & Noble – Download the free NOOK Reading App to access e-book titles on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Digital Book – Audiobooks and e-books of mostly classic literature.
  • Free-Ebooks - With a free standard account, users can download up to five e-books a month in PDF format. Thousands of titles in such categories as textbooks, academic, fiction and nonfiction.
  • Google Books – Google Books provides a variety of different book resources alongside their purchasable options, including where library copies are available to check out and free PDFs of books in the public domain.
  • Internet Archive – A huge resource of over 20 million downloadable books and texts. Create a free account and choose from their collection of 2.3 million e-books which can be borrowed for one hour at a time or 14 days if available. Audio read-along feature included with e-books.
  • King County Library System (KCLS) – All currently enrolled Shoreline Community College students have access to the KCLS online library resources, which include e-books and audiobooks.
  • Learn Out Loud – A collection of thousands of audiobooks to download or stream online.
  • LibriVox – Public domain audiobooks which can be downloaded and listened to on your computer or mobile device.
  • Lit2Go – Audiobooks available online streamed one chapter at a time, along with full printable text. An abstract, citation, playing time and word count is included with each, and many have a related reading strategy as well.
  • Loyal Books – Over 7,000 audiobooks and e-book titles, both available for download, or to stream or read in browser.
  • Open Culture - A collection of multiple types of free media and resources, including audiobooks, e-books, and textbooks, as well as free courses, language lessons, educational videos, art, and music.
  • OverDrive – Free mobile apps which help in borrowing and reading e-books, audiobooks, and magazines from local libraries or schools.
  • Project Gutenberg – A large public domain e-book library available to read in browser or download for e-reader or text files.
  • Thought Audio – Audiobooks with PDF files included, with a focus on classic literature and philosophy titles. The audiobooks can be streamed in browser or downloaded.

Additionally, the Ally tool in Canvas will produce alternative formats when a file is uploaded to the platform. To access PDF, HTML, Electronic Braille, audio, and other available versions, click the triangle at the end of the file name.