Skip to main content
IT Service Status
IT Service Status

Assistive Technology Software for All Students at No Cost

Northwestern IT and AccessibleNU are partnering to raise awareness of the availability of these assistive tools.”

James Stachowiak
Accessible Technology Strategy and Operations Lead, Northwestern IT

Northwestern IT partners with several campus groups, including the Office of Equity, the Office of Human Resources, and AccessibleNU, to facilitate assistive technology software and services for all students.

Northwestern offers all students free, assistive software that helps find, collect, and cite sources for research papers. Need assistance proofreading? Assistive software also supports each stage of the writing process, including finding spelling errors. There is even text-to-speech software that allows users to listen to digital versions of assigned reading and learn while getting steps in on a stroll across our beautiful campuses.

"Northwestern IT and AccessibleNU are partnering to raise awareness of the availability of these assistive tools," said James Stachowiak, accessible technology strategy and operations lead, Northwestern IT. "While it's true that text reading and annotation software, such as Read&Write, provides critical access for many, all students can benefit from the visual, auditory, and information-gathering features of assistive software. I encourage more students to take advantage of these types of tools to enhance their learning experiences."

Assistive Technology Software

The University has purchased site licenses for the following software readily available to all students at no cost. These include:

  • Read&Write is a robust set of study tools for students to have digital text (Word, HTML, PDF, ePUB) read aloud while offering various annotation supports to improve the learning experience across platforms. It includes OrbitNote, which assists in reading text-based PDFs.
  • Snap&Read provides the ability to select text to be read aloud on websites and PDFs, highlight and annotate PDFs, remove distractions from web pages, and adjust text readability by replacing difficult words with ones that may be easier to understand.
  • SensusAccess is an online document conversion system that converts texts and image-based files into different outputs, including MP3 audio, Braille, or e-text format, offering flexibility to how students interact with text.

What Students are Saying

Students across the University are putting these tools to use, especially Read&Write.

“Read&Write has made my homework process a dream. I can comprehend and review assignments more thoroughly, and my homework time is cut in half because it is in an accessible format.” - Graduate Student, School of Communication

“Read&Write gives me the ability to complete my assignments and not lose points because of spelling or grammar errors I don't see when proofreading it myself.” – Graduate Student, Feinberg School of Medicine

“Using Read&Write and OrbitNote creates space for efficiency in learning and has improved my ability to master more concepts simultaneously. I am no longer racing with time to meet deadlines. Instead, I am learning and finding inspiration through challenging growth as a student at Northwestern.” - Undergraduate Student, Weinberg College

Learn More About Assistive Software

Northwestern students can learn more about these software offerings, watch tutorial videos, and find download instructions by visiting AccessibleNU's Assistive Technology web page. Consultation is also available. To schedule an appointment, please email James Stachowiak.