Anne Carpenter seen through windowThe Disability Resource Center works to provide up-to-date technologies to assist students with disabilities meet their academic goals. Our educational environment is increasingly becoming dependent on the use of technologies in and out of the classroom. To address this, there is a set of commonly used technologies that are supported by the DRC in collaboration with Computing Services. Many assistive and adaptive technologies are already available throughout campus, in classrooms and computer labs. We continually research, test and implement new technologies to meet the needs of individuals and the campus at large. If you are interested in learning more about accessible information technology or have specialized requests for technology, please contact the DRC office.

Commonly Used Technologies

Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.0

Industry standard document reader and creator

Alternative Input Equipment

Ergonomic keyboards, touch pad and track ball pointing devices, etc.

Braille Embosser

Printer-like device used for creating Braille

CCTV and Jordy

Print magnification systems

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Voice activated computer software


Screen reading software for visually impaired users

Kurzweil 3000

A powerful learning software solution that combines scanning, text-to-speech, reading and writing utilities.

Pictures in a Flash

Provides tactile representation of graphic material

Quick Pad

Portable word processors for note-taking

Text Aloud

Basic Windows electronic text reading software with natural sounding voices.


Screen magnification and text-to-speech reading software

Alternative Media and Technology

What is Alternative Media?

Alternative Media is any type of content delivered in a format that is usable by persons with disabilities and compatible with assistive technologies. Some examples of alternative media are audio or electronic classroom print materials, video and multimedia with captions, audio and electronic descriptions of visual information, tactile graphics, Braille, accessible web resources, etc. Conversion of print materials into electronic format is the most commonly used media service provided by the DRC.

Who Uses Alternative Media?

In short, everyone uses and benefits from accessible media. Well-designed, multimodal and flexible media content benefits all people. In the domain of disability, accessibility describes to what degree a product, service or environment can be accessed by people with disabilities. Accessible Media in the context of education is any classroom or course content that can be used by persons with disabilities and is compatible with assistive technologies. Generally speaking users of accessible media have print access disabilities.

What is a Print Access Disability?

Print access disability refers to a classification of disabilities that functionally limit an individuals ability to fully benefit from or access visual (print or on-screen) content. Common disabilities that fall within this group are visual impairments, specific learning disabilities, written/receptive language deficits, ADD/ADHD, etc.

Web and Online Media

Bellevue College mandates that all online information resources, including online course content, be designed in a way that makes access possible for all. This requirement is outlined in more detail in the BC ‘About the Website‘ section.

There are many resources available for web page designers, staff, and faculty developing online content. The DRC can provide training and assistance on accessible web and information design to individuals and groups. For information and or assistance please contact the DRC.

Technologies for Alternative Media

Many students access computer-based media using assistive technologies. What follows is a list of commonly used “text-to-speech” software being used at Bellevue College.


There are a variety of “text-to-speech” software titles available for Windows and Apple computers. “Text-to-speech” software is a computer application that allows text-based, on-screen information to be read aloud. Computers use either synthesized or sampled speech technologies to approximate the human voice. The software has many benefits for people that have print access disabilities. For many students, tracking features through word and phrase highlighting is helpful. Many people find the electronic text books much easier to use as compared to a pre-produced audio file because of its multimodal approach; that is, this software allows information to be processed visually and aurally at the same time.

Software for Windows Computers

Text Aloud
Free 30 day trial, option to purchase high-quality voices at discounted price. Text Aloud reads Word, RTF, PDF and HTML files. It can also convert documents to mp3 audio format for listening on the go.
Natural Reader
Free version and 30 day trial of professional version available; option to purchase high-quality voices. Free version can only read text files. Professional reads Word, RTF, PDF and HTML files. It can also convert documents to mp3 audio format for listening on the go.
Readplease 2003
Free. Can read TXT files only. Option to purchase full version and high-quality voices. Readplease has not been updated in a couple of years, but is still widely used.

Software for Apple Computers

15 Day trial, comes with high-quality voices at no additional cost. Can read Word, RTF, PDF and HTML files. It can also convert documents to mp3 audio format for listening on the go.
Type It, Read It
Free. Can read text files and “cut and paste text”. Note: this software is brand new and is still little clunky!


In some instances hardware can be provided for access to alternative media. Most commonly, MP3 and DAISY CD players are used when a software alternative is not appropriate. When needed, this equipment can be checked out on a quarter-by-quarter basis at the DRC.

Technology Resources

Bellevue College Technology Resources

Other Technology Resources

Technology Training and Support

The DRC provides one-on-one and group training for students, faculty and staff on adaptive technologies, alternative media and information design. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about adaptive technologies or alternative media.

Soon, we will expand this space to provide a number of tutorials and training on a variety of topics related to accessible technologies. Please let us know if there is a specific topic you would like covered in an online tutorial.

Last Updated June 30, 2014