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Adaptive Technology

Drexel University is proud to offer several different forms of adaptive technology to qualified students with disabilities.  We in the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) here at Drexel wanted to take a moment to describe the different types of Adaptive Technology that students may qualify for, the procedures for accessing the technology, and some additional resources available to all students.

Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil is a computer program available to students on their personal computers via VPN connection to Drexel’s secure server and a one-time software download.  The program is also available in the Haggerty Library Adaptive Technologies Center (ATC).  This program allows students to see scanned book text while listening to the text being read, making notes, highlighting and creating guides on the interactive computer program.  Kurzweil also has the ability to read Word documents and Internet Web pages, create mp3 files of text, and has mind-mapping and outlining tools.

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Kurzweil 3000 – Software Demonstration Videos

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Alternate Formats (Books on CD) Request Policy

How to request books in alternate format:

If you are a student registered with the Office of Disability Resources at Drexel University who would like to request books in alternate format or “books on CD” as an accommodation in one or more classes, please follow the steps below:

  1. Ensure that "Books on CD; PDFs in accessible formats" is listed as an approved accommodation on your Accommodation Verification Letter (AVL).
    If it is not, and you feel that you may qualify for the service please call ODR at 215-895-1401 or e-mail and request an appointment.
  2. For requests using the Alternate Format Book Request Form:
    1. Fill out the Alternate Format Book Request Form and return it to ODR.
      Alternative Format (Books on CDs) Request Policy [PDF] [DOC]
    2. The form can be sent as an e-mail attachment to, faxed to 215-895-1402, or mailed/dropped off to 3201 Arch Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  3. For requests where the student chooses to provide their own books for conversion:
    1. Bring personal copies of the required books to ODR.
    2. ODR will cut the binding, scan the text, convert it into the desired alternate format (generally Kurzweil), burn the file to CD, spiral bind the student’s book and return all materials the to the student.
    3. This process generally takes 5-7 business days and is free of charge.

**This is always an option but students may wish to wait and see if a book is available by way of conversion first.

  1. Provide ODR with a purchase receipt for the textbooks being requested. (Required whether students submit an Alternate Format Book Request Form or whether they bring in their own books to be cut.)

ODR Student Responsibilities:

  1. It is the responsibility of the student to submit all requests in a timely manner.
  2. It is the responsibility of the student to provide ODR with a purchase receipt for any textbook being requested before that book will be provided in alternate format.
  3. If a student has online readings in PDF format that they would like converted into alternate formats it is their responsibility to make this request and provide the specific course information to ODR each term.
  4. If the student feels the book publisher is taking too long to provide an electronic book file (or if they have been informed that the electronic file is not available) the student has the option to bring in their own book for ODR to cut the binding, scan the text, convert it into the desired alternate format, and spiral bind the book to return to the student.  There is no cost for this service and the average turn around for conversion is 5-7 business days.
  5. It is the student's responsibility to inform ODR immediately if their books in alternate format and/or adaptive technology are malfunctioning.

The Office of Disability Resources' Process in Providing Alternate Format Materials:

After receiving a completed Alternate Format Book Request Form, ODR takes the following steps to assist in providing books in alternate format for the student:

  1. If the book is not already on file, ODR will reach out to the book publisher and request an electronic copy of the book.
  2. As soon as the publisher provides the electronic file, or when the student drops off their copy of the text, ODR will convert it into the desired alternate format and burn the file to CD.
  3. ODR will then notify the student via email that the Book on CD is ready for pick-up or delivery by mail.
  4. Generally, most book publishers provide the files in a timely manner however some could take over a week.  Students should keep this in mind when requesting books.
  5. In the event that a book is not available from the publisher, ODR will notify the student via email as soon as possible.  At that point, the student has the option to provide their own book to be cut and converted into alternate format.
  6. Students will be provided with both a Kurzweil (.kes) file as well as a PDF file of their textbook unless a different format is requested.

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FAQ’s – Books on CDs

  • I have "Books on CDs; PDFs in accessible formats" on my AVL, what do I need to do to request this service?
    Select the link for "How to Request a Books in Alternate Format" on the ODR website and follow the instructions.
  • I do not have "Books on CDs; PDFs in accessible formats" on my AVL but I think I may qualify for this as an accommodation, what should I do?
    If you feel you may qualify to receive books on CD but do not have the accommodation currently on your AVL please call ODR at (215)895-1401 and request an appointment to discuss your options.
  • My book seems to be taking a long time to come in, is there anything I can do?
  • Students are welcome to check on the status of their book request at any time by emailing , alternatively students also always have the option to bring in their own textbooks for ODR to cut the binding, scan the text, convert it into alternate format, then spiral bind the book and return it along with the alternate format file to the student.  This process takes approximately 5-7 business days and is free of charge.

  • Can I get Kurzweil installed on my personal computer?
  • Yes!  If you qualify for “Books on CD’s” as an accommodation and would like to have Kurzweil installed on your computer please contact ODR at or 215-895-1401 and request a “Technology Appointment”.

  •  Can I be trained on how to use Kurzweil?
  • Absolutely! Contact ODR at or 215-895-1401 and request a “Technology Appointment”.  Small Group Technology Appointments are also available during the first few weeks of Fall Term.

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    Dragon Naturally Speaking

    Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) is a voice to text program currently available to students in the Haggerty Library Adaptive Technology Center on our University City Campus.  After a brief training, DNS allows a person to speak into a microphone and have their voice automatically transferred into text on the computer.  DNS can be used for any text-based document (ie: Word documents, interactive PDF files, online forms, Excel, etc)
    Video: DNS demonstration

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    Ginger (grammar and spelling checker)

    Ginger is a grammar and spelling checker that uses sentence context and the phonetic sounds of words to offer correction suggestions.  This software is compatible with MS Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  You can download the software for free at the following link:

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    Zoom-Text is a screen magnification and screen reading program used by people with visual impairments.  This software is compatible with Windows based PC’s and offers many features such as: customizable screen magnification and reading, color scheme alterations, compatibility with most windows based software programs and web browsers.  ODR students who qualify to use Zoom-Text as an accommodation should contact our IT-Support representative, Joe Lynn at or X1769 and provide him with several days/times that you would be available for him to remotely connect to your computer and perform the installation.  (Students with visual impairments using MAC computers are encouraged to use the built in screen magnification and voiceover features that come standard on every machine.)

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    Pulse Smart Pen

    The Pulse SmartPen is a writing and recording device.  Students can take notes using the pen while instantaneously recording the audio from the professor’s lecture.  The pen then goes one step beyond regular recording and will let the user playback specific audio by simply tapping on the page to hear what was being said at the same time that a word or image was written down.  The SmartPen is available from several major retailers and is considered a person aide (something that students would be responsible for purchasing on their own).  Click the following link to learn more about the pen and to watch a video about how it can specifically help college students with disabilities:

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    Helpful iPhone and iPad apps

    Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app

    • Sono Flex – ACC vocabulary app turns symbols into clear speech.  The have a Lite (free) version and a full version ($99.99)
    • Verbally - Verbally is an easy-to-use, comprehensive Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app for the iPad. Verbally brings speech to those without and enables real conversation with its simple, intuitive design. Just tap in what you want to say and Verbally speaks for you.

    Concept Mapping

    • Inspiration Maps – brainstorm, analyze, take notes, study, etc. Lite version (free) allows you to create up to five diagrams.  Full version ($14.99) is unlimited.
    • iThoughts (Ipad - $9.99/Iphone ($7.99) a mind mapping tool
    • Mind Meister (free) – create and share mind maps (requires free registration)
    • Mindjeg (Ipad - free) – easily enter ideas, tasks and meeting notes into intuitive visual maps
    • Popplet - brainstorming and mind mapping with options for a Lite version (free) which has a limit of one popplet and the full version ($4.99) which is unlimited.
    • Simple mind + - mind mapping software with a free version and fully functional version ($6.99)
    • Total Recall (free) – mind  mapping software
    • WordCloud – mind mapping (free)


    • FormulasHD for Calculus (free) - FormulusHD is the perfect study tool. It is a simple, easy to use, easy to navigate collection of the most important formulas and topics for high school and college students taking Calculus and Differential Equations.
    • Free Graphing CalculatorGraphing Calculator turns your phone or iPod into an intuitive high-resolution function plotter and scientific calculator – There are versions that are free and versions over $10.00.

    Note Taking/Writing Apps

    • AudioNote –allows you to record notes and audio synced with note taking app.  The have a lite version (free) which limits to 10 minutes per note and 2 hours total OR a full version ($4.99). 
    • Bamboo Paper – Notebook: Natural handwriting on digital paper with use of Stylus (Free).
    • inClass - Basic app for organizing your terms, courses and daily calendar but it also has the additional benefit of note-taking with the app with ability to record audio, insert or take a picture as well as file-share.
    • PaperDesk - Record audio while taking notes. They have lite version (3 pages per note book) and full version ($4.99) with unlimited pages in the notebooks). 
    • Typ-O - Includes word prediction, text-to-speech and corrects most common spelling mistakes. They have a Typ-o Lite (Iphone) version for free, a Typ-o Writing is for Everyone (Iphone) version for $4.99, and the Typ-o HD version (Ipad and Iphone) for $14.99


    • GoodReader ($4.99) -  super-robust PDF reader for iPad where you can read virtually anything, anywhere - books, movies, maps, pictures.
    • iAnnotate ($9.99) - Read, annotate, and share PDFs.
    • iBooks (free) - iBooks is an amazing way to download and read books. You can flip through pages, bookmark or add notes to your favorite passages and some have audio visual features
    • inDAISY ($19.99) -  multimedia talking DAISY book reader that allows users to enjoy different flavors of DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 books
    • Inkling (free)  - Digital college textbooks. A textbook case of innovation. Inkling brings the world’s best content to iPad with interactivity, social collaboration and simple ease-of-use. No more heavy, expensive textbooks to carry around campus. Inkling textbooks are more interactive, more flexible and cheaper.
    • Kindle  - download articles, books and more
    • Learning Ally ($16.99) - Gain instant access to Learning Ally's downloadable DAISY formatted books. Learning Ally members can explore our extensive library of more than 65,000 audiobooks that are designed for people with print and learning disabilities.
    • PDF-Notes - Utilize pdf-notes to manage all the pdf files on your iPad. Fast display, quick page-turning even a thousand pages, useful finger-writing and email your notes to your friends. Easy importing PDF files through (DropBox, Email or Safari's). Free version has advertisements and paid version does not.
    • Read 2 Me ($4.99) - Read 2 Me is the FIRST AND ONLY iPhone App that allows full speech synthesis for an entire library of texts. You can even import you own URL based *.txt files straight into your bookshelf to be read aloud!
    • Read2Go ($19.99)- From within Read2Go, you can browse, search, download, and read books directly from Bookshare using your Bookshare membership, as well as read DAISY books from other sources.
    • ZoomReader (19.99) - In combination with your iPhone’s built-in camera, ZoomReader lets you magnify and read printed text by first taking a picture of an object like a book or menu, then converts the image into text using state-of-the-art Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology.

    Recording Apps

    • Audio Memos Free – voice recorder
    • D2u Dictation and Transcription (free) - The “d2u app” combines a world-class voice recorder with the one of the world’s top Transcription Services to provide you with the best dictation and transcription solution available. Record, edit and upload a digital recording then have the file accurately and efficiently transcribed to text anywhere, at anytime. All you need is an Internet connection. It’s easy to use, yet safe and secure (128 bit encryption). We are fully data protected and HIPAA Compliant.
    • Dragon Dictation (free) - Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages.
    • QuickVoice (free) - is the most popular, full-featured iPhone/iPad voice recorder available. Record ideas, voice memos, voice email, dictation, lists, meetings, classes, or entire lectures! For professional, educational, and personal use. 


    • iSpeech (free) – type text and it will speak back to you
    • Read It (free) – type text and it will speak back to you
    • Speak It To Me HD (free) – type text and it will speak back to you
    • Speak Text - Text-to-Speech for emails, documents, web pages, PDF files, and more.  You have to paste into Speak it!  Free version speaks / translates a few sentences only and has sponsored ads. They have a variety of versions (e.g. text, office and a combined version).  They also have a paid version ($9.99 each for text and web, $16.99 each for office and e-book, and a combined version for $19.99)

    Time Management/Organization

    • Evernote - helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use – notes, photos, to-do list, and voice reminders.  Its searchable! (Free)
    • myHomework (Ipad and Iphone)- keep track of your homework, classes, projects and tests
    • Schedule Planner HD (free)  
    • TextMinder (Iphone - $1.99) - TextMinder allows you to schedule SMS text reminders to be sent to you at the times you specify, repeating as often as you choose. Remind yourself of your medication, homework assignment, class, meeting, etc.

    And there are so many more

    • – (free version with advertisements or $4.99 no advertisements)
    • iElements – view periodic table online
    • Molecules – three dimensional models of molecules
    • Pandora – music for background noise

    (Information on helpful iPhone and iPad apps has been provided by Deanna L Arbuckle, MRC, CRC from the University of Dayton via a presentation at the 2012 AHEAD Conference.)

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