On this page we will provide some ideas about the technologies that are available to support people with additional communication needs.
Many of the links in this section will take you to the Living made easy website. This is an impartial advice and information website about daily living equipment and other aspects of independent living.
We do not endorse specific products unless they are provided under our equipment store contract.
Speech access technology
A speech access system converts text to the spoken word. The system consists of hardware (the synthesizer) that does the speaking and software (the screen access program) that directs the synthesizer. Some synthesizers and speech access programs are linked and sold as a package, and some are not.
Before choosing a synthesizer, it is best to consider what is required by the user in terms of the screen access program.
Meet Elle and watch this short video about how she has been able to improve her independence using assistive technology.
Visual and hearing impairment
Around the house
There are all kinds of household equipment available to help you live independently at home. For people with hearing impairment these include vibrating doorbells and alarm clocks as well as mains-powered smoke alarm systems. A full range of items can be found at Household equipment for users who are deaf or have hearing loss.
For people with a visual impairment there are devices which can be used to identify items, such as talking labels which can be used for tins of food, colour detectors and coin and note detectors. More about these items can be found at Identifying items.
Talking clocks can announce the time and there are telephones with spoken announcement of numbers dialled or received. A full range of items can be found at Household equipment for blind or partially sighted users.
Using a computer
Touch screens, alternative keyboards and key depressors provide alternative methods of interacting with a computer for those who struggle to use a mouse or regular keyboard. Keyboards with braille keys are also available as alternatives to QWERTY.
More information about all of the above as well as other equipment to help you to use a computer can be found at Computer use.
There is also computer hardware, such as alternative displays and printers, which can be used to display or create output from your computer.
There is equipment available to help you to read more easily, including book stands, pages turners and devices that convert text to speech or can be used to play audible books. The full range can be seen in the Reading section on the Living made easy website.
The Victor Reader Stream is a handheld media player designed for blind and visually impaired users. For more information see the Humanware website or watch the video below to see how it works.