These are the IPad apps I used during my degrees as a print reader with low vision. I used an iPad because it is a great way to carry all the assistive tech I needed for lectures, seminars and to study groups.
For lectures and taking notes I used Good Notes instead of writing on paper. Good notes is an app that lets you use your iPad like a notebook but, ideally for me, you can zoom into your own handwriting and invert colours. I used a cheap stylus from amazon to write on this. I still use it today because it gives me the feeling of handwriting writing without being unable to read what I’ve written.
When I was at university I was given a Sonnecent account by DSA. This is now called Glean. This app is like a high tech Dictaphone. It records and allows you to add written notes and create titles for the audio notes. DSA gave me a plug in microphone to help with recording the audio for Glean. This is one I wish I used more, instead of struggling to go between my copy of the lecture slides while I made notes.
Since I did a humanities degree, it felt like most of my time at university was taken up by reading. In my first year I tried to read my university books on my iPad with magnification but found it incredibly difficult and draining. A friend told me about Voice Dream and it made my life so much easier. This app lets you export pdfs and e-pubs and reads them aloud. The main thing I liked about it is that it meant I was able to keep all of the journal articles in one place, put them in folders according to assignments or theme and you can export the quotes you highlight. I still use this now to read PDFs because I find it much easier then finding where I’ve saved a PDF and then selecting voiceover to speak.
As a visually impaired person you can join the RNIB library– a free library for print disabled people. Your university should get an account with RNIB Bookshare- a service similar to the RNIB Library but for educational institutions. The app you need for reading these books is Dolphin EasyReader.
Although EasyReader is a great app and is very helpful, it’s difficult to use when you want to cite a quotation directly from the app. In these cases, I would have to cross reference the quotation visually with a PDF with page numbers. If you have a better way of doing this, please let me know!
Be My AI is an amazing new feature of Be My Eyes. It wasn’t around when I was a student but I wish it had been! Some texts were only available in print which meant I either had to ask a friend to go through the index for me so I could painstakingly take pictures of the relevant pages then scour them with the text so zoomed in it went even blurrier. Be My AI would have made this so much easier. All you have to do is take a picture of a page, export it to Be my AI then it describes the picture, including all the text. You can copy and paste its response into another document. This would have also been amazing for those times when lecturers forgot to send me the slides beforehand- it would have saved me so much eye energy and migraines.
Another app I still use all the time is Grammarly. This was so good for writing assignments and notes. I often make mistakes and typos when I am dictating and Grammarly makes checking my spelling and grammar checks so much easier and quicker. I wasn’t given this with DSA but I believe others have so it’s worth asking for!
Lastly, the two dictation apps I used were Dragon Naturally Speaking or Voice Dream Writer. I got Dragon from DSA but when my subscription ran out after university I bought Voice Dream Writer which I use now. They both do the same thing but Voice Dream Writer I had to pay for.
If you have any questions or suggestions for future resources, please feel free to email me: email@example.com.
Here are some more pages with more advice on this!