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Low Tech and Low Cost Assistive Technology

Sometimes Assistive Technology solutions can be engineered and sourced at very little expense.

Three-dimensional tactile models

Blind students sometimes use tactile models in education.

For example, on courses where graphic representation is required for, tactile graphics can play an important role in presenting an explanation of some task. Mechanical drawing output in Engineering courses for example will have this requirement as well as Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

2D and 3D tactile graphics can be constructed from materials such as wood, paper, plastics, cardboard and metals to construct models – see pictures below.

Tactile Model

Geometric shapes can also be constructed using “strips and pins” on a mat to create a 3D model. The base can be made of wood or cork or any material that you can press or push pins into. Raised line graph paper is also used to fix coordinates and points can be connected using rubber bands, string or light wire.

 An overview of tactile aids can be found here

Ergonomic Pens

Ergonomic Pens pictured below are low tech and low cost AT solutions available to anyone with a handwriting difficulty. Their unique design gives the user more control over the handwriting function.

Ergonomic PensErgonomic Pen in use

Convert Text Files to MP3 – NaturalReader

Text to mp3 converter

NaturalReader is a software package that converts any text into high quality, natural sounding voice. It is integrated with One-Click technology and can read text directly from many applications without having to copy and paste.

It can convert large text files into MP3 or WAV files that can be played on portable devices such as iPods, CD players and PocketPCs.

There are two versions available NaturalReader is a free download and NaturalReader Pro that can convert text to MP3 costs approximately 30 euro.

Free Windows Screenreader – Readplease 2003

Readplease 2003 is a screen reader that will read any text on your screen. It is available as a free download at

Readplease Screenshot


  • Microsoft voices: Mike, Mary, Sam
  • Customize font and background colour
  • Reads text via Windows clipboard from any program (copy/paste)
  • Control reading from system tray
  • Reads e-mail emoticons such as :) or :(
  • Adjustable voice speed (rate)
  • Low vision colour option
  • ReadPlease Enable your website

Talking email program – IcanEmail

ICanEmail is a simple, but powerful, full-screen, talking email program.  For the user, it operates in a sequential manner, where it asks one question at a time, such as "Who would you like to send this to?" or "If you'd like to speak your message, you can do that here."

The email 'partner' (the recipient or sender) sends and receives mail without any special software at all! 
ICanEmail can also let the user send/receive mail from other users on their system, without even using the Internet.
There is also an option to operate ICanEmail by voice, any voice including an Augmentative Communication device. It costs approximately 70 euro.

Talking email program

Accessible Games

Accessible Game

There are many gaming options for people with disabilities. These range from adapted controllers to adapted playing modes.
In 2006 a single switch game, Strange Attractors, was a finalist for an award in a major games industry competition
Many of these are free.
Below are links to some good games sites.
This great site has information on the history and current state of single switch gaming.
And also plenty of good games free to download.

Here are links to a BBC site about accessible gaming.

And here is an award winning game playable by both sighted and sight disabled.

Award Winning Accessible Game

Audyssey the online magazine for sight disabled gamers.

Free software

tucows logo

There is a wealth of free software on the internet from games and voice reader, to typing tutors.

A good website for these is here you will find hundreds of free programs, ranging from fun educational programs and media players to colouring books and video editing software.