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Adaptive technology

Adaptive and assistive technologies help people with a disability mitigate the barriers to access they experience in the world. There are many technologies to help with different types of barriers. Adaptive technology is a type of assistive technology specifically designed for people with a disability. For example:

  • text-to-speech software is assistive technology designed to let anyone listen to text instead of read it
  • a screen reader is adaptive technology specifically designed for people with a vision impairment

CAL Adaptive Technology Program

The Centre for Accessible Learning's (CAL) adaptive technology program:

  • supports students to identify the correct technology to mitigate barriers they experience in their academic work
  • trains students to use their technology
  • advises instructors and support staff about assistive and adaptive technology for students

Students registered with CAL

Students registered with CAL can schedule training or an adaptive technology consultation:

  1. Go to the appointment scheduling page in CAL Online Student Services
  2. Select "assistive and adaptive technology" in the first menu
  3. Use the arrow buttons or date chooser to find an available appointment time
  4. Complete the appointment booking form

Contact the adaptive technology program if you have any trouble booking an appointment.

Students not registered with CAL

Students not registered with CAL can contact the adaptive technology program to schedule a consultation.


Instructors and support staff can schedule an adaptive technology presentation or workshop. Topics include:

  • assistive and adaptive technologies for students
  • digital accessibility

Presentations can last from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the number of engagement activities. Contact the adaptive technology program for more information.

Assistive and adaptive technology on campus

UVic has several spaces on campus where you can access assistive and adaptive technology:

Types of assistive and adaptive technology


Automatic text reformatting changes the font, layout, and colours of a document to make it easier for you to read. Most web browsers and word processors come with this function.

Text-to-speech software reads aloud text from a computer or phone. It usually highlights text being read to allow you to follow along. Most computers and web browsers come with a text-to-speech function.


An alternative pen or pencil sits differently in your hand or on your arm. There are many different shapes and sizes for different people.

Dictation software turns your spoken words into text on your computer. Most computers and word processors come with a dictation function.

A drawing tablet is like a mouse pad with a stylus that acts like a mouse. You can connect it to any computer and write as you would on paper or a touch screen.

Handwriting recognition software automatically converts handwritten text into digital text.

Text prediction software guesses the next word or phrase while you type. You can usually fill in the guess with a single key press, rather than typing it. Most word processors come with this function.


An alternative keyboard or mouse is made for you to use differently from a standard keyboard or mouse. For example, a keyboard with very large keys or a stationary trackball mouse.

A prosthesis is a device that replaces a body part, such as a leg, bone, hand, or eye.

Voice control software turns your spoken words into commands for your computer, like "save file", "scroll down", or "click next page". Most computers come with a voice control function.

A wheelchair is a chair with wheels that allows you to move around without using your legs. A wheelchair can be powered by your arms, another person, or an electric motor.


Automatic transcription software creates a text transcript of human speech. The transcript can be produced in real time, or from a recording. Automatic transcripts can contain errors because of background noise, technical jargon, or speaker accent. Because of these errors, automatic transcripts are usually not sufficient to make audio materials accessible to people with auditory disabilities.

A cochlear implant is a combined ear implant and microphone that transmits sound directly to the nerves of your ear responsible for hearing.

An FM system, short for frequency modulation system, is a combined radio transmitter and receiver. You wear the receiver, which connects to your hearing device. The transmitter is attached to a microphone or other audio device.

A hearing aid is a device that improves your hearing by altering sound before it reaches your ear, such as by amplifying, filtering, and quieting. Modern hearing aids are tuned to your specific hearing needs by an audiologist.


Automatic colour adjustment makes a computer screen easier to understand if you are colour blind. Most computers come with a colour adjustment function.

A magnifying lens is a portable piece of glass or transparent plastic that enlarges the image of an object. A lens can have a handle to be easier for you to pick it up, or be flat to be easier to lay on a page.

A refreshable braille display renders text in braille by raising and lowering plastic pegs. It does not require paper or other materials.

A screen reader is a computer program that renders screen content as speech or braille. A screen reader renders text, alerts you to changes, and describes interface elements like buttons.

A screen magnifier is a computer program that enlarges a portion of the image on your computer screen. Screen magnifiers often include a text-to-speech function or a screen reader. Most computers come with a screen magnifier function.

Tactile graphics use physical features like raised lines and textures to make graphics accessible if you have a vision impairment.

A video magnifier is a combined video camera and screen that magnifies an object to be easier to see. A video magnifier can be stationary for use with books and photos, or handheld for use as you move around.


A speech-generating device creates speech for you in real-time. Most speech-generating devices provide a way to quickly choose common words and phrases, and may also provide a keyboard.

A voice amplification device makes your voice louder and easier for people around you to hear.

Need help?

Email CAL’s adaptive technology program or phone the CAL front desk at 250-472-4947 for help with assistive or adaptive technology, or to schedule a workshop. Contact the UVic Computer Help Desk for help with other computer problems.