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Accessible Software That Makes Work Easier

We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and this is also true of how we use our computers. Even people who look amazing at everything IT have one or two tasks they would love an electronic assistant to help them with. Accessible software is designed to take the effort you put into a task and multiply it. You can think of them like gears on a bicycle, you put effort into turning the wheels, and the gears multiply your effort, spinning the wheels even faster than just you alone. Accessibility software can help any computer user save time, multitask, or even focus, and it's especially helpful for people who have disabilities like visual problems, hearing loss, or even slow reading.


This guide will help you think about the accessible software available to you, how it could help you, and where you can get it. So, read on if an electronic assistant sounds useful to you.

 

Visual Assistants


From tired eyes and blurry vision to migraines and color problems, there are programs available to help you with any visual difficulty. So, take a look at these examples and see if they could help you with your work.


ColorVeil - Colored Overlay


If you get eyestrain from using screens all day, you find different colored lights are better for reading, or you are sensitive to contrast, ColorVeil could be a great assistant for you. It works by creating a colored 'overlay' that slightly changes the colors on your screen, reducing contrast, blue light levels, reading difficulties, or even reflections on your glasses! ColorVeil is also quick and easy to use and you can choose the exact color you want your overlay, and how strong it is.

Program:

ColorVeil

Price:

Free!

Available on:

Windows and as a web browser extension for Windows, iOS, and Linux-based browsers. Download here.

User Guide:


Windows Magnifier and Zoom


Windows and MacOS have built-in zooming apps to help you increase the size of smaller areas of your screen. These apps are a fantastic help for people with eye injuries, hay fever, cataracts, and any other reason small details might be difficult to see. They are also useful for helping people focus on one area and not worry about lots of unrelated details distracting them.

Program:

Magnifier and Zoom

Price:

Free

Available on:

  • Windows: Start → All Apps → Accessibility → Magnifier.

  • MacOS: Settings → Accessibility → Zoom.

User Guide:

 

Reading Assistants


Reading assistance software can be extremely helpful for people who enjoy multitasking, benefit from hearing their work read back to them, and anyone with reading or vision difficulties.


Windows Narrator and MacOS VoiceOver


Narrator and VoiceOver are reading assistant apps that come as standard with Windows and MacOS. They read the text on your screen out loud to you in a computer-generated voice. Don't be worried about strange robot voices, both applications come with modernized voices that are comfortable to listen to. Narrator also allows you to control your computer by pressing keys when it reads out buttons, program icons, and website links to you.

Program:

Narrator and VoiceOver

Price:

Free

Available on:

  • Windows: Start → All Apps → Accessibility → Narrator

  • MacOS: Apple menu→  System Settings→  click Accessibility→ Spoken Content→ click on 'Speak Selection'

User Guide:

 

Grammar and Writing Assistants


It's easy to make mistakes when typing, and in a modern working environment, typing is an essential skill. Luckily there are a variety of programs out there to catch your grammar mistakes and spelling errors, change blocks of text into bullet point lists, and even train you to be a quicker and more accurate typist.


Grammarly Web Browser Plug-in

Installing Grammarly as a browser extension is a great way to check your writing for spelling and grammar mistakes as you type. When installed in a web browser, Grammarly underlines mistakes in red and makes recommendations in yellow, so it's easy to see when you could improve your writing. Grammarly's suggestions are usually reliable but there can be times when the AI doesn't understand your work and makes incorrect suggestions. This is rare but it does happen, so if you are sure you are correct you might want to look up the correct grammar or spelling to check.

Program:

Grammarly

Price:

Free, but a premium version is also available with extras

Available on:

Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Download here.

User Guide:


ChatGPT

ChatGpt is an all-around general assistant run with artificial intelligence designed by OpenAi. You can ask it to do a huge number of things, but it is especially useful for improving writing. It can take your work and make it easier for non-native English speakers to read, make it more concise, create a bullet-point list from it, upgrade the business vocabulary used, or even remove the business vocabulary and give it a more casual tone. ChatGPT is very flexible and easy to instruct, so try asking it to help with other writing-related tasks and see if it can!


Remember: ChatGPT gets its information from the internet. That means it makes mistakes sometimes, and it probably isn't safe to give an AI any personal details. To use chat GPT safely we recommend checking its facts and using a non-work email address to register.

Program:

ChatGPT

Price:

Free

Available on:

Any web browser or phone at openai.com.

User Guide:

 

Virtual Typing Assistants


There are many things that can make typing on a physical keyboard difficult. Have you hurt your fingers, got arthritis, broken your keyboard, or do you type too slowly? No problem. Virtual typing assistants are available to give you a mouse-operated keyboard, respond to your voice, or even train you to be a better typist.


On-Screen Keyboard and Accessibility Keyboard

Onscreen Keyboard and Accessibility Keyboard are standard programs that come with Windows and MacOS. They provide a virtual keyboard on your screen that you can operate using your mouse instead of a physical external keyboard. On-screen keyboards can help you continue your work if anything happens to your physical keyboard, and provide an important rest for painful or damaged hands.

Program:

Onscreen Keyboard and Accessibility Keyboard.

Price:

Free

Available on:

  • Windows: Start → All Apps → Accessibility → On-Screen Keyboard.

  • MacOS: Apple menu→  System Settings→  click Accessibility→ Keyboard→ turn on Accessibility Keyboard.

User Guide:


TypingMaster 11



TypingMaster 11 is a different kind of assistant, it's more of a personal coach to help you improve your typing. Voted the best way to improve the speed and accuracy of your typing several times in 2023 and 2024 by numerous review sites, Typingmaster 11 has a lot of happy customers. It has a mix of tutorials and practical tasks that increase your typing skills over time, and with a one-time payment, it's not another subscription to worry about!

Program:

Typing Master 11

Price:

$19.90 one-time payment.

Available on:

Microsoft Windows. Download here.

User Guide:


Apple Dictation and Windows Voice Typing / Voice Access


Apple Dictation and Windows Voice Typing / Voice Access are free MacOS and Windows apps that allow you to control your computer with your voice, including typing, opening documents, changing your volume, and much more. Voice typing lets you use both hands for other tasks, and even lets you rest your eyes while you focus on what you want to say when typing. Both applications work quite well without training but it is recommended that you set up the voice training on your computer first to improve how it recognizes your specific voice.

Program:

Voice Typing (Windows 10), Voice Access (Windows 11), and Apple Dictation.

Price:

Free

Available on:

  • Windows: Start → All Apps → Accessibility → Voice Access.

  • MacOS: Apple menu→ System Settings→  click ‘Accessibility’→ Keyboard→ click on ‘Dictation’

User Guide:

 

Organizational Assistants


Organizational skills are the key to getting things done and meeting your targets, but that isn't always easy to do when you have lots of responsibilities. This is where organizational assistants come in to help. There are apps that can help you manage your time more effectively, remind you to take breaks, and even help you focus while tracking your working hours. Take a look at these organizational assistants and see if they can help you!


Tiimo

Tiimo is a phone app designed to help people plan their day more productively. You can begin by using a wide variety of planning templates made by Tiimo and move on to making your own that do exactly what you need. It features daily planning sessions, reminders of the activities you need to complete each day, educational videos about planning, and much more. It was designed to help people who find it difficult or stressful to plan, but it's useful to anyone who would like a more structured planning routine that will remind you if you forget your tasks!

Program:

Tiimo

Price:

Free with a premium version available.

Available on:

User Guide:


Pomodoro Timers


'Pomodoro' is the Italian word for tomato, and it is the name of a time management method that splits your focused working time into small sections (tomatoes) with quick breaks between. This helps you keep your focused working time more productive and makes tiredness and burnout less likely. There are many different Pomodoro timers available from simple web-based timers to feature-heavy mobile apps. Links to some of the best are available below!

Program:

Pomodor

Style:

Extremely simple web-based timer app.

Price:

Free

Available on:

Pomodor.app (Marianatimer.com offers a group timer)

Program:

Toggl Track integrated pomodoro timer

Style:

A browser extension for tracking billable working hours with a Pomodoro option available.

Price:

Free

Available on:

Program:

Session

Style:

Feature heavy timer with session logs for Apple users.

Price:

Monthly subscription of $4.99 or $39.99 for a year ($3.33 per month)

Available on:

 

Wrap Up


Even if you are highly skilled with lots of experience, help is always available to make things a little easier for you. That help could change things in many ways:

  • You get less eye strain

  • You can move around your office while you work

  • You organize your time more efficiently

  • You reduce your back pain

  • You increase your writing speed

  • You are less stressed at work


Try not to think of virtual assistants and accessibility options as something to fix your problems or do the work you can't. These apps are widely available because they are helpful for so many people. Every worker can benefit from a virtual assistant taking over some of their workload. So, think about the tasks an assistant could take over for you and try out some assistive software.


Remember the bicycle idea: Virtual assistance software takes the effort you put in and multiplies it. They are nothing without you, but as a team, you can do more than ever before!



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