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Assistive Technology

The AT(Assistive Technology) program is a part of Disability Services and Programs which is located on the third floor of the Student Union (STU 301) at The University of Southern California. The AT program provides services to students with permanent or temporary disabilities such as access to various forms of assistive computer technology (including voice recognition systems, reading machines, and voice synthesis systems) and training on the use of these systems so that students can use these technologies to enhance academic independence and productivity.

Mission Statement
The mission of the USC Assistive Technology Program is to focus on assistance and accommodations for students at USC with permanent or temporary disabilities through the integration of assistive computer technologies in areas of instruction and research at USC, and to provide support for access to computers, local area networks, and on-line information resources.

Official Definition for Assistive Technology:
Equipment of software items designed to use to compensate for areas of disability or impairment. It allows students with disabilities the same access to information and production as their peers.

What is Assistive Technology?

So what is assistive technology anyway? Put simply, assistive technology is any device that can be used to enhance learning, living, or recreation for a person with a disability. This includes a range of devices including low tech devices such as mouth sticks and communication boards, to high tech devices like voice output augmentative communication devices and voice recognition systems. More specifically, at USC assistive technology refers to the devices and systems used to make learning and research easier for students with permanent or temporary disabilities. Some of the devices or systems that we use at USC include Kurzweil VOICE recognition systems for students with mobility impairments who have difficulties using keyboard or mouse commands to operate a computer. With this system most commands that can be done with a keyboard or mouse (including typing, opening and closing applications, etc.) can be done using voice commands.

Other devices used include Out Spoken, MacinTalk, and the Kurzweil Reading Edge which can read documents, books, or the contents of a computer screen, to students have visual impairments. The goal of the USC Assistive Technology program is to use these devices and systems to help improve a student's ability to learn and participate in research while at USC. We do this by giving them access to the various devices and systems we have, and then we train the students on the use of these systems. In the near future we also hope to implement screen reading systems in order to make the internet and other on-line information resources accessible to students with visual impairments or other sight related disabilities.

Services Offered

Some of the services that are available through the USC Assistive Technology program are:

Access to assistive computer technologies including: reading machines, voice recognition, large screen software and displays, voice synthesis, and similar assistive technology for students with disabilities.

Training in the use of these technologies for students who wish to use them.

List of Software Available

  • Kurzweil 3000
  • Netscape
  • Internet Explorer
  • Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access)
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • Jaws for Windows WYNN (What You Need Now)
  • ZoomText Xtra

Software Descriptions

WYNN Arkenstone

What: WYNN Arkenstone is a reading productivity tool designed to help people read more efficiently, comprehend more easily, and study more effectively. WYNN opens a file that has been scanned in using a flatbed scanner and reads it aloud, simultaneously allowing the reading to be followed on-screen.

For Whom:
Individuals with learning disabilities.
Individuals who may find reading difficult or laborious.
Individuals with a short concentration span.

Dragon Naturally Speaking

What: Dragon Naturally Speaking (Natspeak) is a large-vocabulary continuous-speech dictation system. Allows voice-activated text editing rather than keyboard input.

For Whom:
• Individuals with short attention spans.
• Visually-impaired individuals
• Individuals with learning disabilities.

Dragon Natspeak requires patience (for training the computer to recognize the user's voice). The user also needs to speak clearly and use Standard English.

Kurzweil Reading Edge/Kurzweil 3000

What: Portable reading machine that allows a page to be scanned in and read aloud, much like WYNN. The page does not remain in the machine while it is being read. Speed and volume adjustable.

For Whom:
• Blind or visually impaired individuals.
• Individuals with learning disabilities.

This software is available in the Assistive Technology room, STU 301K and at Leavey Library. Users must receive AT training prior to using these resources in either room.

Contact Information

To get more information on our program and services you can e-mail us at:

Kevin J. Bolen, M.Ed.
Coordinator, Assistive Technology

University of Southern California
Center for Academic Support
Student Union, Room 301
Los Angeles , CA 90089-0896

9:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M.
Phone: (213) 740-0776
Fax: (213) 740-8216
TDD: (213) 740-6948