Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology can help to enhance learning, teaching, and work, with the use of a piece of equipment, software, or system to modify areas of difficulty.

Tired of reading text on a screen all day? Need a break from typing or help taking notes in class after breaking an arm? There may be a piece of hardware or software available that can help.

Equipment and Hardware

Headsets with microphones, scanners, voice recorders, and more — all are available to use from a variety of places on campus. Find out what equipment is available, who to contact, and where to go. 

Juli Haugen, Digital Accessibility Specialist


Many software companies are creating software with built-in accessibility tools. Microsoft products like Word, PowerPoint, Teams, and Excel all come with options for text to speech, speech to text, language options, accessibility checkers, equation editors, and customizable reading options. Learn more about Microsoft Office's built-in accessibility tools and other software that can be used.

Digital and Audio Textbooks

Bowdoin has a subscription with Bookshare, a database filled with textbooks that have been converted for online reading and audio reading. Contact Lesley Levy in the Student Accessibility Office for more information. The Bowdoin College Library is also a good resource for locating digital versions of materials or contact your library department liaison.

Captioning and Transcripts

Including captions on videos, turning on live captions during a meeting, and transcripts with audio files are not only required for accessibility, but helpful for everyone viewing or listening. Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Panopto offer live captions, automatic captioning, transcripts, and the ability to edit caption and transcript files. Learn more about captioning and Bowdoin's captioning policy.


In addition to the many applications available to download, the iPad comes equipped with a suite of customizable tools to assist with vision, motor skills, hearing, and more. Find out more about accessibility settings on your iPad.

OCR for PDFs

When PDFs are image-based, there is not a lot one can do with them, other than reading or printing. If you  want to select or highlight text, use a screen reader, or use the file on an eReader, the PDF needs to be text-based and searchable.

ABBYY FineReader and Adobe Acrobat DC are two products that can convert image-based PDFs to text-based PDFs using OCR. ABBYY FineReader is installed on the computer attached to the scanner in the Media Commons and faculty, staff, and students can download Acrobat DC to their computer.