World Sight Day: Assistive Technology


There are approximately 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired or blind. That’s why today (12/10/17) marks the fifth year of World Sight Day; a great opportunity where we can raise awareness and talk about the available support.

How We Can Help

At iansyst, we have a plethora of assistive technology and provision to help anyone with a visual impairment. It’s important to get assessed to find out the level of sight loss and then we can help with each individual’s need and find the relevant tools to assist them.

Technology that supports people with visual impairments


world sight day

One of the world’s most popular screen readers for Windows, Jaws helps users with vision loss as the software reads content on the computer aloud and in a human-synthesised speech. It also has efficient interaction with web pages, so it can help the user fill in forms and tables correctly. The software also has optical character recognition (OCR), which provides access to previously inaccessible PDFs or scanned images.

High Visibility Keyboards

We have a variety of high visibility keyboards for children and adults. From keyboards with larger letters that can help user readability to keyboards with Bluetooth embedded, which can link the device with not only their computers but also their iPads. We also offer multi-coloured keyboards, which can help individuals, especially children, write with an easy-to-remember colour coordinated system.

Take a look at our full range here.


OrCam offers an easy-reading solution so the user can transfer visual information into spoken words. The glasses will instantly read text aloud, such as restaurant menus, books, newspapers and street signs, which allows the user to regain their independence.

At iansyst, we are passionate about finding the latest assistive technology that can help people with visual impairments make day-to-day tasks easier and achieve their full potential.  For more information on any of our products, please get in contact with a member of our staff on 01223 420101.

Talking about Mental Health and Learning Disabilities

Mental Health and Learning Disabilities

One out of four of us suffer from mental health issues each year, however for adults and young people with learning disabilities, mental illness is much more common. Since today is World Mental Health Day, we believe it’s important to look at why this is more prevalent with people who have learning disabilities and to raise awareness around this issue.

There are many obstacles that people with learning difficulties have to face on a day-to-day basis and the frustration and sometimes isolation that can stem from them can increase the likelihood of mental health problems. These obstacles include:


It’s no secret that people with disabilities are at higher risk of unemployment and find it much harder to get work. In 2016, the unemployment rate for people with no disabilities was at 4.6 percent, however for people with disabilities it’s double that – at 10.5 percent, which has been fixed since 2014. Obviously, unemployment has a significant impact to a person’s mental health, as it causes financial strain and huge self-esteem issues.

Social Attitudes

Even though there has been legislation passed that protects people with disabilities in the workplace and classroom, there are still social barriers that exist and are hard to overcome. This is mainly due to people’s lack of knowledge, which leads to the individuals facing discrimination and, particularly in younger adults and children, are more likely to be bullied and excluded from social activities, which no doubt will have an impact on the individuals’ mental health.

Raising awareness and educating others on different learning disabilities is one way to help reduce the stigma that surrounds some learning disabilities.

Experiencing More Negative Events

With some disabilities, the individual is likelier to experience more traumatic events such as injury and illness, negative attitudes, deprivation and poverty—all of which can have a negative effect on mental health.

If the individual isn’t getting the right support in the classroom or workplace, this can cause deep frustration and embarrassment, which is why it’s essential that these environments can offer the support and adjustments.  If you need more information on this, please visit our website, which offers a range of assistive technology and training sessions for your workplace.

How Can You Help?

Diagnosing mental health problems can be difficult, as Mencap describes: “A major barrier to diagnosing mental health problems in people with a learning disability is that symptoms shown […] might be seen as behaviour related to their learning disability instead of the real problem – the mental health problem. “

It’s important to be aware of some of the following symptoms of poor mental health, such as:

  • Feeling sad
  • Having low energy levels
  • Excessive fears and worries
  • Problems with concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Detachment from reality
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Withdrawal from social activities and friends
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Suicidal thoughts

mental health and learning disabilitiesRemember: each person is different and symptoms can vary, however if you know someone who may be struggling from mental health issues, it’s important to be respectful, start an open and honest dialogue and listen. 

There are many organisations out there that can listen and work with you. Mind, the mental health charity have a phone line and can offer assistance if you need urgent help, so please don’t be discouraged.

Identifying Early Signs of Dyslexia in Children

Today marks the start of Dyslexia Awareness Week (2nd – 6th of October) in association with the British Dyslexia Association (BDA)! At iansyst, we hope this week will encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences, whether you have the condition yourself or if you are a parent of a child with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Awareness Week

Dyslexia can affect a person’s reading, writing and spelling but it can also affect other areas such as working memory, sequencing, orientation, time management and much more. The severity levels differ from each individual, so not everyone with the condition will experience the same symptoms, so it’s important to understand what to look out for, especially if you are a teacher or parent. Since dyslexia affects an estimated one in ten people in the UK, being able to identify the condition early can help those who are affected, so each individual can receive the relevant support and tools to increase their confidence for their time at school and throughout the later stages of their life.

Early Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia becomes more apparent in children once they reach school, however it can be possible to detect signs in preschool children. Symptoms can include:

  • Problems with speech, such as not being able to pronounce longer words and getting words mixed up
  • Unable to express themselves, either having difficulty articulating sentences or remembering words.
  • They may finding rhyming difficult and have little interest in the alphabet

You may also detect a delay in their speech development for their age group, however it’s important to point out this this can also be linked with problems other than dyslexia.

Signs of Dyslexia in School Children

When children reach school age, this is when symptoms become more present, as they are encourage to read, write and spell on a daily basis. It’s important to look out for the following:

  • Poor and inconsistent spelling, such as adding and omitting letters
  • Difficulty reading aloud and regularly making errors
  • Poor handwriting
  • Struggling to carry out directions
  • Having trouble learning sequences such as the months of the year
  • Poor phonological awareness
  • Slow writing speed

Dyslexia doesn’t have a cure but there are lots of tools out there to overcome any difficulties faced by the condition. At iansyst, we have dedicated assistive technology to help you or your child fulfil their potential and instil confidence. We offer a range of products, such as Typing Tutors, text-to-speech and note taking software and equipment that relieves visual stress.

For more information on our full range of products, please take a look at our website or if you have any questions, ring us on 01223 420 101.

Latest Assistive Technology Products: August 2016

Screenshot from CapturaTalk iOS

As we come closer to August, we here at wanted to take a look at the latest assistive technology products which have been released this month. New additions for August updates to Spellex Dictation Gold and Ghotit Real Writer & Reader software. This month’s blog is a good one as we will take a look at the newest technology which will be available for teachers and students to use in the new school term.

As always, we encourage you to sign up to our newsletter to ensure you don’t miss next month’s item. Please follow this link to sign up to the newsletter. Plus, when you sign up you will receive a 10% off coupon code to use on!


Latest Assistive Technology Software


·        Ghotit Real Writer & Reader

This month, Ghotit released a brand new version of Ghotit Real Writer & Reader which has some new and exciting features that have been added in. The software includes patented technology to help people with dyslexia and dysgraphia to overcome many of the common issues faced whilst writing text. New features include the integration of a context-sensitive and phonetic spell checker, speech feedback, reading assistance with dual highlighting and a screenshot reader to read aloud any text from images and inaccessible documents.

Assistive Technology to cope with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

·        Spellex Dictation Gold

This month, Spellex released an update to their vocabulary software, Spellex Dictation Gold. The software works with speech recognition programs such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or Microsoft, and provides specialised vocabularies for subjects such as medicine, law, veterinary medicine and bioscientific/engineering. Please contact us by emailing if you would like to upgrade your software to the latest version.

New features include an enhanced dictionary and spellchecker which features complex terminology. This allows you to dictate your ideas without errors or disruption. It has also integrated the ‘Spellex Suite’ which gives quick definitions for over 550,000 words, human voice word pronunciations and a handy thesaurus to help improve writing. The final new feature added to Spellex Dictation Gold is the inclusion of DysLex™ font, a dyslexia friendly font, which helps to reduce jumbling letters and eases frustration when reading.


Latest Assistive Technology Apps


·Screenshot from CapturaTalk iOS        CapturaTalk

This month, iansyst have released a brand new update to the literacy support and accessibility app, CapturaTalk. This update has integrated lots of new and improved features. For current users of CapturaTalk, your app will automatically update via the App Store. If you are not a current user, you can download CapturaTalk by following this link to the App Store or Google Play.

CapturaTalk is an app for iOS and Android devices which allows you to transform your smartphone or tablet into a truly accessible device and access content independently in a way that suits you. It’s a great app for those with dyslexia or visual impairments as it includes features such as text-to-speech technology, optical character recognition technology and personalisation features such as tinted overlays.


·        Windows 10

Windows have also released an impressive accessibility update this month to celebrate Windows 10 reaching its 1st Birthday. The update aims to make Windows 10 more accessible to support the 1 billion+ disabled users across the globe. Improvements have been made to the screen reading feature, apps such as Cortana and Microsoft Edge have been made more accessible, and tools have been introduced to make accessibility easier for developers. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is scheduled to be rolled out to users on 2nd August. Please follow this link to find out more about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

Ghotit Version 5 Software to Support Dyslexia

Ghotit Real Writer and Reader 5

This month, we have launched Ghotit Real Writer & Reader 5 on – a brand new version of the reading and writing software which supports individuals with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other learning disabilities. If you would like to find out more about the software and how it could help you, please comment on our blog below!


What is Ghotit Real Writer and Reader?

Ghotit LogoGhotit Real Writer and Reader is assistive technology software that helps people overcome many of the common issues that are faced whilst writing text. It includes patented technology which provides the most appropriate corrections for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes by looking at the intended meaning of the piece of text.


What new features does version 5 bring?

The brand new version of Ghotit Real Writer and Reader brings a wealth of new features to help those with dyslexia to read and write:

  • Quick-spell word prediction with instant correction
  • Context-sensitive and phonetic spell checker to correct words such as ‘notest’ to ‘noticed’
  • Advanced grammar and punctuation corrector
  • Effective proof-reader
  • Speech feedback
  • Integrated English dictionary which supports US, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African English
  • Reading assistance with dual highlighting
  • Screenshot reader to read aloud any text on the screen to read text from images, locked PDF files and inaccessible documents
  • Word banks for word prediction based on different topics
  • Integration with all text editing applications
  • Standalone “Dyslexia Text Editor”


How does the software support dyslexic people?

The software is a great tool for those with dyslexia as it tackles many of the common problems that they may face whilst writing. This includes difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, proofing and accessing documents in different formats.


You can purchase the new software online by following this link to Ghotit Real Writer and Reader 5 on

Latest Assistive Technology July 2016

Latest Assistive Technology: Updates to Sonocent Recorder App

Assistive technology is a broad term to describe assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative software, hardware and apps to support people with disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and much more. Each month, we take a look at the latest assistive technology that has been released and sum this up in a bite size blog on We are very excited about this month’s latest assistive technology as the new Dyscalculia Screener launches, as well as updates released for the Sonocent Recorder app.


Latest Assistive Technology Software, Hardware and Apps


This summer, iansyst and Loughborough University will be launching a new and refreshed version of the Dyscalculia Screener. It was originally launched in the early 2000’s and was the first web-based screener for dyscalculia. The screener has been designed to screen both large groups and individuals who are struggling with maths. It features a series of mathematical questions that have been developed through extensive research. The screening process generally takes less than an hour to complete and gives an indication as to whether the individual is ‘at risk’ of dyscalculia.

Image of the Dyscalculia Screener logo

The Dyscalculia Screener is launching in summer 2016 and can be purchased as a single or multi-user licence. It will be available to purchase after the launch by following this link to the Dyscalculia Screener website >>


Latest Assistive Technology: Updates to Sonocent Recorder AppSonocent Recorder is a smart note-taking app which has been designed for use with Sonocent Audio Notetaker. The app was originally launched back in 2014 and allows you to create comprehensive recordings of lessons, meetings or interviews on your smartphone or tablet. It is primarily designed to support those with dyslexia, however the productivity benefits of the app means that it can be beneficial to anyone in a meeting environment. This month we have seen some exciting new features added to the app.  Existing users of Sonocent Recorder will receive a notification about the updates from their mobile device. If you are not a current user, Sonocent Recorder is free to download on the App Store or Google Play.

New features include noise cancellation on audio, the ability to add your own coloured keys for audio highlighting, ‘glance mode’ to record and highlight discreetly, and the ability to browse and upload photos to your file even when not recording. The app also includes an in-app upgrade which allows you to listen back to full recordings and add colour highlighting audio chunks and sections on review.


Texthelp Read&Write is a popular piece of literacy support software which helps those with dyslexia with reading and writing. Read&Write is a simple and easy-to-use toolbar which provides speech feedback, phonetic spellchecking and many other literacy support tools.  The software has recently moved to a new version (version 11.5) which contains brand new features which have fully optimised the software to benefit the user even further.

Read & Write Gold 11.5 has had a redesign of the product logo and toolbar icons which makes the software much easier to navigate. The Vocabulary feature has been introduced to create word lists associated with particular words, for example, volcano, lava and erupt. Other features have been enhanced within the software. The phonetic spell checker now includes the use of collocation and the word prediction tool includes over 150 topic word banks.

Read&Write literacy support software can be downloaded by following this link to Texthelp Read&Write products.


Please comment below to let us know what latest assistive technology products you are excited about this month.

Latest Assistive Technology: Top 5 products in June 2016

Scanning Pens

It can sometimes be difficult to keep up to date with the latest assistive technology products for disabled people. This is why we have created a handy update on the blog at the beginning of each month to give you the latest news. In this month’s update, I look at the top 5 latest assistive technology products you should look out for in June 2016.


Top 5 latest assistive technology products

Many of you have been enquiring about the Exam Reader scanning pen in the past month – we’re not surprised as it really is a great tool for dyslexic students. Like the C-Pen Reader scanning pens, the Exam Reader allows the student to scan over printed text from the exam paper and hear the text read aloud. It features a natural sounding text-to-speech voice and uses impressive optical character recognition (OCR) technology to read aloud printed text.

The latest assistive technology C-Pen scanning pen being used on an exam paper

The digital highlighter has been approved by The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) for use in exams. It comes complete with a headphone jack so other students are not disturbed during the exam. You can find out more about using assistive technology in exams by following this link to the Joint Council for Qualifications Examination Instructions.

Brain in Hand is a cloud-based solution and app which supports autistic children and adults to cope with day-to-day situations. The assistive technology app works on a subscription basis (please contact us for more information and pricing) and provides personalised support for people with autism. The key features include instant access to coping strategies, a diary to help structure time and plans to remember difficult tasks.

Brain in Hand also has a traffic light monitoring system which tracks anxiety levels. If an autistic person taps the red traffic light they will be able to request support from The National Autistic Society. This helps reduce stress and helps to increase confidence in everyday situations.

The Livescribe pens have always been a great tool for dyslexic students. The latest addition to the range is the Livescribe 3 Smartpen which is compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices. The pen works in conjunction with the Livescribe+ app and instantly syncs everything you write on paper directly to your mobile device via Bluetooth. Using the app, your notes become more useful and can be organised, tagged, searched and converted to text. From there you can do almost anything with your notes, for example, simply tap on the text and you can copy this into an email or message.

Typing tutors helps dyslexic children and adults to type quickly and accurately. Nessy Fingers Touch Typing incorporates 9 fun games to practice typing skills. It is the only typing tutor software which introduces keys alphabetically. In five short lessons, you will learn the alphabet.  Each game uses the National Curriculum word lists to practice with and allows the user to win trophies as a reward for accurate typing.

A dyslexic user typing with the latest assistive technology on their computer

Changing paper colour or using reading overlays for dyslexia can be a great reading aid. Irlen® Overlays are backed by over 30 years of research and are 9” x 12” coloured acetate overlays. The overlays are placed over printed materials to help reading and each sheet has a glare and non-glare side for increasing comfort.

The overlays are available in 10 colours and each colour has been carefully determined by Irlen® research. On, we sell 10 Irlen® Coloured Overlays at a sale price of just £19.99 (RRP: £29.99) which allows you to try out all colours and see which colour makes reading more comfortable for you.


Please comment below to let us know what latest assistive technology you are excited about this month.

ABBYY FineReader Answers the Call to Help Students with Learning Challenges

Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning (CALL) Scotland is a unit within the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. It specialises in providing assistive technologies to Scottish students who have physical, communication or sensory difficulties and have trouble accessing standard curriculum materials.


More than 5% of pupils in Scotland need help in accessing the curriculum. the Scottish Government asked the CALL team to investigate how many pupils require books in more accessible formats, which formats were needed and where improvements could be made by using technology. the type of technology was not limited but any solution would need to be cost-effective and work on a large scale to meet the range of support required. out of this research a report was published titled ‘Books for All’.

The ‘Books for All’ project found that the needs of thousands of pupils in Scotland with sight impairments and those with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, or hearing impairment, were not being sufficiently addressed. these pupils often require digital versions that can be read out by a computer or other multimedia resources and ‘Books for All’ found these to be in short supply. To enable a computer to read text aloud it is necessary to scan the book, or other source material, into digital format and then convert the image to editable text. From this intermediate file, the ‘Books for All’ team can produce a variety of accessible formats. However, because the information in these source materials is ‘trapped’ in a format that does not allow for easy editing and reuse – in most cases as paper documents – the team determined they would need an optical character recognition (OCR) software program to read and convert the text within the scans before they could create further materials for students.



The ‘Books for All’ team chose ABBYY FineReader Professional Edition as a best-fit solution for their document conversion needs. ABBYY Finereader is a leading OCR software for converting scanned documents, PDFs and camera images into searchable and editable formats, including Microsoft® word and Excel®. Its advanced recognition capabilities provide full access to information locked on paper and images and virtually eliminates time-consuming retyping and reformatting. ABBYY’s exclusive technology ADRT® (Adaptive Document recognition technology) ensures accurate results not only when recognising single pages of text, but also in multipage documents. It re-creates a document’s logical structure, producing documents with precisely reproduced formatting attributes that will appear as native elements in a Microsoft word document: tables of contents, hierarchical headings, headers and footers, footnotes, page numbers, and font styles.

“We picked ABBYY FineReader for its ability to output in multiple formats and cost effectiveness – both key considerations to making the ‘Books for All’ project a success, helping students with differing disabilities communication, Access, Literacy and Learning (CALL) Scotland is a unit within the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. It specialises in providing assistive technologies to Scottish students who have physical, communication or sensory difficulties and have trouble accessing standard curriculum materials have access to various curriculum material” states Paul Nisbet, Senior research Fellow at CALL Scotland.

CALL Scotland run training courses for staff and faculty members of schools throughout Scotland on how to create accessible books by using ABBYY FineReader software on their laptops. Staff members are walked through the use of FineReader, how to convert scanned curriculum material into editable Microsoft Word documents and how to convert these documents into the formats required for student needs. They now produce the widest range of accessible curriculum materials from sources including reading books, textbooks, exercise worksheets and assessments. the results of this work are Large Print, Adapted Print, Braille, and audio books as well as various accessible digital formats such as Daisy, PDF, word and eBook formats.


One example of the impact the ‘Books for All’ approach has had on the lives of Scottish students are digital versions of Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) exam papers. Previously, a staff member would read the questions aloud to the pupil and then would write down the student’s answers. Now pupils with visual impairment or dyslexia can use text-to-speech to listen to the digital version of the exams, or zoom in on questions in order to more easily read them and those with physical disabilities can work independently to type their answers. The benefits gained from this program have been numerous. Students are more confident, independent and motivated when using digital exam papers. The number of employees required to staff an examination and the associated costs have been greatly reduced. The number of pupils now taking advantage of the Digital Exam papers has doubled year on year since they were first introduced, and in 2010 there were 1,962 requests to SQA for digital papers. CALL Scotland is now trying to raise awareness of the use of accessible books and resources so that pupils throughout Scotland can take advantage of this work. The team are working on a means for sharing existing assistive tools with teachers and students in different schools. The Scottish Government is currently funding work with Learning and teaching Scotland, a non-departmental public body that supports the development of the Scottish curriculum, to expand the ‘Books for All’ database.

​MindGenius: Data visualisation drives improved business processes

MindGenius Ltd announce the release of Version 6 of its leading business mind mapping software.

In a continued drive to utilize the power of data visualisation techniques in business processes, Version 6 focuses on enhancements to the project management, brainstorming, communication and personal productivity capabilities of the application.


Those who manage tasks and projects will benefit from new cost and quantity calculations, the ability to customise the Gantt chart and additional project resourcing capabilities. Seamless integration with a range of cloud storage providers will allow users to save and open files in Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive directly from MindGenius and using the new Word Cloud will enable users to quickly gauge the emerging themes during brainstorming, requirements gathering and other group sessions.

Mapping information allows us to gather and make sense of large amounts and sometimes complex data. MindGenius is the only product to provide a ‘map explorer’ that enables the user to move quickly between high level and detailed views of your information. Version 6 introduces a new ‘pan’ mode to the map explorer that was first introduced in the MindGenius iPad app and found to be of great value on the device.

In addition to a strong set of new features, Version 6 has a completely new look and feel. Based on the latest Microsoft Office 2013 ribbon styling the new interface is less intrusive and makes the map and its’ content stand out during presentations. New branch styles and in-place editing, that replaces the ‘Add Branch’ dialog, make the data capture and map building process much simpler and clearer while projecting and capturing information live.

The uniqueness of MindGenius’ business focus from inception together with over 10 years of further development since first launch makes it the most refined daily use Mind Mapping Software available. Users are able to gather data, ideas and requirements more effectively, visualise information and get insights that allow them to be more organised, plan better projects, make quicker decisions and ultimately improve their productivity.

A cloud version of MindGenius is currently being developed. It will be compatible with and complimentary to Version 6 desktop and will provide remote multi-user collaboration features.

MindGenius Education 6 is available to purchase from here.

‘Dyslexia’ label could determine teachers’ effectiveness

Labelling a child as ‘dyslexic’ could influence a teacher’s belief in their own effectiveness.

Labelling children who have difficulties with reading, such as ‘dyslexia’, could be associated with various beliefs in how effective a teacher can be, according to new research.

Dr Simon Gibbs from Newcastle University and professor Julian Elliott from Durham University set out to investigate how different labels for difficulties with reading influence a teacher’s perception of their effectiveness.

dyslexia-label-could-determine-teachers-effectivenessThe findings of the research are being presented by Mr Gibbs to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Education and Child Psychology between January 7-9th 2015.

To conduct the research, a sample of primary school teachers were recruited and asked to complete two questionnaires surrounding children who were having difficulty with learning to read.

One questionnaire was devised to discover the extent to which teachers believed they could help children effectively. The other questionnaire set out to determine how much the teachers believed that the children’s difficulties were ‘essential’ – in other words, whether or not the difficulties were regarded as having a distinct biological basis.

There were two different versions of the questionnaires – one which discussed ‘dyslexia’ and one which talked about ‘reading difficulties’. A total of 146 teachers responded to the former, while 121 completed the latter.

Upon analysing the responses, the researchers noted a link between the two different labels and the teachers’ beliefs about their efficacy in helping the children.

It was found that the label ‘dyslexia’ was deemed as a fixed disability, with teachers believing their ability to help children with this label was unlikely to change over time.

By contrast, the ‘reading difficulties’ label was viewed as less permanent, which led to teachers believing they would be able to help children with this label and build upon their skills over time.

Mr Gibbs concluded: “These findings challenge the value of labels like ‘dyslexia’, which may be used as shorthand descriptors for the difficulties some children experience.

“These labels may be of illusory benefit because they reduce teachers’ belief in their ability to help the children.”

If your child has difficulty with reading, no matter the label, it is important to help and support them. This can be made easier by assistive technologies, which can boost the reading, writing and comprehensive skills of such youngsters.

(Credit image: Thinkstock/Sergey Nivens)