Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology: What is it? What does it accomplish?

This page is currently undergoing revisions for better service. It's a work-in-progress, and not all links are current. Please contact NJ Brand for assistance. 05/05/2023

What is it?

  • Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
  • Assistive technology is also known as adaptive technology, however, the term ‘assistive’ is broader and more inclusive.
  • ICT means Information and Communications Technology. ICT replaces Electronic and Information Technology (IET) used in the original law. The ICT does include Assistive Technologies.


What does it accomplish?

  • The need for assistive technology is to lessen or remove barriers faced by persons with disabilities. Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
  • Assistive technology can empower people to do things for themselves.


Assisted Services that may be available to the learning disabled are provided according to the student's individual needs. Possible services include:

  • Alternative format books
  • Testing
  • Training for use of computer with adapted software/hardware

To obtain further information regarding these services, make an appointment with your ADA Counselor or with NJ Brand, ADA Technician.

Below is a list of Assistive Technology available for use in the Assistive Technology labs, classrooms, or open technology labson campus. Demonstrations of the software and hardware are available by request. Follow any provided links to visit the vendors' websites for more information. Feel free to contact your ADA Counselor for further information.

The list is in two sections, Software and Hardware @ HCCS. To locate assistive technologies on campus, contact the Ability Support Services office at your campus or the Assistive/Adaptive Technology technicians: Norma Jean Brand at 713-718-5604 or John London at 713-718-6629.

Some of the hardware can be checked out through the Library.

A third section, Outside Assistive/Adaptive Resources, is provided as a courtsey only.

ADA Technicians:

Normajean Brand email:

John London email:


Assistive Software @ HCCS

Ally - Easy as 1-2-3

We have a new tool called Ally available in Eagle Online (Canvas) that allows you to download your instructor’s original course files in different formats that work for your different devices, learning needs, and preferences. Alternative files include readable text for screen readers, pictures with captions, ePubs, easy-to-navigate content, and more. Alternative formats benefit everyone no matter what your learning style is. You don’t have to stick to just one format! Use as many formats as you want, as often as you want. (Download speed will depend on the file size.)

NOTE: Ally does not provide downloads or alternative formats for courses that use third-party publisher content. Contact your professor for additional help with alternative formats for publisher content.

Microsoft Office 365 or Desktop Apps 2019. All students have access to Microsoft Office 365 online through their HCC Student Email. They can work online in any of the applications and save their documents/files to either their personal hard drive or save to their OneDrive in their student email access. If they choose, they can also download the desktop applications to their personal desktop or laptop and use it like they would any other app. The ability to do either gives the student a multitude of ways to use and save Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and OneNote. Microsoft now has new accessibility tools built-in to Word and PowerPoint with Dictate and Immersion Reader tools.



Dragon Speech Recognition – this software allows the user to create and edit documents and E-mail, fill out forms and streamline workflow. Dragon offers complete hands-free use of the PC for users with disabilities – all by speaking! Transform your ideas into text at the speed of thought. Simply speak and watch your words appear on the screen 3x faster than typing by hand, and with up to 99% recognition accuracy. Dictate homework assignments, write a blog, complete your to-do lists with Full Text Control in Microsoft Word®; send email in Microsoft Outlook® or Gmail. Don’t let typing, touch screen PCs, spelling or the fear of the blank page slow you down. You talk, Dragon types.

You can find Dragon in some computer labs, or check with your ADA Counselor for locations. HCC can not install Dragon on your personal computers.

Microsoft Office 365 - Word, specifically, now has a built-in Dictate that allows you to talk, and Word types for you.
(Note: Microsoft purchased Dragon and has implemented in Microsoft Office 365 Word!)


Blind/Visually Impaired

* HCC has partnered with Freedom Scientific to provide our students with free access for JAWS, ZoomText and Fusion with a valid HCC student email address. You can download the most current software to your personal home computer or laptop from Freedom Scientific.

Fusion combines two world-class accessibility programs: JAWS and ZoomText.

Fusion™ is the ultimate accessibility tool for individuals with any level of vision impairment. Fusion provides the best of both worlds – ZoomText®, with its screen magnification (up to 60x) and visual enhancements for screen viewing ease, coupled with the power and speed of JAWS® for screen reading functionality. By blending ZoomText and JAWS together, Fusion has flexible, high-quality speech using Eloquence and Vocalizer Expressive, powerful keyboard access including navigation on the web, and a wide range of customization options. With Fusion, the user has the flexibility to run JAWS and ZoomText together as “Fusion”; or run JAWS and ZoomText independently.

JAWS® for Windows® - the most popular screen reader worldwide works with your PC to provide access to today’s software applications and the Internet. With its internal software speech synthesizer and the computer’s sound card, information from the screen is read aloud, providing technology to access a wide variety of information, education and job related applications. JAWS also outputs to refreshable braille displays, providing unmatched braille support of any screen reader on the market.

ZoomText® Magnifier/Reader -The world's best magnification and reading software for the vision impaired. Whether you're surfing the web, creating a document or mailing your friends, ZoomText lets you see, hear and use all of your applications easier than ever.

Kurzweil 1000 - Kurzweil 1000 makes printed or electronic text accessible to people with blindness and visual impairments, speaking text aloud in a variety of natural-sounding voices that can be modified for individual preferences, combining traditional reading machine technologies such as scanning, image processing, and text-to-speech with communication and productivity tools.


Learning Challenges

Kurzweil 3000 - an assistive technology, text to speech, learning tool that supports the concept of Universal Design for Learning with a suite of powerful reading, writing, test-taking, and study skill tools that makes curriculum accessible to all students. It is particularly appropriate for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, those who require reading intervention, students struggling with reading comprehension and English Language Learners (ELL). Students can access content and common literacy supports from any device or computer (Mac or PC) with Internet access. Kurzweil 3000 can read text in Word, PDF, ePub, RTF, DAISY, HTML; and, easily read content on the web with the Kurzweil plugin for Chrome or Firefox, or the iPad app. Basic math can be read aloud with Kurzweil 3000's Talking Calculator.



Assistive/Adaptive Hardware @ HCCS

All Assistive and Adaptive equipment @HCCS is on a first-come-first-serve basis.

  • Headsets for use with voice output for computers (screen reader software with sound card)
  • Computer screen enlargement software and large monitors
  • Mouse alternatives such as trackballs, touchpads, and joysticks
  • Alternative keyboard arrangements for single-hand typing
  • Ergonomic and other special keyboards
  • ALD/FM loop assistive listening devices
  • Video magnification systems (desktop style CCTVs) (portable Topaz and Ruby CCTVs can be checked out through the Libraries.)
  • Alternative classroom furniture, including adjustable height desks and chairs

Some equipment, such as hand-held magnifiers, tape recorders, electronic spelling aids, and wrist rests are considered personal equipment. Ability Services or the ADA Techs can help you identify sources for such equipment.

 Library Accessibility Resources

Accessible Resources for Your Research

Many online library resources come with accessibility options to meet the needs of students and faculty with disabilities. These options are augmented by software and devices available in the libraries.

You may be required to submit a current semester accommodation letter (LOA) prior to checking out ADA equipment from the Library.


Alternate Media Requests @HCCS

For assistance with obtaining instructional materials, textbooks, etc. please see the Alternate Format Textbook Request page.


Outside Assistive/Adaptive Resources

Work in progress. If you would like to suggest a resource for consideration, please contact Norma Jean Brand at


Accessibility and Digital Security

 A guide to cybersecurity for people with vision loss, hearing loss or a disability.



The information provided by external resources - including third-party websites - is designed to provide helpful information on topics and community resources. HCC does not endorse or accept responsibility for the content, use, or availability of resources provided by external websites or agencies. HCC makes no representations as to the eligibility of any particular student to receive any benefit or the effects – such as those impacting immigration status – that accepting a resource may have on a student. Students in populations that may have specific additional needs are encouraged to seek advice from a relevant professional or reputable resources, such as immigration counsel or a qualified website.

Contact Us!

Norma Jean Brand

ADA Techs @HCCS:

Norma Jean Brand 713-718-5604 @ Spring Branch Campus and virtual

John London 713-718-6629 @ Central Campus