Assistive Technology

What is Assistive Technology (AT)?

Assistive Technology (often abbreviated as AT) is an umbrella term for a piece of equipment, software, or product that can assist people with disabilities to perform tasks more easily or independently.

Assistive Technology at Duke

It can be difficult to find the right piece of assistive technology to meet the needs of every person. At Duke, we strive to provide a wide range of available technologies to address such needs. Here is a list of some of the accessible software, hardware, and equipment available for demonstration or loan:

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking - Voice recognition software
  • JAWs - Screen reading software
  • SensusAccess - Document conversion tool (create alternative, accessible versions of files)
  • Read&Write Gold - Text-to-Speech tool within a comprehensive literacy software
  • ZoomText Software - Screen magnification software
  • Livescribe Echo SmartPen - Assistive note taking device that links audio recordings to your handwritten notes
  • Assistive Listening Devices - Small and large group FM and RF systems
  • Digital Recorders
  • Optelec ClearView CCTV - Magnifies anything placed under it from 2x to 85x its original size

To discuss what type of technology may be right for you, please contact 919-668-1267 to schedule a technology training or demonstration appointment.


The ADA Study room) is located on the first floor of Perkins Library in Room 127. This room is available to students who are registered with the SDAO and are eligible to receive the use of this room and its assistive technologies. For further information and any questions please email 

Assistive Listening Systems

Duke provides classrooms/auditoriums with permanently installed assistive listening systems. Receivers can be borrowed, free of charge, from either the venue itself, or from the Disability Management System directly.

Alternative Media Tools

Disability Management System (DMS) provides alternative format materials for eligible students when possible and in accordance with all copyright laws and exceptions. Every attempt is made to provide alternative format in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Books in Accessible Formats

The SDAO provides students with disabilities books in various alternative formats such as, but not limited to, electronic, accessible electronic, large print, and braille. The SDAO searches various databases and utilizes outside vendors to provide alternative formats for students approved for this accommodation. Students approved to receive textbooks/required readings in alternative electronic format are encouraged to purchase electronic textbooks (E-books) when available. Many electronic books are available for free at and/or Get more information about books in alternative format by contacting the Director of Assistive Technology and Digital Media, Ashley Lunn to schedule an appointment. 

Converting Documents with SensusAccess

DMS also uses software (SensusAccess) that converts documents online from text or image-based files into different formats, such as searchable PDFs, audio, Braille, or e-text. The completed conversion document will be delivered via email. SensusAccess is available to all Duke staff, students, and faculty with a Duke University email address. Please note that the quality of the converted document depends on the quality of the original document. For example, a clearly structured Word document will yield a better result than a poorly scanned PDF.

Please contact DMS at 919.668.1267 or if you have any questions.

Convert a Document

Use SensusAccess's RoboBraille tool to convert a document to an alternative, accessible format. Follow four easy steps to have your document converted into an alternative, accessible format. The result is delivered in your email inbox. You may upload one or more files, enter a URL to a file, or simply type in the text you wish to have converted.

Discuss your AT options with DMS

Employees and students of Duke that are registered with either the Disability Management System (DMS) can call 919-668-1267 to discuss what types of AT may be useful for work or school.