LivAbility Magazine
The top half of an iPhone with the article’s title, Apps for Academia, written on it in light blue letters.

By Gene Heppard with Marguerite MacKrell

Thanks to the ever-changing and evolving world of technology, students can use a mobile device as their main tool to access information – online library databases, websites and videos.

As a seasoned administrator in postsecondary education, I have witnessed students with disabilities using technology in and out of the classroom. For many, technology has become another form of accommodation. Here are a few apps that may help to bridge that gap and allow for a more level playing field.

(Note: LivAbility has not tested these apps.)

Notability App logo: A pencil with a microphone in place of its eraser, on a blue background designed to look like a notebook.


Notability is a $7.99 note-taking and PDF annotation app on the Apple App Store. This app allows students (and anyone else) to take notes, sketch ideas, annotate PDFs, mark-up photos, record lectures, provide audio feedback and more. It is uniquely designed for each device to provide the best note-taking experience at school, at home and at work. And with iCloud, your notes are always up to date.

Tecla Access App logo: Two blue arcs and one black arc that make a trapezoid shape.

Tecla Access

Tecla Access is a free Android app that allows people with disabilities hands-free access to mobile devices. Users can wirelessly operate these devices with their power wheelchairs through buttons, sip-and-puff controllers, joysticks, etc. The app also allows voice commands. The Google Play Store has a link with detailed installation instructions:

RogerVoice App logo: A white pilot’s helmet with a microphone inside a green speech bubble.


RogerVoice is available free on both Android’s Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. It provides a written transcript of phone conversations for people with hearing impairments. It transforms phone calls into instant live messages, working in real time. The app also allows people to type a response in text, which the app will convert to speech, useful for those with disabilities impacting speech. RogerVoice requires an internet connection to work.

aDyslexia App logo: An upside-down lowercase white letter A on a teal background.


aDyslexia is a free app available on the Apple App Store. It is designed to help people with dyslexia to read e-books in PDF format and browse the web by modifying text to make it more legible. You can set your own preferences via built-in settings to customize how an e-book or a web page is displayed. Additionally, the app has a built-in text-to-speech synthesis with many supported languages.

Stepping Stones App logo: Four progressively smaller light gray rocks on a dark blue background.

Stepping Stones: Daily Routines

Stepping Stones is available on the Apple App Store for $0.99. Designed for anyone who works best with visuals, it lets people use photos they have taken to create guides or schedules, called “paths”. Users can make step-by-step guides for a specific task or full schedules. The visual elements help break down a task into its various parts, making it easier for users to tackle it one step at at a time.

ListNote App logo: A blue-covered book with several tabs sticking out of the right side.

ListNoteSpeech-to-Text Notes

This free Android app converts the user’s speech into text for easier note taking. The user can then edit those notes when convenient. People who have difficulty typing quickly and accurately on their keyboards can use ListNote to take notes and organize them on their own time.

OCR App logo: The white letters O, C and R over a red book on a dark gray background.

OCR Instantly Free

OCR Instantly Free is a free Android app that converts images of text into easily legible words for people with dyslexia or impaired vision. The app does not work with handwriting, but can recognize printed text in over 60 languages. There is also a Pro version with more features for $7.99.

Image of Gene Heppard

Gene Heppard

Gene Heppard, MA is the Director of Disability Resources & Services and TRiO Programs at Phoenix College. He previously worked at Arizona State University and Mesa Community College. Gene firmly believes in the opportunities available for achieving a higher education degree.