Devices and Microsoft Office – Assistive technology tools

Accessibility, Inclusion, Assistive technology, Supporting learners, Supporting staff, Workplace learning, Adult and community education, Learning Progressions

Microsoft offers a range of free tools within their products, though what is available and where to find them can differ between Microsoft Office versions. Mobile devices also provide assistive tools.

Mobile devices

Most Apple and Android devices have a text-to-speech option.

For Android devices go to Settings ---> Accessibility ---> Text-to-speech output.

For Apple devices go to Settings ---> Accessibility ---> Spoken Content.

Microsoft Office

Word is the main tool for learners and the tools listed here are found in Word, but are also available in many versions of Excel, Outlook and Teams.

Free as part of your MS package.


Word Dictate is a speech-to-text function that lets you speak to your computer and will type what you are saying. This is useful if you are unable to do large amounts of typing, struggle with spelling, or if you find giving a verbal answer easier than writing it down.

To find Dictate in Word:

  • In the 'Home' tab of Word click the blue microphone button at the top of the screen to turn it on and start speaking.
  • Click the microphone again to stop recording.

Read Aloud

This is a text-to-speech function that acts as a screen reader and reads you the text from your Word document.

This can be useful if you take in information best when hearing it. For example, to listen to assignment questions or information. It is also a very useful tool for proofreading your assignments. When you hear your assignment read out to you, you may be better able to pick up on grammar, sentence or content mistakes.

To use Read Aloud in Word:

  • Open Word in the app (not the browser version).
  • Click on the ‘Review’ tab at the top.
  • Select the 'Read Aloud' icon. This will then read the contents of the page to you.

You are able to change the voice type and speed it reads out with as well.

Immersive Reader

Immersive reader allows you to view and edit a document in a style that suits your needs. You can change the font type, size and spacing as well as the background colour of the page to view and edit, without it changing the look of the main document. You can also access Read Aloud and a screen ruler to help you keep your place.

In most versions of Word you can find Immersive Reader in the View tab.

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