AutiPlan: App of the Week

November 20, 2017

Keeping all of your plans straight can be very stressful, so having some structure and predictability in your life can be extremely helpful! Visual scheduling with pictograms is proven to be helpful for many students by reducing stress and anxiety. Using the free Android app AutiPlan, you can enter your day-to-day activities and you can either print out the schedule or have a notification appear on your phone when it’s time for the next task!

Not only does this work on an Android or Tablet, but you can also access it on your computer! Easily and quickly putting together a schedule using the schedule editor, schedule templates, and automatic repetitions.

Also, if you have an iphone or ipad, check out the app “Visual Schedule Planner”. This is also a completely costomizable visual schedule. The app is actually designed to reduce your anxiety with transitioning from tast to task and provides a simple way to visually represent your day.

The “Visual Schedule Planner” app does cost $14.99 but can be an extremely helpful tool if you have trouble managing your schedule. We all have those occasional late nights and early mornings where you wake up groggy and have trouble getting started with the day. Having a visual aid to to tell you exactly what to do is the perfect solution. So if you’re in need of an app that can help you plan out your day visually, check out “AutiPlan” or “Visual Schedule Planner”.


orbiTouch – A keyless keyboard

November 13, 2017

The world of computers is pretty exciting: sitting at a desk, pushing down keys, moving a piece of plastic and pressing a plastic pad while blue light from your monitor illuminates your desk. Who wouldn’t want to do that all day?

Some individuals can’t use a mouse and a keyboard because of mental or physical impairments. But there’s a piece of assistive technology that was designed for people with these impairments to an alternate way to use a computer! It’s called the orbiTouch.


Wow! Look at those domes!


The orbiTouch is a keyboard that does not rely on clicking small keys packed together on a QWERTY keyboard, but rather a combination of hand gestures to input letters and commands.

This keyboard removes the pain induced by using the fingers and wrists to type, and reduces the impact of typing related strains and injuries. The orbiTouch also empowers people to use a computer in a more accommodating manner. By replacing the act of typing using fine-motor skills with typing using a wider range of arm movements, the keyboard allows individuals with fine motor impairments and/or hand related disabilities to communicate.


How does it work?

  • Instead of having its own individual keys, letter and characters are grouped in distinct sets around the edge of the left dome. Each letter or command in a set has a different color. The right dome has different colors around the edge.
  • You slide one dome to select a grouping and the other dome to select a color.
  • The keyboard will then input the letter that matches the color and grouping to the computer.
  • To input the next character, you only have to re-center one of the two domes. This allows the user to input multiple letters while only changing one dome position.


If, for example, you wanted to spell the word “yo-yo”, you would select the grouping with “Y” in it, and the color purple. The next letter is “O”, which is also in purple, so only the grouping/left dome needs to be re-centered. While holding the right dome that has the color purple selected, slide the left dome to the “O” grouping to insert the letter “O”. To finish the word, you must change both dome positions to input a dash, in blue, and repeat the previous combinations. By grouping the letters and numbers in a manner that is logical and easy to distinguish, people with autism/autistic people have an easier time learning and typing with the orbiTouch than on a typical keyboard.

Studies had shown that the extent of the learning curve was dependent on the amount of time spent practicing with the keyboard. In this study, the learning curve was minimal for users with autism/autistic users, who were able to type faster on the orbiTouch keyboard in 15 hours than on a QWERTY keyboard in 200 hours.


The study shows that orbiTouch enables people with autism to type faster than they would on a QWERTY keyboard.

Twilight: App of the Week

November 6, 2017

The Twilight App Logo

Twilight is a health and wellness app for Android products.

Reading on Screens in Dim Lighting

Twilight allows your screen backlight to be lowered far beyond the ability of the backlight controls on your device. As a result, your eyes won’t have to strain as much when trying to read in poorly lit settings!

Have trouble falling asleep?

Some studies have suggested that exposure to blue light before going to bed may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Twilight can help prevent this by changing the screen lighting based on the time of day. This way, by the time it’s night, the screen will have adjusted to have a red filter and a dimmer screen!


If you’re in a hurry to adjust the Twilight settings, just swipe down to view your device’s notifications. Clicking on the Twilight notification will allow you to quickly pause or change your current settings without having to open up the full app.


The paid version of Twilight allows you to create profiles! In other words, you can set up a profile for simply reading on your phone in the living room, another profile for reading before bed, and yet another for being out late. Once the profiles are created, you can quickly switch between them instead of having to adjust each setting manually!


If you want to learn more, check out the free Twilight by Urbanandroid Team here.For even more features, check out the $2.99 app Twilight Pro Unlock here. If you’re looking for something similar on your iOS device, check out Apple’s own Night Shift mode here. Windows users will want to check out the f.lux app here, and maybe even read a previous post on the app here!

World Usability Day New England at UConn

October 30, 2017

By Meghan Palumbo


On November 9th, countries across the world will join in celebrating World Usability Day. World Usability Day is a worldwide recognition of how technology affects people’s lives and how it can be used to make the world more efficient.

World Usability Day Logo

World Usability Day (WUD) has been celebrated every year on the second thursday of November since its beginnings in 2005. WUD gathers people of all different backgrounds, including professionals, citizens, students, and educators, to collaborate and share ideas surrounding technology. The goal of WUD is to celebrate the progress that has been made in using technology to make life easier and to educate people about how usability influences their everyday lives.


World Usability Day is working towards a world in which technology assists people in all parts of their lives as effectively as possible, including education, health, government, communications, privacy, and entertainment. Technology should not be a source of frustration for people; it should instead be used as a helpful tool to make their lives easier. World Usability Day aims to share how technology can benefit people’s lives and create a better world for everyone.


This year, over 36 events in 18 countries across the world will be recognizing World Usability Day! Each year has a different theme. World Usability Day 2017 will focus on inclusion through user experience. Past topics have included healthcare, sustainability, communication, and innovation.

World Usability Day New England image

Every year, New England celebrates World Usability Day with a large conference called World Usability Day New England (WUDNE), which hosts many different speakers giving exciting and informative presentations.


This year, WUDNE is being held at UConn’s Storrs campus! Join us on November 9th in the Student Union for a day of compelling presentations and exhibitors. Attend presentations on innovative topics ranging from how augmented reality can benefit the blind to how assistive technology can be used in preschools to strategies for accommodating mental health disabilities. Exhibitors at the event will include Texthelp, Kurzweil Education, Blackboard Inc., and more.

An aerial view of the UConn Storrs campus
An aerial view of the UConn Storrs campus

Register for WUNDE 2017 at UConn here and read more about World Usability Day across the world here!



October 24, 2017

Have you ever recorded your class lecture and then spent countless hours listening to the playback? Have you desperately wished that you could just skim a transcription of the audio?

Speech-To-Text software—a program that will transcribe pre-recorded audio to text—is a request we at the CSDTech Team get a lot! Many of you are familiar with our Text-To-Speech programs from some of our blog posts such as Read&Write, Kurzweil, and built in Mac and Windows readers. However, a holy grail of notetaking still waits to be surmounted—Speech-To-Text. Unfortunately, accurate voice-to-text transcribing is a huge and unsolved engineering problem. In fact, in professional settings, such as a court hearing where every word must be kept in accurate text records, human transcribers are still used!

However, we shall not give up hope! The CSDTech team sat down together to brainstorm free solutions for CSD students to try out for the most accurate notetaking transcription we can provide!

Software the CSD Offers Free

1) Google Voice Typing

If you play your phone into your computer mic, Google Voice Typing can recognize the audio and type the recording. This program is not perfect. When we tested this solution, we found we had to slow down the audio to half the tempo before Google Voice Typing could keep up. However, we still had to double check everything to make sure Google transcribed correctly.


Here is how to use Google to transcribe your Echo Smartpen audio files.

  • Open up a new Google Doc from your UConn Gmail account.
  • On the top toolbar, navigate Tools>>Voice Typing…
  • Take your Smartpen and play the audio from it into your computer. We found that normal-speed audio is too fast for Google Voice Typing to keep up, so we need to slow the playback speed down. On either the bottom of your notebook, or on a separate bookmark, look for an option to reduce playback speed. Put it on the lowest setting.

Bookmark with Echo smarpen controls

  • Monitor the speech recognition. As the audio plays from the Smartpen into your computer, be sure to listen to the recording and follow along with what is being typed. Pause the recording frequently to allow Google Voice Typing to keep up, and allow yourself to edit as you go.


2) Sonocent Audio Recorder

Sonocent is a software that listens to audio and puts it into smaller, more manageable chunks, which you can play back and listen to as much as you need! The software listens to natural pauses in the speech and chunks the audio. People pause longer when they are changing topics. By using Sonocent, you can write about a one idea at a time and work at a pace you’re comfortable with.

Sonocent interface screen. The audio is organized on the left.

3) Dragon Voice Recognition

Dragon is a software that you train to recognize your voice. The training allows Dragon to be about as accurate as speech to text can possibly get with today’s technology. You can play your audio recording into Dragon software and have it try to type your file. This software is only on CSD computers, so you will have to visit the Storrs office to use it.


4) Notetaking Express

This service hires professional note-takers to create an outline of any audio recording uploaded to the site. Since professional note-takers (not artificial intelligence) are listening to the recording, the content is more accurate. However, this is not a word-for-word transcription. Notetaking Express is only for lecture outlines.

Technology offered Outside of CSD

This audio recorder works with Dragon software. Whatever the device records, it transcribes. This is not perfect, and works best for voices that the software was trained on

  • Alternate Speech-To-Text

There is a multitude of audio transcribers on the market. Dragon is the leading brand name for transcribers, but there may be cheaper alternatives available that you can find. No accurate speech-to-text transcribers are free.

Join us for the 5th Annual Care Package Drive!

October 18, 2017

The UConn Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs has initiated its 5th Annual Care Package Drive! 
At CSD, we will be placing collection boxes in our office, where the collected items will be donated to shelters which provide housing, training, job placement, and other services to the homeless and those in need with a focus on veterans. Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport has worked with 1100 veterans to date. Southpark Inn in Hartford hosts a veteran drop in every Thursday to distribute needed items, serve hot food and support VA programs. They also have 10 transitional living units dedicated to veterans. Through a partnership with the Hartford Police, some of the donated items will be delivered directly to those who live on the streets. The items can be dropped off in Wilbur Cross Room 204 or  Arjona Room 343 between November 13th and December 8th!

For recommended collection items, please see the following list: Homes for the Brave Wish List

Please feel free to email or or call 860-486-5078 with any questions!

Apply for the Spring 2018 Beyond Access Scholarship!!!

October 11, 2017

Beyond Access Scholarship Opportunity!!!

The Center for Students with Disabilities is pleased to announce that for the spring 2018 semester, we will be offering two scholarships, each in the amount of $500, to be awarded to first-year students who have a learning disability and wish to participate in the Center’s Beyond Access Program. The Beyond Access program is an opportunity for students to work smarter, not harder, in a competitive academic environment while also preparing for the life beyond college. The program offers a wide range of services that are individualized and designed to help students realize their academic and personal goals. We invite you to learn more about our Beyond Access programs please visit and click on the following link: UConn CSD Beyond Access.


Applicants must be current University of Connecticut (UConn) students and must be enrolled in at least six credits. Applicants must also be first-year students at UConn who have a documented learning disability.  These one-time scholarships are for participation in the Beyond Access program for the spring 2017 semester. Students from all campuses are encouraged to apply; however, Beyond Access is a Storrs based program. Please note, this scholarship will not cover the entire cost of Beyond Access, but can be used towards the full cost of participation.


If you are a need-based financial aid recipient (loans, grants, work-study student employment) your financial aid package may be revised as a result of this award.  Please contact the Office of Financial Aid at 860-486-2819 to discuss this further.


Deadline for submission is January 10, 2018



Students applying for one of the Beyond Access scholarships must be University of Connecticut students enrolled in at least six credits. Students must also be first-year students and have a documented learning disability.

Process for Applying

  • Complete the following application by January 10, 2018: BA Scholarship Application 2018
  • Provide a written statement on how participation in the Beyond Access Program will help you reach your academic and/or personal goals. Your statement should also address why you would not be able to participate in the program without the aid of this scholarship.
  • Submit completed application and essay to :
    Christine Wenzel, Assistant Director
    Center for Students with Disabilities
    Wilbur Cross Building, Room 204
    Glenbrook Road, U-4174
    Storrs, CT 06269-4174


Award Procedure

  1. Applications will be reviewed by a committee made up of representatives from the following departments: The Center for Students with Disabilities, The Center for Career Development, and the Office of Student Services& Advocacy.
  2. Scholarship recipients will be determined based on need as well as how they feel the Beyond Access program can benefit them.
  3. Scholarship recipients will be notified via email by January 15, 2018.
  4. Once the request is received, the student’s enrollment will be verified and financial aid status will be reviewed. Financial aid status will have no bearing on the granting of an award but must be reviewed in advance to ensure that the receipt of this gift would not adversely impact the student’s aid package.


Husky Forever Weekend – CSD 50th Anniversary Open House/Brunch

The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) will be participating in the Husky Forever Weekend as Team CSD! The CSD will also be inviting alumni, friends, and family to join us after the 5k race for a brunch and open house in celebration of our Center’s 50th anniversary!

The CSD is located in room 204 of the Wilbur Cross building. Attendees are encouraged to register for this FREE event:

Date and Time:

October 22, 2017


University of Connecticut
233 Glenbrook Road, Unit 4174
Wilbur Cross Building, Room 204
Storrs, CT  06269-4174