As awareness of the diversity of ways humans think, learn and communicate grows, no one should be left behind in education or the workplace due to outdated attitudes or tools. Neurodivergent people may face challenges that make it difficult to take notes, but technology offers many solutions for those who struggle with written information as part of their studies or work. Here are some of the best reading and writing aids to help neurodivergent people.
1. Natural Drive
Natural Reader is text-to-speech software available as a mobile app, free download for Mac and Windows, online reader, and Chrome extension.
Natural Reader works on a wide range of documents. Let it read aloud from text, web pages, PDFs and e-books. The software uses OCR to recognize and read text from PNG or JPEG images, so you can simply take a picture of the pages you want to download and start listening.
There are a variety of natural-sounding voices to choose from, and 16 different languages are supported and translated. You can easily select the optimal reading speed for you.
Natural Reader is one of the best free tools available for anyone with reading difficulties or dyslexia. Upgrade to paid versions of the software to let you convert documents to MP3 files and remove time limits if you’re listening to one of the premium voices.
To download: Natural Reader for iOS | Android | Chrome (free and premium version available)
Mind maps are an effective way to take notes and structure information in a form suitable for people who learn visually.
Mindmeister is a simple, feature-packed, and beautiful online mind mapping tool. Use themes and templates to get you started, then customize your mind map in a variety of ways. You can embed media, attach files, and add comments and ratings.
Mindmeister has built-in collaboration features, so you can easily work with others on your projects and studies. And it also includes mobile apps for iOS and Android, so you can keep working wherever you are.
With the free version, you’re limited to three mind maps, so you’ll want to sign up for one of the paid plans to remove the limits and export your projects. If you don’t want to upgrade, check out some of the free mind map tools out there.
To download: Mindmaster for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Ginger is an AI-powered writing assistant that goes beyond checking your spelling and grammar to improve your writing style. Ginger suggests contextual corrections to your writing, making sure synonyms are appropriate so you don’t end up with comic-sounding sentences!
Ginger can suggest more creative ways to express your ideas as you write. This tool can help you speed up your writing and make it more concise and precise.
With over 8 million users, Ginger is widely trusted and works on any program you might need to write in. It is available both as a desktop or mobile application and as an add-on to Microsoft Word.
It’s free, but the Ginger Premium edition has unlimited use, a more comprehensive grammar checker, and a translation feature.
To download: Ginger for iOS | Android | macOS | Windows (Free, subscription available)
4. Voice Dream Reader, Scanner and Writer
Voice Dream Reader is a popular text-to-speech app for iOS and macOS devices. It allows you to listen to any document or e-book (except DRM protected books).
With over 200 voices in 30 languages, the reading process is made easier by smooth, synchronized automatic scrolling of text as the speech is read.
Comprehensive visual and audio controls give you full control over how your books look and sound, and it’s easy to organize documents, highlight text, and add notes. The app syncs with iCloud and works with Apple Watch, and you can use it offline too.
Voice Dream Reader is part of a suite of applications. There’s also Voice Dream Writer, an app to help you proofread your writing that speaks your words out loud as you write and provides a live dictionary. And there’s Voice Dream Scanner, a full-featured OCR app that uses AI-powered text recognition to decipher text from almost any source.
Voice Dream Reader won an Apple Design Award in 2021 and is well reviewed by users and other technical publications.
To download: Voice Dream Reader for iOS ($24.99) | macOS (subscription required, free trial available)
5. Open Dyslexic
OpenDyslexic is an open-source font designed to increase readability for dyslexic readers. It’s a brilliant solution for readers who have trouble following the direction of text or have trouble swapping or flipping letters.
You can download the font for free and use it in any program to see if it helps you decipher text more easily.
Next, check out some of the best places to find free fonts that might help you read and write.
Apps can help everyone take notes
There are plenty of note-taking apps out there that can help you, no matter what your situation. Some of the most renowned are:
If you need more ideas, check out these great free note-taking apps for iPad.
Use technology to help you take notes more easily
Everyone learns and retains information in different ways. It’s worth trying out a range of tools to find the methods that work best for you. And if you find these apps helpful, consider using time-scheduling tools that might help you focus and get the most out of your study sessions.