Skip to main content

Information for Students Who Usually Use a Reader or Scribe in Timed Examinations

Reader/Scribe Usage

As you are aware due to the current COVID-19 situation the University will no longer be hosting exams in the current assessment period. This means that students with a recommendation of a reader or a scribe (sometimes referred to as an Amanuensis) will not have this adjustment available. 

For some students if their module is assessed over a 24 hour period with no time restrictions, the extra time to re-read or to type slowly may compensate fully to the difficulty the student experiences, and in other cases using the recommendations below may remove the barriers that this may cause. If this is not the case please contact AccessAbility to discuss Alternative Assessments and/or deferral of exams.

Some students will already have access to specific assistive technology (AT) as a result of their Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). If you are unsure we would recommend revisiting your Study Needs Assessment Report.

The University, in partnership with its alumni community, has created the Success for All Fund to help you if you are experiencing unexpected financial challenges affecting your ability to study.

You may be facing financial hardship; be struggling to pay for IT or a learning disability assessment; or have bills to pay while waiting for your first grant payment to arrive.

All registered undergraduate and postgraduate University of Exeter students are eligible to apply, irrespective of fee-status. Priority will be given to students undertaking their first degree who are from low income households or without family support. The majority of funds are means-tested and you will be asked to provide evidence in support of your application. Please note, funding will not be given to pay your tuition fees.

1. Screen / Text Readers And Text To Voice Apps 


The University of Exeter subscribes to SensusAccess a computer program that can convert research materials into a number of accessible formats For example this can convert PDF files into MP3 format to produce an audio file of the exam script.

Natural Reader

Free text to speech software with its own web browser

Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux (in browser)

Natural Reader is a free text to speech tool that can be used in a couple of ways. The first option is to load documents into its library and have them read aloud from there. This is a neat way to manage multiple files, and the number of supported file types is impressive, including ebook formats. There's also OCR, which enables you to load up a photo or scan of text, and have it read to you.

The second option takes the form of a floating toolbar. In this mode, you can highlight text in any application and use the toolbar controls to start and customize text to speech. This means you can very easily use the feature in your web browser, word processor and a range of other programs. There's also a built-in browser to convert web content to speech more easily.

Text Scanner (OCR) app

OCR-Text Scanner is app to recognize any text from an image with 98% to 100% accuracy. including support for 92 languages. This app will allow you to take a photo or upload your exam script and it will be read aloud.

Benefits: OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology is used to recognize text on image. Available on android and IOS platforms for free of charge

Read and Write by TextHelp

Read and Write is an easy-to-use toolbar makes documents, files and web pages more accessible. Included in this package is a screen reader that can highlight the words as it reads enhancing your working memory it is also available with a variety of voices for ease of listening. This software costs £150 per year subscription but does offer a chance for you to trail the software for 30 days free of charge.

2. Assistance from a 3rd Party

It may be beneficial for you to ask a member of your house hold to act as a reader for you; you may have to give some instructions regarding pronunciation of subject specific vocabulary.

1. In-built Windows Speech Recognition

To turn this feature on, type speech recognition in the search box, and then enable the feature.

When you want to activate this app, all you have to do is say “Start listening” and the microphone activates.

Windows Speech Recognition can both transcribe speech and control your PC. As this software does not learn you voice it can sometime be inaccurate and can struggle with voices that have accents, but it might help record the majority of the text you want to document.

2. In-built Apple Macintosh Speech Recognition

If you are able to update your IOS to the latest operating system (Catalina) you can train your Mac to accurately recognise your voice and accent. If you are unable to update then the Mac will still let you transcribe but as it does not learn you voice it can sometimes be inaccurate and can struggle with voices that have accents.

Choose Apple, System Preferences, Speech. In the Speech Recognition pane, select the On button next to Speakable Items. Use the Microphone menu to select your microphone. Clicking on Calibrate will open a window where you can use the slider to adjust the microphone input level.

3. Dragon Home Individual, v15 (Windows PC only minimum 4GB RAM, 8GB harddrive, better specs produce faster performance)

Dragon by Nuance is the world’s leading speech recognition solution with over two decades of continuous development to meet the needs of the most demanding users. Meet the powerful tools that will make you more productive by unlocking the power of your voice. This software costs £139.99 and for best results should be used with a headset or good quality microphone. Many students already have this recommended as part of their DSA:

4. EquatIO

EquatIO software allows you to create mathematical equations, formulas and more directly on your computer.Simply type, handwrite or dictate any expression, and EquatIO will convert it to accurate digital maths which can be added into a Microsoft Word doc or G Suite apps with a click. This software costs £80 per year subscription but does offer a chance for you to trail the software for 30 days free of charge:

5. Assistance from a 3rd Party 

It may be beneficial for you to ask a member of your household to act as a scribe for you; you may have to give some instructions regarding spellings of subject-specific vocabulary.

The University is working hard to ensure no student with an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) will be disadvantaged.

If you have any questions about the exam process and policies please contact the Coronavirus enquiry team on and they will get back to you. If you have a specific query about your module exam/assessment or timetable please speak to your College Hub Info Point. Please be patient and they will respond to your query as soon as they can.