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How can assistive technology help me as a writer?

21 July 2021

Hi, I’m Layne Dixon, I’m 19 years old, and living with Cerebral Palsy. I’ve had a tough time through high school, and this motivated me to become a disability and inclusion advocate. I volunteer for YDAN – Youth Disability Advocacy Network, and I write regularly on my website about my experience with having a disability, sharing insight on disability rights, as well as writing about access and inclusion as a young disabled person. I use assistive technology throughout my everyday life, but for this blog, I’m going to talk to you specifically about the tools and apps I use including Ghotit, audiobooks and trackpads which all assist me as a writer.

A lady sits at a computer and smiles brightly.

Since I was a kid, I didn't like reading because it was not accessible to me. Yes, I can read, but I can't remember what I've read. Over the past four months, I have gotten into listening to audiobooks, and it has changed my life. 
People say, “to be a good writer, you need to read, read, read.” I never really knew what that meant until now. People get their inspiration from many different things, and writers get most of their inspiration from what they read, whether this is through another book, a blog, journal or an article. 

I thought this meant that writers needed to physically read things to be a good writer, but in the 21st century this doesn’t need to be the case. Thanks to technology, I listen to audiobooks and articles/blogs which I can access online through the read-to-speech application. Through this, I get ideas for my blogs, and I believe that I get the same benefit a non-disabled person does if they read a blog or an article, rather than listening to it.

I use Audible to read my books, but you can also purchase audiobooks in iBooks or rent them out at BorrowBox, an online platform which is available for everyone who is a member of a library in Western Australia. 
Ghotit is a program that people use to spell and grammar check any errors one might come across within the document. As someone who relies on technology for her work, I need a program like Ghotit to check my blogs, articles and TAFE work before submitting or publishing it. Once you have typed out a word, this program can read it back to you. Ghotit can also grammar check any sentences and paragraphs that you have written. 

Close up shot of hands typing on a computer.Since I purchased this software last year, it has been a game-changer for me. Like audio books, I rely on both my hearing and seeing to edit what I have written.

My writing has improved dramatically with this software, as there are not many errors in my work anymore. I'm currently using ghotit-10N, but there are many versions of this program that you can purchase, which you can check out here. 
For as long as I can remember, I never liked using computers because of the mouse. A lady uses a trackpad at a computer at the library.Having Cerebral Palsy, my fingers have a mind of their own and shake a lot. This makes it very difficult for me to use things like the mouse, as I could never put it on the right icon. Due to this, I have always struggled using a mouse. In primary school, I used a laptop to keep up with my fellow peers, and I guess that I got used to the trackpad on the laptop.
During the first wave of Covid-19, my parents set up a study area for me, which included having a computer. I ended up convincing mum to get me a trackpad, as I knew I wouldn't use the computer without it. Within the first couple months of having this, I was glad that I made this decision. Once I started using the trackpad, I felt a lot more comfortable with using computers, and it’s easier for me to complete the things that I need to do.

A lady smiles brightly and stands in front of bookshelves with her hands in her pockets.

During the summer, I was working as an Arts Management Trainee for the Perth Festival. I gained experience both in the marketing and production side of the festival. During this time, we worked on computers in the office. I tried my Apple trackpad on one of their computers, but it didn't work. I use an Apple computer at home, but in the office, they use a Microsoft computer. Not long after I started the traineeship, I bought a Microsoft keyboard that had the trackpad attached to it. This works as well as the trackpad I had. My parents and I looked for a Microsoft trackpad, but I haven’t found any that works for me yet.
If you're struggling with a mouse and you are thinking of purchasing a trackpad, I would highly recommend the following: 
Apple trackpad 
Microsoft keyboard and trackpad 

As a writer, I rely heavily on these assistive technologies to make sure I perform to my best. Through my writing, I amplify my voice to talk about disability and inclusion. In fact, without these assistive technologies, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, which would stop me from being Layne! I hope you’ve found this blog insightful and helpful. If you want to follow my story you can at

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