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5 Tools to Make Note-Taking and Studying Easier for Neurodivergent Students

As awareness of the diversity of ways in which humans think, learn, and communicate grows, no one should be left behind in education or the workplace because of outdated attitudes or tools. Neurodivergent people may face challenges that make note-taking harder, but technology provides many solutions for those who struggle with written information as part of their studies or jobs. These are some of the best reading and writing aids to help people who are neurodivergent.

1. Natural Reader

Natural Reader is text-to-speech software that’s 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 text, webpages, PDFs, and e-books aloud. 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 upload 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 the paid versions of the software to allow you to convert documents to MP3 files and remove time limits if you’re listening to one of the premium voices.

Download: Natural Reader for iOS | Android | Chrome (Free, premium version available)

2. Mindmeister

Mind maps are an effective way to take notes and structure information in a form that suits people who learn visually.

Mindmeister is an online mind mapping tool that is simple, full of useful features, and looks beautiful. Use themes and templates to help you get started, then customize your mind map in various ways. You can embed media, attach files, and add comments and notes.

Mindmeister incorporates 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 continue to work 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 that exist.

Download: Mindmeister for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)

3. Ginger

Ginger is an AI-powered writing assistant that goes beyond checking your spelling and grammar to improve your writing style. Ginger suggests context-based corrections to your writing, making sure synonyms are appropriate so that you won’t end up with comical-sounding sentences!

Ginger can suggest more creative ways to express your ideas as you write. This tool can help speed up your writing, and make it more concise and accurate.

With over 8 million users, Ginger is widely trusted and works across all programs you might need to write in. It is available as both a desktop or mobile app and an add-in to Microsoft Word.

It’s free, but Ginger Premium edition has unlimited usage, a more comprehensive grammar checker, and a translation function.

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 enables you to listen to any document or e-book (except books with DRM protection).

With more than 200 voices in 30 languages, the process of reading is made easy by smooth, synchronized text auto-scrolling as the speech is read.

Comprehensive visual and audio controls give you total control over the look and sound of your books, 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 also use it offline.

Voice Dream Reader is part of a suite of apps. There’s also Voice Dream Writer, an app to help you proofread your writing that speaks your words aloud as you write and provides a live dictionary. And there’s Voice Dream Scanner, a fully-featured OCR app using AI-based text recognition to decipher text from just about any source.

Voice Dream Reader won an Apple Design Award in 2021 and is well-reviewed by users and other tech publications.

Download: Voice Dream Reader for iOS ($24.99) | macOS (Subscription required, free trial available)

5. OpenDyslexic

OpenDyslexic is an open-source font designed to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. It is a brilliant solution for readers who have trouble following the direction of text or struggle with letters swapping or flipping.

You can download the font for free and use it within any program to see whether it helps you decipher the text more easily.

Then, check out some more of the best places to find free fonts that might help your reading and writing.

Apps Can Help Everyone With Note-Taking

There are lots of note-taking apps that can help you, whatever your situation. Some of the most renowned are:

If you need some 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 a range of tools to find the methods that work best for you. And if you find these apps helpful, consider using time-planning tools that might help you focus and make the most of your study sessions.

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