Toolkit: Adaptive Research Tools

By Dana McCullough Premium

When you can’t make out pages of print or hear what librarians and clerks are saying to you, your rising frustration level can zap all the fun out of genealogy research. These free or low-cost assistive technology apps will help you better read genealogy documents, hear what other genealogists or relatives have to say, and make your research more enjoyable.
App   Price  Device  Key Features  Genealogy Uses
Another Lens
free Windows PC
  • Magnifies the area surrounding your cursor on the computer screen
  • Takes screenshots and saves content to a file 

Use on your home computer while researching online genealogy records.


free Android and iOS
  • Captions your smartphone conversations in real time
Use when calling archives or conducting oral family history interviews by phone. Note: The FCC requires a one-time $75 access fee if users don’t already use a captioning phone
Dragon Dictation

free  iOS


  • Transcribes what you (or others) say into your iPhone or iPad microphone
  • Sends caption via text message or email


Ask a librarian or clerk to talk into the mic to see captions of what was said. Speaking punctuation avoids captions that are long, run-on sentences.
free Android and iOS
  • Enlarges touchscreen keys
  • Enhances predictive text to improve typing

Use it to write emails, social media posts and more if you have impaired vision or trouble using those tiny touchscreen keyboards. 

iHear Hearing Aid

free  iPhone
  • Boosts sound around you to help you hear (headphones required)
This could come in handy at a genealogy conference, at libraries or archives, or talking with relatives.
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 free Windows PC    
 Magnifying Glass with Light

$1.99  iOS
  • Magnifies text using iPhone or iPad camera
  • Uses camera’s flash to illuminate documents

Great for making small type larger or for taking a closer look at old photos. Skip the free version, which lacks most features. 

Your Magnifier

$2.99 Android


  • Magnifies text using Android camera
  • Uses flash to illuminate document


Use for looking at books, newspapers or old family photos.

From the May/June 2014 Family Tree Magazine