Day 5 - Assistive technology apps and other useful links

Logo for Day 5 Assistive Technologies are tools, including software, which enable a user to access a resource which otherwise would be inaccessible. For example a user who is partially sighted may struggle to view all aspects of a digital document however by utilising a Screen Reader they can listen to all the information included in the document, removing the barrier of inaccessibility. 

If the previous tips listed in the blog series are applied to your resources, a user of assistive technologies will generally be able to interact with your materials.

Types of specialist assistive technology software

Text to Speech Readers
are designed to support sighted users with Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) for example Dyslexia or Dyspraxia – The user can listen to text in documents or webpages by hovering over or selecting text with the mouse or keyboard.

Screen Readers
are designed for partially sighted or blind users. The software reads all elements of the page and includes all functionality via keyboard shortcuts. The access is often referred to as a Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA).

Magnifiers
enable the screen to be enlarged in a variety of ways and the text reflowed to reduce the need for horizontal scrolling. The software also changes the contrast and colour of the page to maximise access to the resource.

Mind Mapping
software supports those with organisational, time management and sequencing difficulties enabling thoughts and learning to be communicated in an understandable manner which is easy follow. This software is often used by those with specific learning differences such as Autism, Dyslexia or Dyspraxia.

Screen Overlay and Ruler
  
software covers the screen area with a coloured transparent overlay of the user’s choice, improving the reading experience for all items displayed. The screen can also be masked to isolate the areas being read or underlined like a ruler. This is useful for those with specific learning differences, particularly Autism, Dyslexia, or Dyspraxia, or partially-sighted users to focus on the area of focus and ease reading.

Dictation
software enables the user to speak and the computer type the spoken words, this tool can support a wealth of users including those with motor skills impairments.

The table below gives an indication of how assistive tools (AT) can be used to support specific user needs:

Table showing how assistive tools can support specific user needs

Free Assistive Tools

Assistive software can be expensive to purchase, however there are now many free software tools, browser extensions and apps which provide effective support to a wide range of users.

AT Bar is free and allows you to change the look and feel of webpages, increase and decrease font sizes, have text read aloud, use coloured overlays, readability and a dictionary to aid reading. Spell check forms and try word prediction when writing. It is a simple tool which is available for most popular browsers

Screenshot of AT Bar webtool

My Computer My Way is a website which shows you how to alter your device to best support your user needs.

Browser extensions

Extensions are small software programs that customize the browsing experience by adding an icon to your website toolbar which can be toggled on or off. They enable users to tailor functionality and behaviour to meet individual needs or preferences on the Internet.

Google Chrome and have a full suite of extensions available via their Chrome Web store however you will need a free Gmail account.
Other browsers are increasing their use of extensions however the list below are all sourced from the Chrome Web Store.

Screenshot of the Reader View Chrome extension

Reader View Extension: strips away clutter like buttons, background images, and changes the page's text size, contrast and layout for better readability 
Search for: Reader View Extension in the Chrome Web Store


 

 

 

 




Screenshot of the Claro Read Chrome extension

ClaroRead Chrome Extension: Listen to web pages read aloud. 
Search For: Claro Read Chrome Extension in the Chrome Web Store


Screenshot of the Read & Write Chrome extension

Read & Write Extension: Boost reading and writing confidence across all types of content and devices, in class, at work, and at home. Search for Read & Write Extension in the Chrome Web Store

 

 

 

Screenshot of the Universal Accessibility Toolkit Chrome extension


The Universal Accessibility Toolkit provides users with a comprehensive selection of tools to fulfil all their accessibility needs in one easy to use app.
Search for: Universal Accessibility Toolkit in the Chrome Web store

 

Screenshot of the Headings Map Chrome extension

Headings Map Extension: The extension generates a document map or index of any web document structured with headings (you can access directly to the content by clicking on any of its items), and now, it shows the HTML 5 outline.
Search for: HeadingsMap extension in the Chrome Web store

 

 

 

 

 

Apps

‘App’ is short for application, which are small programs downloaded to smart phones and tablets. Apps can change the way you interact with your device and provide a wealth of accessibility support.Apps are downloaded from online stores, which one depends on the brand or type of your device. For for example:

Apple products access the App Store
Android products access Google Play Store
Windows products access Windows Marketplace

Some Apps are free, others are low cost, but some can be considerable more expensive, so ensure you check the price before you download. The list below contains a selection of the accessibility apps which can be found at both the App store or Google Play

Logo of the Android Accessibility Suite appAndroid Accessibility Suite: Android Accessibility Suite is a collection of accessibility apps that help you use your Android device eyes-free.
Search for: Android Accessibility Suite on Google Play only

 

Logo of the Live Transcribe app

 Live Transcribe: Live Transcribe performs real-time transcription of speech and sound to text on your screen, so you can more easily participate in conversations going on in the world around you. You can also keep the conversation going by typing your response on the screen.
Search for: Live transcribe on Google Play (Android)

 

Logo of the Envision AI app

Envision AI: See what you can’t with Envision, the fastest and most reliable app that describes the visual world around you with the help of artificial intelligence and OCR
Search for: Envision AI available on Google Play only

 


Logo of the Claro MagVR app

 Claro MagVR: 3D high-definition visual magnifier for your screen.
Search for: 'Claro MagVR' on theApp Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android)



Logo of the Claro MagX app

Claro MagX: Mobile app that can magnify and improve contrast.
Search for:
'Claro MagX' on the MagX App Store (iOS) or GMagX Google Play (Android)


Logo of the Claro PDF app

Claro PDF: PDF Reader for your mobile device with features to increase readability of documents. Claro PDF is free by default, however you can buy Claro PDF Pro for a one-off fee.
Search for: 'ClaroPDF' on the PDF App Store (iOS) or PDF Google Play (Android)


Other useful Links:

Ability Net Expert Resources: Best Apps for … recommendations

Apple Accessibility Guide: Visit Apple Accessibility Guide

Android Accessibility Guide: Visit Android Accessibility Guide

Funkify Disability Simulator: free for a trial period, visit the Funkify Website


And finally this excellent set of free posters developed by the Home Office for public use to improve accessibility. Download and share in your workplace! Designing for Accessibility Posters

The Universal Accessibility Toolkit provides users with a comprehensive selection of tools to fulfil all their accessibility needs in one easy to use app.
Search for: Universal Accessibility Toolkit in the Chrome Web store


Image of the 6 posters depicting guidelines for producing material for users with specific needs

© Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine

Registered in England and Wales (No. 3080332)
Registered Charity (No.1047999)