As more districts more toward the use of Chromebooks for 1:1 device use, there are always questions about how these devices can provide the accessibility supports needed by our students with physical and/or learning disabilities. Since Chromebooks don’t allow for installation of software programs (the usual source of specialized reading/writing support), assistive tools must come from apps and extensions that can modify the user interface. These tools, many of which are free, are available from the Chrome Web Store and offer accommodations for visual needs, reading, writing, studying, note-taking, web navigation, etc. Be sure to check out user reviews and give a number of options a trial run before deciding which work best for the intended user.
I love the free accessibility tools offered by EduApps! Although vision support options are included in the popular MyStudyBar tool, they have gone one step further and created a standalone application called MyVisBar for users with low vision.
MyVisBar can be downloaded to the computer (or a USB drive for added portability) for use with any PC or Android device. It offers excellent magnification with additional built-in supports for learners with visual difficulties. Features include options for changing text contrast (yellow on black), a visible ring to help track the cursor, a nice screen reader, high contrast text editing, color masking for text, and the ability to change the desktop resolution. Similar supports are available for student use within the online PARCC tests. These tools are quite helpful for students with low vision as well as those who need text accommodations to support independent reading.
There are a number of handy apps out there for those with low vision. Clarix, a leading provider of magnification systems, has created three new apps and all are free (always the best part!) Visit their website http://www.clarixusa.com/index.php/products/apps or the iTunes store for more information. Just remember that iDevices have small megapixel capabilities so the magnification resolution will never quite as sharp as we’d like, but the apps are great.
iCam is a low vision magnifier and reader for your iPhone or iPad. It features 5 high-contrast false color modes, as well as black and white, and color. iCam can magnify printed text and includes an optional light feature for use in dimly lit rooms. iCam uses OCR technology to convert printed text to speech, as well. It takes a picture and then converts it to spoken text. It uses state of the art OCR technology. Features include: variable magnification levels, contrast enhancement, pinch zoom magnification, 4 inverse color choices, full-color and black/white mode options.
Voice IT will read your text messages, incoming calls, voice mail alerts, eMail, etc. Advanced settings allow you to choose a ringtone alert and repeat what is being read. For privacy, a discreet mode is available when using headphones.
Need to find something on your phone and quickly launch it? No need to fumble to find a website, contact, song, or app. Use Find IT. Start typing and Find IT will show you what you commonly used. Find anything on your phone quickly and easily. It remembers your favorite items and search history. Featuring large type.
LARGE Timer is a simple countdown timer for those with low vision. It has a very simple interface and a large display. Use it for any timed event or as an alarm.