Accessibility Maze Game

maze game screen grabIf you want to learn about digital accessibility in a fun way try the Accessibility Maze Game developed by The Chang School, Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada. It takes a bit of working out and you may not get to all the levels but have a go!

When you have managed to get through the levels there is a useful “What you can do to Remove Barriers on the Web” pdf downloadable ebook telling you all about the issues that you will have explored during the Accessibility Maze Game. These are all related to W3C Web Cotent Accessibility Guidelines but presented in ten steps.

The ebook is available in an accessible format and has been provided under Creative Common licencing (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

SCULPT for Accessibility

SCULPT process thanks to Digital Worcester – Download the PDF infographic

Helen Wilson has very kindly shared her link to SCULPT for Accessibility. Usually we receive strategies that relate to student’s work, but in this case, this is a set of resources that aim “to build awareness for the six basics to remember when creating accessible documents aimed at the wider workforce in a local authority or teachers creating learning resources.”

It seemed at this time whilst everything was going online due to COVID-19 this was the moment to headline the need to make sure all our work is based on the principles of accessibility, usability and inclusion. JISC has provided a new set of guidelines relating to public service body regulations and providing online learning materials. Abilitynet are also offering useful links with more advice for those in Further and Higher Education

Otter Voice Notes and Transcription

Otter creates voice notes that combine audio, transcription and speaker identification for free on a desktop/laptop computer when online and with mobile and tablet apps. 

Otter is a real time speech recognition service, that can recognise different speakers in recorded sessions, allow you to download the output in text and audio as well as SRT.  It is really quite accurate even when using a desktop microphone with clear English speakers in a small room.  We have found it useful for note taking and transcribing interviews but have not tested it in a lecture theatre.  The free online version of Otter offers 600 minutes of transcription per month with unlimited cloud storage and synchronisation across devices.  Visit the App Store or Google Play for more features and reviews.

 The Premium version provides more features, such as names of speakers when they register and are recognised by recording a little bit of speech and 6,000 minutes of transcription per month.  PC Mag provided a review in June 2018 and mentioned that with the free plan, users get 600 minutes of transcriptions per month.

ECS Accessibility Team, University of Southampton. 

Seeing AI for recognising things and reading out what it has found!

According to Stuart Ball this free Seeing AI iPhone or iPad app has multiple benefits for those with visual impairments or who are blind.   It has been developed by Microsoft so has the ‘swiss army knife approach’ according to AccessWorld to telling you about the world around you.  It searches out light sources, identifies colours and money and describes them using text to speech.  It will recognise a person is approaching and offer a description.  Barcodes can be read and optical character recognition is used for documents etc.  Clear handwriting can be deciphered and scenes described.

Another college student called Veronica in USA has provided a very helpful Seeing AI review from a blind student’s point of view

Microsoft have produced a YouTube video about the Seeing AI app.

Thank you so much Stuart for providing this strategy.

Stuart Ball is an Assessor at the Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Free Microsoft Office Lens speeds productivity

phone Office lens

Taking an photo of the screen

Office lens is a free app available on an iPhone, Android and Window smartphone  that links to One Drive accounts and allows you to take photographs and put them straight into Microsoft Office applications. The really good thing about Office Lens is that when I take a picture of a presentation or whiteboard I can make sure it is exactly the right shape and is straight not set at an angle using the outline on the screen by selecting the document or whiteboard menu item.

image alignment for OCR

Making sure the image is straight for OCR

That is really important if you are taking photos of text that you want to have read aloud later.  If they appear out of focus or at an odd angle you will not be able to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to have the image converted to text so you can use a text to speech or screen reader application later on.  Once you have taken your photo you choose which application you want to send it to and if this is Microsoft Word it will extract the text.  The other options are your photos on the phone, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Outlook or your phone mail if you want to send it as an email attachment.  The app will also save it as a PDF.

ready for export

Ready for exporting

The best thing I like about Office Lens is how it is linked to OneNote because I can collect all the images, notes and presentations, even photos of handwritten notes straight into my Notes folder and then I can search for them at any time,  as  I really have trouble remembering what I have heard in lectures etc and this process acts as a back up .

Getting started with Microsoft Office Lens from cnet

Abi James – Researcher University of Southampton.

KNFB Reader app – Take a photo then have text read aloud

KNFB iphone app

knfbReader by Sensotec nv – View of the iPhone screen with a scanned document and output

I received a free version of the app through my role on the British Dyslexia Association’s New Technologies Committee and I love it!  For my own personal use (dyslexia rather than VI), I’ve historically relied on apps such as Prizmo or ClaroSpeak (with OCR addon). I started using this app a few months ago and for me this app is a big step up for two reasons:
1. Exceptionally fast user experience
2. Exceptional accuracy

1. Exceptionally fast user experience

The app’s purpose is essentially the same as Prizmo / ClaroSpeak (with OCR addon) / CapturaTalk.  However, the main advantage for me is that the time from snapping the photo and to starting to hear it being read aloud is a couple of seconds on my old iPhone 4S, and instantaneous on my iPhone 6.  They do this by:
a) Having an auto-read function, so as soon as it has text from the photo it reads aloud to you, without you having to press another button.
b) Starting to read before the whole page has been analysed.  As soon as it’s recognised the first sentence it starts to read that aloud.

The user interface is really nice – open the app, hold it above the page and press one button!  Then sit back and relax while the page is read to you.  This is a big plus for day-to-day use.

2. Exceptional accuracy

From my non-scientific playing with the app, the OCR accuracy appears to be at least as good as (and I think better than) ClaroSpeak’s OCR addon, and it is much better than Prizmo.

So money-no-object it wins hands down for me – an ideal example of an app that does only one thing and does it very well. Cost £79.99 for the iPhone
Neil Cottrell
LexAble