PDF reader in Microsoft Edge and Immersive Reader goes mobile.

We don’t usually have a collection of stategies but in this case Alistair McNaught has posted an interesting comment on Linkedin that he now uses Edge to read PDFs. From the quote below the browser offers better reading experiences not just with the usual table of contents, page view and text to speech.

Microsoft Edge comes with a built-in PDF reader that lets you open your local pdf files, online pdf files, or pdf files embedded in web pages. You can annotate these files with ink and highlighting. This PDF reader gives users a single application to meet web page and PDF document needs. The Microsoft Edge PDF reader is a secure and reliable application that works across the Windows and macOS desktop platforms. More Microsoft Edge features

Microsoft have also updated their Immersive Reader so that it now works on iOS and Android. The following text has been taken from a post that might be useful ‘What’s New in Microsoft Teams for Education | July 2021’

  • Immersive Reader on iOS and Android. Immersive Reader, which uses proven customization techniques to support reading across ages and abilities, is now available for Teams iOS and Android apps. You can now hear posts and chat messages read aloud using Immersive Reader on the Teams mobile apps.
  • Access files offline on Android. The Teams mobile app on Android now allows you to access files even when you are offline or in bad network conditions. Simply select the files you need access to, and Teams will keep a downloaded version to use in your mobile app. You can find all your files that are available offline in the files section of the app. (This is already available on iOS.)
  • Teams on Android tablets. Now you can access Teams from a dedicated app from Android tablets.
  • Inline message translation in channels for iOS and Android. Inline message translation in channels lets you translate channel posts and replies into your preferred language. To translate a message, press and hold the channel post or reply and then select “Translate”. The post or reply will be translated to your UI language by default. If you want to change the translation language, go to Settings > General > Translation.”

Thank you Alistair for this update on some new strategies.

Good use of colours when thinking about Colour Deficiency

Color Oracle menu with view of colour palette
Color Oracle menu for making a choice of colour filter.

 Bernie Jenny from Monash University in Australia has developed Color Oracle as a free colour deficiency simulator for Windows, Mac and Linux. When designing any software, apps or websites it allows you to check the colour choices.

This download works on older operating systems as well as the latest ones using Java, but it is important to follow the developer’s instructions for each operating system. It is very easy to use on a Windows machine where the app sits in the system tray and can be used at any time when testing colour options by selecting an area on the screen.

Another trick when designing web pages or other documents is to view them in grey scale or print them out to test readability.

This strategy comes thanks to Andy Eachus at University of Huddersfield.

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.