If you are supporting students or want to learn more about the way Microsoft Windows 10 provides built in assistive technologies to support visual impairments Craig Mill and CALL Scotland have a blog on the subject and Craig has made a YouTube playlist. All the videos have captions and the transcripts are readily available.
The videos are short bite-sized guides and comprise of the following topics:
Part 1: Customising the desktop using some simple adjustments in Windows 10.
Part 2: Magnifying information in apps – some useful hints and tips on zooming in and out of browsers and other apps.
Part 3: Customising Mouse Tools and Pointer – how to make changes to the Mouse Pointer using Windows ‘legacy’ tools.
Part 4: Using keyboard shortcut keys to increase the font size in Microsoft Word – improving speed and workflow.
Part 5 (a): Using Immersive Reading tools in Microsoft Word to customise the font / text and listen to it spoken aloud.
Part 5 (b): Using Learning Tools in Microsoft Edge Browser to customise font/text, layout and hear it read aloud.
Part 6: Introduction to Microsoft Ease of Access Tools Display Settings – how to ‘Make text size bigger’, ‘Make everything bigger’ and how to adjust the mouse pointer size and colour.
Part 7: Using Windows Magnifier – how to use Windows Magnifier in combination with other Ease of Access Display Settings such as ‘Make everything bigger’ etc.
Part 8: Colour filters – maximising computer accessibility for learners who experience colour blindness.
Part 9: High Contrast Filter – how to customise the colours of elements such as menu bars, backgrounds, buttons etc, in Windows.
Part 10 (a): Microsoft Narrator – an introduction to using screen reading with Windows Narrator.
Part 10 (b): Using Windows Narrator to navigate the desktop and Microsoft Word.
The Visolve webpage or download allows you to check to see if colours are sufficiently distinguishable from each other. This can help those with colour vision deficiency or colour blindness. You can upload an image and it will provide you with the original view and other selected options such as Red-Green transform, Blue-Yellow transform, Saturation increase, Red, Yellow, Green or Blue filter and with added hatching.
Visolve is also available as an app for iPhones or on Windows and Mac.desktop computers.
Here are some useful, free applications I came across for a needs assessment I have just completed.
Colorblind Assistant – PC – Hover mouse over pixel in any running application – Excel/Powerpoint/PDF/Word etc, and the program displays the colours name.
“Colorblind Assistant is free software that instantly picks the color from the mouse pointer, providing you with a written name of the color, as well as other useful data such as RGB values and bar graphs, brightness and saturation.” It is available as an Android app on Google Play.
Color ID Free – iPhone and Android – Point phone or tablet device at any object and software displays name of currently viewed colour.
“Color Identifier uses the camera on your iPhone or iPod touch to speak the names of colors in real-time. It’s an Augmented Reality app for discovering the names of the colors around you!”
My student was a Pharmacology student who was having difficulty with graphs, lab equipment, dissection. Tested the phone app with various items I had around, and it was very good. As it is on a portable device, it is ideal for lab/field work.
Tim Symons | Training Co-ordinator/Needs Assessor/AT Trainer | Access SUMMIT
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.
In MS Office programs you can get instant access to text to speech via the ‘speak’ button by using the Quick Action toolbar in Word and other Office programs. Go to File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar > Choose All Commands from the drop down menu > scroll down to Speak > add
“Immersive Reading Tools which were originally available in OneNote (and required a download) are now available in Office 365 – Word Online and OneNote as standard – no installation required. It’s also cross platform so will work on a Mac with Safari browser.
To access the Learning Tools in Word Online or OneNote Online, log into your account, open Word or OneNote, go to the View menu and click Immersive Reader.
• Read Aloud—Reads text aloud with simultaneous highlighting – although no option (that I can see) to change the voice. Still, the voice is ‘okayish’.• Spacing—a range of spacing options to help declutter pages. • Syllables—Shows the breaks between syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.• Parts of Speech —Supports writing instruction and grammar comprehension by identifying verbs, nouns and adjectives.
Immersive Reader also has options to change the page colour, font size, style etc. ”
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