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.
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.
I have found that Claro ScanPen works well with typed text and has the advantage of real time scanned conversions without an internet connection. You can take a photo of the text using your smartphone camera and the app will scan the content and read it aloud using optical character recognition (OCR). Having had the text read out you can copy and paste sections into another app such as Notes.
It works both on an iOS or Android phones and tablets and is available from the Apple app store and Google Play. The Android version is free and updates have fixed some of the glitches, the iOS version costs £6.99 outright at the time of writing. This version has a restricted number of voices for different languages, whereas the premium version with an annual payment of £9.99 provides unlimited access to many different languages and option to have 10 free scans before paying as well as a 14 day trial.
Dr Abi James – Research Fellow, University of Southampton.
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. ”
Even though you could have colour filters on the Android and your desktop it has only been possible on the iPhone and iPad since the introduction of iOS 10. These filters can be useful for dulling the screen, offering different choices of colour overlay for those with colour deficiencies or visual stress. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Colour Filters. Turn them on and there is a choice of filters with the names of different colour deficencies such as Protanopia Red/Green filter. Go to the bottom of the list and there you will find the colour tint that allows you to choose a hue and the intensity to suit your preference.