However, recently Ros Walker sent an email to the JISC Assistive technology list about some updates that have occurred. One important point was her note about the app working with virtual learning environments such as Blackboard Ally alternative formats and it is now possible to create in Moodle, an ‘Immersive reader’ option as an alternative format for most files that are added into a Moodle course.
The student’s view on the Moodle course will allow them to select the A (ally logo) at the end of the title of the file they want as well as being presented with all the accessibility options. The University of Plymouth have provided guidance illustrating how this happens from the staff and student perspective as well as accessibility checks.
Introduction to Ally and Immersive Reader for Moodle
Ros has also been kind enough to link to her video about Immersive Reader in Word and how she has worked with PDFs to make the outcome a really useful strategy for students looking for different ways to read documents.
“If you haven’t seen the Immersive reader before, it is available in most Microsoft software and opens readings in a new window that is very clean and you can read the text aloud. (The Immersive Reader)”
This strategy is not new but may be useful if you are using a screen reader as there are tricks that may be missed if you are not aware of the changes needed when using Google docs or sheets because it is working in a browser such as Chrome, Edge or Firefox.
The blog about ‘Google Docs and Sheets with a Screen Reader’ comes from The Perkins School for the Blind in USA and Mark Babaita added an easy tip that might also help those testing the accessibility of the content withiin a doc or sheet:
If you hear JAWS move to a heading on the page and read that heading, you know that the virtual cursor is still active. Use Insert + Z to toggle the virtual cursor on and off.
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
“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.”
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.
Google Action Blocks designed for those with cognitive impairments, but actually useful for anyone who wants a one tap selection to important features on their Android phone.
Action Blocks, a new Android app that allows you to create customisable home screen buttons. This mean you can create widgets with direct access a particular phone number, to a video, diary schedule for the day, documents etc. Google accessibility software engineer Ajit Narayanan and accessibility product manager Patrick Clary share more on the YouTube video below.
The Verge provide more information: ” After you install the Action Blocks app, you set one up by choosing from a list of predefined actions or by typing in your own. It works via Google Assistant, so anything you can ask for with your voice can be typed in. After you test that it works, you can save it as a button on the home screen.
Importantly, you’ll have the option to put your own custom image on the button. Again, the purpose of the features isn’t to let productivity junkies make workflows; it’s to help people with cognitive disabilities achieve tasks on their phones. So setting a big photo of a family member to make a video call is an essential feature.”
If 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!