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 Apple iOS free Shortcuts app can be used to make many tasks one step easier. If you go to the Apple store you can download the ShortCuts app
Several websites have commented on how useful it is, and AbilityNet provided an early review about how Siri can be used in additional ways with this app. It makes it possible to combine several steps into one automated step using the Shortcuts Widget or just asking Siri.
There is a gallery of shortcuts and one of them is a universal clipboard that allows you to dictate content using Siri for pasting into any other app or sending a message, email etc with just one command.
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.
The free overTHERE iPhone app has been called a ‘game changer’ by Stuart Ball as it allows places to be located via their signs by holding the phone in a horizontal manner. You can then simply turn around on the spot and listen as businesses/shops are brought to your attention. It also tells you how far away they are from where you are standing. According to the app developer it is an “accessibility app that helps blind individuals explore and interact with the surrounding environment by using virtual audible signs.”
“When the phone is held vertically you can use the screen or VoiceOver to review the list of signs around you. By selecting a sign from the list you can access details about a location such as its address, phone number, or web site.”
Google Drive is an online tool which uses your Google account to store files online and can also be used to share files with other people and work on projects together. Being able to join in with a few others to work on a project and be able to take a break and have work still done is really useful.
Google Drive is compatible Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8
Mac, mavericks (10.9), Mountain Lion (10.8), Lion (10.7)
Linux can access Google Drive through the website but the software is not available on the system
android 4.0+ and iOS 7.0+ are able to use Google drive, android 2.3-3.2 and iOS 6.0+ Can only view the files
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer run Google Drive but require Java script
Siri asked to check appointments on 22nd September
Siri is brilliant for calendar management and time/task management, but underused, you can verbally manage your calendar/ tasks which, I personally find reduces the burden on my working memory and is more intuitive . The speed of which I can set myself a reminder by taking the phone out of my pocket rather than searching for a pen and paper which I inevitably end up losing anyway is astounding! I really like iOS accessibility. I definitely find low maintenance strategies with gainful upsides work well.