Android Accessibility: Introducing Action Blocks for rapid access.

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.

Download the app from Google Play

Android Accessibility: Introducing Action Blocks

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.”

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

Windows 10 support for Visual Impairment

YouTube online access

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.

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. 

Colour filters come to iOS 10

colour tint iOS 10Even 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.

Use Display Accommodations on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

 

These filters have also been exciting star gazers as they provide a form of night vision according to Dave Mosher from Business Insider UK.