Using Google Docs and Sheets with JAWS, NVDA or most other screen readers

Google letter G

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.

https://www.googlesupportnumber.com/

July 11th, 2018

The authors have added useful links to the Freedom Scientific free webinars and printed resources covering a variety of topics, including for using Google Drive, Docs and Sheets with JAWS and Magic.  

PDF reader in Microsoft Edge and Immersive Reader goes mobile.

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

Microsoft have also updated their Immersive Reader so that it now works on iOS and Android. The following text has been taken from a post that might be useful ‘What’s New in Microsoft Teams for Education | July 2021’

  • 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.”

Thank you Alistair for this update on some new strategies.

Good use of colours when thinking about Colour Deficiency

Color Oracle menu with view of colour palette
Color Oracle menu for making a choice of colour filter.

 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.

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