Computer operating systems
The built-in accessibility features in Windows vary with the operating system – you can get a summary of accessibility settings on different Windows versions. Options are available to support magnification, colour/contrast changes, text to speech, voice recognition etc. Tweaking these options can make a productivity difference for any users
A similar range of accessibility features for Mac OS means that whether the student has a Windows laptop or Mac they should be able to optimise the default settings to make reading or writing more comfortable and efficient.
Browser extensions and plugins
Google Chrome, Opera and Mozilla FireFox can be extended with a range of free extensions known as plugins or add-ons. Find these in the Chrome Webstore, the FireFox Add-ons page or the Opera Add-ons page.
There are a wide range of accessibility plug-ins for FireFox, many of which improve reading comfort by changing colours or magnification. The University of Southampton’s ATbar plugin provides a suite of accessibility features.
Tools include text to speech, colour changing, page de-cluttering, speed reading, mind mapping, time management and even quality voice recognition. See the accessibility blog for details on specific recommended browser plugins.
Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader have some excellent inbuilt functionality that can support print-impaired readers. Both Word and Adobe reader allow you to:
- Magnify text and reflow it so it fits on the screen without left right scrolling: use the ‘web page view’ in Word or View > Zoom > Reflow in Adobe Reader
- Change the background page colours
- Use inbuilt text-to-speech (although you have to manually add the 'Speak' feature to Word’s Quick Access toolbar), which allow users to highlight text, select the speak button and listen to the content
- Navigate swiftly to any point of a structured text document using the navigation pane (Word) or bookmarks toolbar (Adobe Reader)
- Automatically scroll the page like an autocue (Adobe Reader)