In yesterday’s post we featured a number of interesting Android educational apps for students with special needs and today we want to draw your attention to this helpful accessibility feature in Google Classroom which allows students with low or no vision to access and navigate Classroom using a screen reader. A screen reader, as you probably know, is a tool or plug-in that uses assistive technology to make it possible for users with low or no vision to access and read web content. This is usually done through different techniques including text to speech or a Braille device. Below are three easy ways you can use a screen reader on Google Classroom:
1- For Google Classroom on the web
Most of the current browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) support screen readers and some of them have built-in screen readers. For instance, Chromebooks have a built-in screen reader called ChromeVox which enables visually impaired students to access and use Chromebooks. Check this page to learn more about how to use ChromeVox. Similarly Apple Safari has VoiceOver which gives you auditory descriptions of onscreen content. FireFox has several options of screen readers which you can learn more about from this page.
2- For Google Classroom on Android devices
If you are using the mobile version of Google Classroom on an Android device then you definitely need to activate TalkBack. This is basically a pre-installed software which ‘uses spoken feedback for interaction’. Check out this page to learn more about how to use TalkBack.
Also, TalkBack works another accessibility service called BrailleBack. Google BrailleBack ‘lets you connect a supported refreshable braille display to your device via Bluetooth. Screen content will be presented on the braille display and you can navigate and interact with your device using the keys on the display. It is possible to input text using the braille keyboard.’ This app is available for free download from Google Play Store. Check out this page to learn more about how to install and enable BrailleBack.
3- For Google Classroom on iOS devices
If you use Classroom on an iOS device , you can make use of VoiceOver. This is basically a standalone screen readers that ‘gives you auditory descriptions of each onscreen element and provides helpful hints along the way — whether you prefer using gestures, a keyboard or a braille display. And it supports more than 30 languages, including multiple voice options.’ Check out this page to learn more about VoiceOver.