Some students benefit from additional tools to help them browse and work independently online. We’ve found several embedded accessibility tools and Chrome extensions that can be particularly useful for improving the productivity and independence of diverse learners, including students with disabilities, students struggling with reading, and English Language Learners. Most of these tools require the use of the Chrome browser and/or a Chromebook; reach out to your IT administrator for help with downloading or accessing these tools.
Although each resource has been vetted, it's likely that you will still find errors and functionality issues. The reason for this is while these extensions work in a controlled environment, each district and, at times school, has slightly different internet operating guidelines which may prevent some access. In addition, there are some resources which may not work in the intended way (e.g. text to speech for a PDF due to PDFs being an image vs text).
Text-to-Speech Reader: ChromeVox
Purpose: For learners whose preferred method of learning is through speech.
Pro-tip: The ChromeVox text-to-speech feature uses keyboard shortcuts to navigate through context. Check out a list of useful shortcuts here!
- Go to Chromebook settings
- Click on Advanced Settings
- Under accessibility, click ‘Enable ChromeVox’
- To learn more about using ChromeVox, we recommend Google’s Accessibility Videos
Speech-to-Text: Voice Typing in Google Docs
Purpose: For learners whose preferred method of input is speech rather than typing.
Pro tip: Have students enable voice typing, then lower the screen half-way and have the student speak freely into the computer. When they are complete, fully open the screen and begin editing. This takes removes the distraction of seeing words appear on the screen as students are trying to create free-form thoughts.
- In a Google Doc, select the ‘Tools’ menu button and click the ‘Voice typing…” option
- A module with a microphone should appear, click the microphone to begin transcribing voice. Click the microphone again to end transcription.
Free Chrome Extensions/Plugins
Browser extensions extend the functionality of the student computers, whether they are on the Summit Platform, external websites or Google Docs.
We believe the following browser extensions plugins will help improve your learning experience on Summit Learning Platform, but please note that they are third-party products not under Summit’s control. As such and as described in section 6 of our Terms of Service, you are responsible for your use of these tools and should make sure you have read and are comfortable with their terms of service for each tool before installing and using it.
How can I download a Chrome Extension?
- Follow the provided link to the Google Chrome extension and click “Add to Chrome”
- Confirm that the extension’s icon shows up on the upper right hand edge of the browser
- After downloading the extension, it may be necessary to reload the webpage to use the tool’s functionality.
- If you’re using a computer through your school, your organization might block some extensions. Contact your IT admin to troubleshoot.
Vocabulary Support: Google Dictionary
Purpose: Google Dictionary allows students to look up unfamiliar words in their Chrome browser by double clicking the word or phrase. Very useful for resources with difficult vocabulary.
Directions (after downloading the extension):
- Double click on a word or phrase on a webpage and a bubble with the word’s definition should appear.
- Click the red extension icon in the upper-right corner of the Chrome browser and type the word you’d like to define. Click ‘Define’.
Distraction Free Webpages: Mercury Reader
Purpose: Mercury Reader is useful for learners who would benefit from clutter-free websites and may get distracted when using online resources.
Directions: on pages that may be distracting to students, click the Chrome extension icon and the webpage will appear in a clean layout. Click the extension again to disable the tool.
Activity and Movement Reminders: Move It
Purpose: Move It reminds students to take breaks from technology use at regular intervals and prompts them to perform mini-exercises.
- Click on the chrome extension to configure intervals and enable/disable the tool.
- At intervals of time, the user will be reminded to take a break and complete the mini-exercise. If they’d rather skip the exercise, they can dismiss the reminder.
To Do List and Task Manager: ToDoIst
Purpose: ToDoIst helps students keep their assignments and tasks organized with a to-do-list embedded in the Chrome browser.
Pro tip 1: This tool can be synced online between multiple devices, including smartphones.
Pro tip 2: Mentors can ask to see students’ lists to make sure they’re keeping the lists up-to-date.
- The extension requires logging into Google or Facebook to take notes. We’d recommend teachers have their students use Google.
- After logging into the extension, students can create lists of tasks that they’d like to complete
- Students can assign colors to tasks and use projects to keep tasks organized.
Paid Chrome Extensions
The following Chrome Extensions are useful for teachers and students, but require payment. We recommend making use of the free trials they provide to make sure these plug-ins meet the needs of your students before purchasing a monthly subscription.
Readability, Predictive Writing and Spelling Support: Read and Write
Purpose: Read and Write provides a large tool kit to users including predictive typing, vocabulary, highlighting, voice typing, translating, and annotations.
Pro tip 1: Teachers can apply to receive free accounts. Submit this form.
Pro tip 2: It’s worth reminding students that any highlighting done using the extension is not visible to others.
Directions: This worksheet is useful to help guide students through the use of using the Read and Write Google Chrome extension.
Readability, Predictive Writing and Spelling: Co-Writer Universal
Purpose: Co-Writer Universal offers predictive writing tools to help users with completing words and helps with spelling in addition to providing speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and topic dictionaries.
Pro tip 1: Co-Writer Universal has additional tools for IOS (iPhone/iPad), OSX (Macbook), Windows Desktop and the Chrome browser.
Full List of Assistive Technology Resources
In addition to the resources mentioned above, we've also put together a broader list of apps and extensions which have been vetted to work with diverse learners on the Summit Learning Platform.
Embedded in the resource is a form to submit additional apps / extensions you've found useful. Please utilize this form in order to continue building out this bank.
Link to resource: Summit Learning Assistive Technology Resources