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 that may not work in an intended way (e.g. text to speech for a PDF due to PDFs being an image vs text).
- Text-to-Speech Tools
- Free Chrome Extensions/Plugins
- Translating Webpages: Google Translate
- Free Web-based Tools
- Paid Chrome Extensions
- Full List of Assistive Technologies
Text-to-Speech Reader: NVDA (preferred text-to-speech option, works on PCs running Microsoft Windows only)*
Purpose: to support students whose required/preferred method for learning is through speech.
- Go to https://www.nvaccess.org/download/
- Click download
- Open the download and press the Install NVDA button
- The installation dialog that appears will confirm whether you wish to install NVDA and will also tell you whether this installation will be updating a previous install. Click the Continue button to start installing NVDA.
- Once the installation has completed, a message will appear telling you that it was successful.
- Click OK to restart the newly installed copy of NVDA.
- Press control+alt+n, or choose NVDA from the NVDA menu under Programs on the Start Menu
- To learn more about using NVDA, we recommend NVDA’s User Guide
*If your student does not have a PC running Microsoft Windows, they can use ChromeVox in any Chrome browser window.
- 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 Slides
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 Slide, 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 Learning 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 Web pages: 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.
Purpose: EquatIO is a Freemium tool that is an easy-to-use math & STEM editor that’s built on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles aimed to increase accessibility & engagement through the tools below.
- Equation Editor: A feature that allows a learner to type, dictate or hand-write math expressions that populate as text within documents. An added benefit is that you can enter multi-line math expressions that format
- Graph Editor: Powered by Desmos, this feature allows you to construct & edit graphs.
- Handwriting Recognition: A feature that allows a learner to write out the math with a mouse cursor or using a touch screen device that converts the handwriting to typed equations.
- Equation Prediction: A feature that predicts what equation a learner might be entering, including formulas & chemical equations.
- Speech Input: A feature that allows a learner to dictate math and have it typed out for them.
- EquatIO Mobile: A mobile companion to EquatIO on a computer or tablet.
- Google Read&Write: EquatIO integrates with Read&Write for Math-to-Speech capabilities
This tool is very useful for learners that need assistance with typing expressions, formatting expressions (such as lining up place value and equal signs in multi-step problems), and recalling formulas.
Visit this ‘Getting Started with EquatIO’ Help Article written by texthelp. You can also view this EquatIO YouTube Playlist for more details.
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 set up 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.
Translating Webpages: Google Translate
Purpose: The Google Translate Chrome extension helps English language learners to understand content as they explore resources and webpages.
Pro tip 1: Monitor student usage of tools such as Google Translate to ensure that they are meeting their English language proficiency goals.
- Highlight or right-click on a section of text and click on Translate icon to translate it to your language of choice.
- To translate the entire page you're visiting, click the translate icon on the browser toolbar.
To translate entire Notebooks and other parts of the platform:
- Go to https://translate.google.com to choose an origin and destination language
- Right click on the grey background of the Notebook.
- Click "Translate to..."
Readability, Vision Support: Colorblind-Dalton
Purpose: Colorblind-Dalton is an extension that simulates a website by providing different forms of viewing to assist those with various levels of color deficiency.
Pro tip: Dalton provides customization that allows a user to set color severity.
Purpose: Desmos offers free classroom activities and calculators—Four Function Calculator, Scientific Calculator, and Graphing Calculator—aimed to help students learn mathematics while also developing an appreciation of mathematics. Expect to find embedded accessibility features such as increased font size, contrasting-colors, text-to-speech, audio trace of graphed equations, and braille compatibility in both the calculators & activities. Very useful for all learners especially those that need calculation & vision supports.
The links below will take you directly to the free calculator tools and activities offered by Desmos.
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 toolkit 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 used 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 use this form in order to continue building out this bank.
Link to resource: Summit Learning Assistive Technology Resources