The Assistive Technology Support Service has been sifting through various tools that might meet the many and varied needs of teachers and pupils as Chromebooks roll out across Highland schools.
PDF annotation seems to be a significant need.
Many pieces of teachers’ work for pupils already exist as PDF worksheets. The ability to annotate such material opens up many opportunities for pupils to interact directly with these worksheets as we move towards 1:1 device availability.
Kami is a good example of such a well-functioned tool to allow pupils to:
Digitally answer questions directly into the workspace
Comment directly on PDF texts
Draw shapes and diagrams to express knowledge and understanding
Utilise text-to-speech to support those with reading difficulties
Kami integrates with Google Classroom and Drive so files can be shared easily in both directions.
Webpages can be very messy places to read from: broken or wandering text – often split at odd paces to accommodate a picture or advert, font sizes that are too small and shapes not really considerate to those with reading difficulties.
The Safari browser for Mac/iPad/iPhone has had Reader View built in for quite some time allowing users to strip the extraneous stuff out of the page leaving clean, plain text which can also be sized and have its font and background settings changed.
The extension looks like this when your browser is on most front/home pages that are links rather than text-based articles.
The extension icon changes when Reader View is available (text-based articles).
When the icon is clicked the page will change from a standard page to a clear, stripped down Reader View with font size, shape, and background colour/themes available down the right-hand side of the page.
This is the type of extension that should be made available for all pupils who have dyslexia, visual impairments, or any difficulty with reading that might be helped by seeing cleaner, clearer, more appropriately sized text. Using text-to-speech support software is also often easier to utilise with text that is spaced out in this way.
Many schools have been using Clicker 6 successfully over the past few years but because of our impending move towards Chromebooks there’s been no talk or impetus behind upgrading to Clicker 7. Despite the changes that are about to take place over the coming couple of years as many of our pupils are moved to Chromebooks there are compelling reasons why schools might want to consider upgrading to Clicker 7.
Teachers will still be using PCs to drive their IWBs and can make excellent use of Clicker 7 for class lessons that can neatly interface with pupils who might be using one or more of the available Clicker apps on their Chromebooks. The Clicker Board planning tool springs immediately to mind.
There will still be PCs in our schools to meet the more demanding and varied needs of our pupils with additional support needs. Only Clicker 7 offers the full range of functionality that allows for adaptations that might include combinations of pictorial support along with text and speech.
The full range of writing, predictive and speech support, reading, matching, sequencing, Listen & Say, Voice recording, and accessibility is present within Clicker 7.
The apps (for both Chrome & iPad) are fantastic (but only) subsets of the full Clicker 7 package.
As we start to gear up for the roll-out of Chromebooks across our secondary and upper primary schools, beginning next session, we might be excited at the new possibilities that are potentially available to us but we also need to consider continuity or transition for users who rely more heavily on Assistive Technology supports to help them with their school work and in their wider lives.
This blog has lain dormant for quite some time due to various pressures but it is my intention to restart it with regular (we hope) additions to available tools for Chrome. Any items posted on here will have been looked at through our Assistive Technology ‘filters’ and will have been tried with users and tested to ensure they are robust, perform consistently and without additional fuss or difficulty once installed.
Obviously, there’s a great deal of web content that will work in Chrome – we will include comment or reference to these if they meet our AT criteria.
Both Apps and Extensions will be looked at and functionality against cost will be an important feature.
If an App or Extension makes it on to these pages it means that we might consider using it in a scenario that we have encountered with a user or group of users- it is not and should never be read as a ‘catch-all’ recommendation or a ‘must have’.