December 6, 2019

Increasing Accessibility for Students on the Web

Use Immersive Reader on Websites (unofficial) Chrome Extension

Technology tools can make accessibility possible by creating embedded supports that differentiate and personalize instruction.  The Google Suite has many built-in tools to support students’ reading, writing, and fluency. Extensions for Google Chrome can customize the browsing experience for users. 

Microsoft’s suite of programs has several learning tools that create an accessible reading experience as well. One such tools is the Immersive Reader.  At EdTechTeacher, many of the schools we work with utilize G Suite for EDU as their primary suite of tools. Until recently, I have not been able to find anything within the G Suite tools that can emulate and support a user’s experience like Microsoft’s Immersive Reader.  

The “Use Immersive Reader on Websites [unofficial]”  Chrome extension works much like the built-in tool available in many of Microsoft’s programs.  It’s important to note that, as it states, this Chrome Extension is not offered by Microsoft. The extension allows the reader to personalize their reading experience on websites by providing the ability to customize text preferences such as: font size, font style, text spacing, and background color to make the content more readable.

It also customizes the font spacing, decreasing the line length which can address visual crowding of the text. This option can assist some students with visual tracking of the text when reading.  The line focus mode highlights only a small portion of text – assisting with sustained attention, which can improve reading speed. A user can even color code and label words to indicate their part of speech.  This function can assist with decoding more complex texts. 

The read aloud feature provides students with the option of male or female voice as well as customization of the speed the text is read.  The extension offers several dictionary options – including a visual one. Selected words can be viewed as a drawing – assisting with the representation of the meaning of the word.  Lastly, the user can choose the language options to translate text into 60+ languages.  This function provides a wonderful opportunity for students to hear and view text in their native language.