Chromebooks are the most popular device type in education and currently hold a market share of about 60%(Foley, 2018).
Naturally, the ChromeOS has many accessibility features that enable countless students with various disabilities to use Chromebooks for educational purposes.
This blog post is a quick overview of accessibility features available in ChromeOS 70.0.3538.76.
1. ChromeVox – Text-to-Speech
ChromeVox is a screen reader for visually impaired users. When turned on, it reads window titles, tabs, and the content of the open pages.
It has a multitude of features that the users can customize to fit their desired experience. The user can change the language, voice, reading speed, and use keyboard shortcuts for most basic operations.
2. High contrast mode
This mode allows users with visual disabilities such as low vision or color blindness to use Chromebooks comfortably.
A magnifier zooms in a part of the screen for the users with visual disabilities. It can either be used as a panel with the magnified content in the upper part of the screen (see screenshot below), or to magnify the entire screen. A user can choose the level of magnification (2x, 4x, 8x, etc.)
4. Text size customization
This feature allows users to customize text size across all applications and websites in a given Chromebook.
5. Sticky Keys
Keyboard shortcuts are a handy way to quickly achieve a specific task on any computer using just the keyboard and Chromebooks have plenty of shortcuts.
Sticky keys feature is made for the users who are unable to press several keyboard buttons at the same time, as keyboard shortcuts usually work.
This feature allows the users to press the keys in a succession in order to achieve the same result than as if the keys were pressed together.
6. On-screen keyboard
This feature allows users to use the mouse to use the keyboard. It can help users who are unable to use a keyboard due to disabilities.
7. Dictation (speech-to-text)
The dictation feature can be very useful to the users who have difficulties using a keyboard to type the text. It allows a user to just speak and the program will recognize the spoken words and put them into text format. This feature is available in many different languages in ChromeOS.
8. Highlight the object with keyboard focus and highlight the text caret
This feature can be useful to users with visual and/or cognitive disabilities. It focuses the user’s attention on the typing area or the text caret.
9. Automatically click the mouse when the mouse stops
This feature will automatically click the left mouse button after the mouse stops, for example, for 2 seconds (the time is adjustable). This can be useful for the users who can move the mouse but are unable to press the mouse buttons.
10. Large cursor mouse
This feature makes the mouse cursor very big for the users with visual impairments to see it better.
11. Highlight the mouse when moving
Similar to the previous feature, this feature helps the users with visual impairments to see the mouse better.
12. Play the same audio through all speakers (mono)
Turning on this feature will play the same audio track from both left and right audio channels. It can be useful for the users who have hearing only in one ear.