Thursday, April 9, 2020

Resources for people with disabilities learning/working at home

a man stares at his laptop screen

By JoLynne Lyon

Here is a list of resources to help you get through your quarantine. Check back--we'll keep updating!

Accessibility apps and software features

Apple resources:

iOS Apps for accessibility
Apple's accessibility page

Microsoft resources:

Accessibility tools for windows
Microsoft accessibility

Apps for specific disabilities:

List of apps for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Utah Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

Wifi options for people who do not have internet at home

  • Xfinity offers Internet Essentials, a reduced-rate high-speed internet service, to qualifying customers. If you are eligible for certain public assistance programs, you may qualify. Find out more on their website.
  • Xfinity has made its hotspots open, free, to everyone during the Coronavirus quarantine, whether they are customers or not. Read more about it on their website, and find a map of hot spots in Utah (unfortunately hot spots are mostly in northern and north central Utah).
  • Sprint/T Mobile are allowing unlimited data to those with metered data plans during the Coronavirus crisis. In addition to using the service on your phone, you can use your phone as a hotspot to provide data to a laptop or tablet. You can read more on their website (you'll have to scroll down).
  • AT&T is also offering unlimited data for its customers at its public hotspot locations. AT&T does not offer a map of its hotspots but encourages you to find a hotspot locator in your phone's App Store.
  • Check with your library. The library in my small town has a sign taped on the door, letting patrons know they can use the library's wifi from the parking lot. It even has the password.

Resources for families during school closure

Check with your local school. They may be able to help you with devices and connectivity.
Includes information on using school platforms, tips on navigating distance learning, and resources for dealing with curriculum and content.

Online meeting accessibility

Using the Zoom Video Conferencing Platform with Jaws (Freedom Scientific)

Captioning online meetings

Skype offers live captioning. I've tried this, and while the captions are slow, the captioning was decent and the service was free. You can include up to 50 people on a call, but you may want to slow down the communication if you use it--there is a time lag.

 Google Hangouts Meet includes a speech to text option for meetings of up to 250 people. It requires a G Suite subscription. 

Zoom allows for closed-captioning if the captions are entered by the meeting host or participant. The free version can include up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes; paid plans allow for up to 500 participants. Some third parties integrate with Zoom to provide captioning (More on that below.)

PowerPoint offers live captioning in presenter mode, which can be used over Zoom with screen sharing.

Microsoft Teams allows you to use live captions in meetings of up to 250 people. It requires a subscription.

Verbit (captioning) has announced new integration with Zoom. This paid service allows clients to have real-time captioning that is AI generated and human-verified and edited. 

You can automatically transcribe cloud-recorded Zoom meetings  (Zoom)

Technology for the Blind

Temporary JAWS, ZoomText and Fusion licenses are available to educators and students who are blind or have low vision. 

Special licenses have been created to assist students and workers who much remain home during the COVID-19 crisis. A free short-term Home Annual License of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion (expires June 30, 2020) is available to anyone with a personal email address in the United States and Canada. Find out more on their website


For people with print disabilities

In support of enabling students with print disabilities to access native PDF digital math texts, and InftyReaderGroup are making a lite version of their reader available.

On making accessible materials

Creating accessible documents (MacArthur Foundation)

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