Accessibility Applications for the Classroom and Campus


Over the last few months staff in our Academic Technology department has been partnering with Campus Accessibility Services to offer more collaboration on using accessible tools (Read Write)! and how to apply principles of Universal Design to our LMS – we use Moodle. With this in mind I wanted to mention some applications that I’ve been experimenting with and thinking about in terms of accessibility. Having just read the article, Confidence Crisis in Online Accessibility, which is worth a quick read if you haven’t read about accessibility and the state of accessibility in particular on community college campus’,  I wanted to further think about how we might address other accessibility needs through the device most of us with us at all times – our smartphones.

Google Translate which I have mentioned previously is an incredible tool in this regard, I’ve been thinking of it in particular as a tool for ESL. If you’re presenting information within the classroom and a student is having issues in translation, the Camera and Instant Camera translation mode (mentioned below) could be quite useful for providing translations of presentations or other written work in the classroom. Sure you might not want photos in your class, but this as a tool to assist students, I think as the application could be a wonderful tool. ReadWrite does translations as well, but there is a value in having the instantaneous support of Google Translate within a classroom that gives Google Translate a different purpose.

Specs of Google Translate

  • Translate between 103 languages by typing
  • Tap to Translate: Copy text in any app and your translation pops up
  •  Offline: Translate 59 languages when you have no Internet
  •  Instant camera translation: Use your camera to translate text instantly in 38 languages
  •  Camera Mode: Take pictures of text for higher-quality translations in 37 languages
  • Conversation Mode: Two-way instant speech translation in 32 languages
  • Handwriting: Draw characters instead of using the keyboard in 93 languages
  • Phrasebook: Star and save translations for future reference in any language

The AVA Application captions conversations in real time. Their free account allows for real-time captions of conversations around you, 24/7, and captioned conversations with 1 or more friends up to 5 hours per month. My boyfriend used this tool with his grandfather, who became hard of hearing and can not speak sign, at his family Christmas, I know from this the application worked! It provided his Grandfather with a sense of what was happening in the room at the time moreso than perhaps he had been able to experience since he became hard of hearing. I just think about how this tool might be useful for live lectures and captioning for students with any hearing issues. 

Another application I was very excited to read about and install on my own personal device was BeMyEyes a Free app that pairs seeing persons with blind persons who need assistance. I remember when I was working in Washington, DC and the city had actually moved the location of a bus station. A patron of the library had just walked out and was not aware of this change. I ended up helping said patron to the bus station, but I can only imagine, if a helpful person had not been around to assist with this experience, how useful it might be to have someone else to assist and this app enables just that! If you’re feeling altruistic or want to encourage students to help others in a meaningful way, this could also be a tool for many students to learn from as well.


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