Each student should be able to actively participate in remote or hybrid classes, regardless of individual limitations. Google Workspace for Education is also a teaching aid for students with sight, hearing or motor disabilities. Explore the accessibility features built into individual Google apps and Chrome OS.
Accessibility in Gmail
Gmail is a hub for teacher communication for school students using Google Workspace for Education, as well as a convenient archive of all shared files. To give everyone convenient access to all the features of the out-inbox, Google has included a whole list of useful features in it:
Screen reader support
Screen-to-speech text-to-speech software such as ChromeVox on Chromebooks, VoiceOver on Mac, and JAWS or NVDA on Windows will read all information in your Gmail mailbox in Chrome without any problems. Readers can be used in the standard view as well as in the simplified HTML view.
In the standard view, the buttons with icons in the application interface should be replaced with text to make them discoverable to the reader. Additional accessibility features in this view include ARIA labels, headers, thread summary information, and link skipping.
You will learn all the instructions, settings and keyboard shortcuts for using the reader in Gmail on this Google help page.
Support for mail clients
Gmail will be a good solution both for people who like to handle Email in a browser window, and for those who find it easier to do it in a local Email program on their computer. Gmail can be integrated with Microsoft Outlook and with third-party clients using the POP and IMAP protocols.
High contrast theme
Gmail allows you to set a high contrast interface theme that makes it easier for users to read the information.
Read on instructions for customising the theme in Gmail.
The main functions of the Gmail mailbox are accessed via keyboard shortcuts. Learning shortcuts can speed up the handling of correspondence for all users, but students with disabilities will especially benefit from it – thanks to this they can use Email on a daily basis without a mouse.
Meet list of keyboard shortcuts available in Gmail.
Accessibility in Google Doc Editors
Creating files in Google document editors (i.e. in Google Docs, Google Sheets or Slides applications) takes place with the help of a browser, not in local programs on the computer. Thanks to this, students and teachers can work together on one document, freely exchanging comments and monitoring the progress of work on an ongoing basis. Accessibility features take account of this web-based collaboration specificity in Google apps so that students with disabilities can fully participate in classroom activities.
A screen reader tells you about other people’s activities
People using Docs, Slides, and Sheets with the help of a screen reader will hear not only voice prompts about the interface and content of the file, but also information about colleagues.
Read the instructions on how to edit files from individual Google apps using a screen reader:
Charts and images in Google Docs, Sheets and Slide give users the ability to post alternative text that describes the content of the graphic – thanks to this, the student using the reader can hear what is in the picture.
Braille display supportFor visually impaired students, the Braille display is an excellent tool supporting the use of a screen reader. In order to be able to enter and read content in document editors with this tool, it is enough to start the screen reader and Braille – find out how to do it.
Voice typing and text formatting
Polish text dictation is available in Google Docs and Google Slides. In the Google Slides application, this function is used only for voice adding notes presenting under the slide workspace, while in the Google Docs document, the student can not only write with his voice, but also perform activities related to editing and formatting the text using the appropriate commands. Watch the video about this feature on our YouTube channel:
Subtitle track in presentations
If the teacher or student presenting the slide show has the microphone turned on, they can activate the automatically generated captions on the screen for the hearing-impaired audience. Currently, this feature only works in English. find out how to run it during the next English lesson presentation in your class.
Live captions on Google Meet
Deaf and hard of hearing people can easily participate in Google Meet video conferences. Live captioning converts other participants to text so all students can follow the meeting.
Subtitles work in many languages, including Polish – the student can, however, at any time change the language in the meeting settingsto better understand an online English, German or French lesson.
Extension of the accessibility function by add-ons
Thanks to the cloud-based architecture, Google tools are flexible and stimulate the creativity of the community of external developers creating useful integrations. If a student needs additional settings, they can download free add-ons from the Chrome Web Store specifically programmed for use with the Chrome browser and Google apps.
You can find a list of add-ons that increase the accessibility of the application and content for students with disabilities on this page.
How to use Google Workspace for Education for free?
Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals is free for all primary, secondary, or college schools that:
- are institutions accredited and recognised by state authorities,
- award nationally or internationally recognised certificates of primary, secondary or higher education.
FOTC, as a Google Cloud Partner, will help your educational institution start using this free solution. Three steps to do this:
- contact with a certified specialist in the implementation of Google Workspace in schools and universities.
- Together you will create a free account for your organization. While your school is enjoying 30 days of free testing, Google will review the necessary documents and decide if you are eligible for Fundamentals.
- After a positive Google decision, you will get help in configuring the remaining settings. From now on, school staff and students can use the basic package free of charge, and administrators they can always count on FOTC’s technical support.
Chromebooks – Laptops designed for inclusive teaching in the Google ecosystem
In order to meet the diverse needs of students, it is important to provide them not only with the appropriate software, but also with safe learning equipment. Chromebooks are laptops based on Chrome OS, which was designed with the everyday use of Google applications in mind.
To learn more about how Chromebooks work and use, watch the video on these laptops on our YouTube channel.
How do I use Chromebooks at school?
Due to the fact that logging in to the Chromebook is done using the Gmail address and password for the Google Workspace for Education account, this type of equipment range works well in schools as:
- Personal study laptop – A Chromebook can be assigned to one student for the duration of the entire school year. Thanks to this, students can use them both in the school building and during online lessons or their own work after class.
- Classroom equipment – a laptop with Chrome OS is a good complement to any workstation in the classroom. It is a useful teaching aid not only for computer science lessons, but also for writing, interactive language learning or multimedia teaching of any subject.
- Pass-through equipment – the school can also run a Chromebook “rental” for the whole day of classes or for the duration of studying at the library.
After signing out of a Chromebook, students don’t have to worry about leaving their data on the Chromebook for other users to see – everyone works in your own cloud workspace.
Personalize the accessibility feature in your Google Account
A student with a disability must adjust laptop settings in your Google account only once – the selected options will always be available after logging in on any device with Chrome OS. This ensures that schools and classrooms where students do not have permanently assigned computers, everyone can use the shared equipment the way they like – without wasting valuable time with each lesson setting up.
For all configuration options to help people with disabilities use your Chromebook, see Advanced settings in the bookmarke Facilitate access > Manage accessibility.
Chromebook settings for students with visual impairment
The Chromebook gives users the ability to adjust options for text size and interface, resolution, and blue light blocking mode – these settings can be useful to anyone who spends a lot of time looking at the screen. However, there are also many settings prepared especially for people with visual impairment.
High contrast mode
High contrast mode is color inversion filter applied to all content displayed on the laptop screen – not only on the system and browser interface elements, but also on the content of visited websites and applications. When using this mode, it is easier to visually distinguish between the different symbols on the screen, making it easier for visually impaired students to read and browse the web. The hotkey for quickly launching high contrast mode is Ctrl + Search + H
Two screen magnification modes
The magnifier tool on Chromebooks can be turned on in one of two modes:
- Full screen magnifier – Shortcut Ctrl + Search + M enlarges the entire screen, and the user can pan the view with the mouse or arrows (holding down the Ctrl and Alt keys)
- Docked magnifier – after activating this option, an area enlarging the part of the screen where the mouse cursor is located appears at the top of the screen.
Text-to-speech in Chrome OS
Students can trigger voice prompts using two functions:
- ChromeVox – built-in screen reader that can be run on any page with a shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Z
- Select to Speak feature – reads the selected text fragment using a shortcut Search + S.
The default text-to-speech voice can be further adjusted in the settings – the student can change its tone, volume and speed of speech.
Chromebook options for hearing impaired students
students who cannot hear in one ear can set mono sound from both Chromebook speakers to hear every word clearly.
You can also set multiple in Chrome OS live caption display parameters in applications and on websites.
Chromebooks support students with physical disabilities
People with a laptop typing problem can boot on-screen keyboard and use it with the touchscreen, mouse or joystick. Additionally, you can run permanent keys for quick use of shortcuts or word prediction while writing. Typing on a Chromebook can also be completely contactless thanks to the feature text dictation.
contact with FOTC Chrome Enterprise Hardware Distributor for the best wholesale Chromebook deal for your school.