You may have read previous articles that I’ve written on touch typing. One of the first ones I wrote was Five Resources to Teach Keyboarding Skills and featured Typio. I also wrote a second article some time later that featured Typio Online. And if you liked those programs, hold on because you’re going to love the newest offerings from Accessibyte.
Accessibyte Online is a self-voicing and completely online program that is accessed through the Google Chrome browser. You do not need to use an external screen reader to access the content. Though this program can be accessed on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook, it cannot, at this time, be accessed in the Google Chrome app on iOS.
All menus and settings are navigated using the arrow keys, space bar, and enter key. Directions on which keys to press are provided both verbally and with a “caption panel” that runs across the bottom of the screen.
Settings for print type/color, voice output speed, and other settings are available in each app and can be customized for your students.
Accessibyte Online is comprised of several different “apps” or “programs” that the student can access. Each component is designed to focus on a specific set of skills.
Since there is an entire article already available on Typio Online, we’re going to focus on the other aspects of Accessibyte in this installment.
Quick cards is an accessible learning tool that can be set up for a student to practice using virtual flashcards.
Studying for a test or reviewing terms with a classmate is very easy with this built-in application. Cards can be “assigned” by a teacher (if he/she subscribes to the Teacher Dashboard) or created by a student.
Once a deck is created or assigned by a teacher, students can navigate to the deck using the self-voicing menus. If the student chooses “study mode” the cards can be reviewed. The user will use the arrows to navigate between cards and the space bar to “flip” the card from side A to side B. The text is available in large type (which is selected in the settings section of the app) and it is also read by the speech synthesizer.
When in “test” mode, the user is presented with a term from Side A and a multiple choice option for Side B. He or she must choose the correct answer from the possibilities presented. If the answer is correct, he or she may progress to the next card. If it is not correct, the user will hear a noise indicating the choice was incorrect and will be given more opportunities to make the correct selection.
Accessibyte Arcade is comprised of several different accessible games. They are Samurai, Canteen, Echo, Hangman, and Wizards Tower. For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on Hangman.
After the user has selected Hangman from the list of options, he or she is presented with different categories from which the program will choose a random word. At this point, spaces indicating the number of letters in the word appear and the number of letters the word has is announced.
The player uses the keys on the keyboard to guess letters. When a guess is correct, you will hear a bell sound and the letter is inserted into the word. When the guess is incorrect, a “chomp” is heard and a “bite” is taken out of a doughnut that is displayed on the screen. For each incorrect guess, another bite is taken from the doughnut until all ten chances are used up.
At any time, the player may press control to hear the letters you’ve guessed correctly and their location in the word. For example, in the picture above, the prompt would say “one word, five letters blank O blank S E”. They may also press space to hear the letters already guessed and how many guesses remain.
Pro Pack is a selection of accessible apps that can be used in the classroom. Options are Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Notepad, Reader, Calculator, and To-Do. For now, let’s focus on just two of these apps.
The dictionary app (powered by Oxford) is a simple tool that can be used to look up words to find a definition. In the “spirit” (pun intended) of Halloween, here is a screen capture of what appears on the screen when searching for the word “spook”. As you can see, you are told that there are three definitions, the first of which is a noun and is defined as “a ghost”. Using the arrow keys will move you among definitions.
Another app in the Pro Pack is a calculator. This is a very simple and easy to read calculator and is, of course, self-voicing. The minimalist view is great for students who have difficulty with sorting out visual clutter.
The Teacher Dashboard is a means of creating and personalizing content for your students. This is an add-on option that allows the teacher to create Typio lessons, Quick Card Decks, or other content that students can use to enhance their learning experience. The Teacher Dashboard can also be used to track student progress such as typing speed/accuracy. For teachers who simply need the information to monitor progress, this is a great additional tool that puts student data at your fingertips.
The developer obviously spent quite a bit of time on this project and put some thought and creativity into the design. The apps described here are only a selection of those available with a subscription. Both teachers and parents will be pleased with the number of options available with Accessibyte Online.
Speaking as an educator, I’m often looking for engaging and educational options to use in the classroom or recommend to parents. Sadly, it seems that many of the services that schools purchase are not accessible for children who are blind or visually impaired. It’s great to know that there is at least one resource out there for our unique student population.