Young students are reading news websites (geared for kids) and completing Internet searches as part of their class assignments. According to the Common Core State Standards K-12 Technology Skills, students are introduced to web browsers in first grade. Of course there are safety protocols in place, including the use of ‘kid-friendly’ websites and teaching students about Internet safety. Just like their peers, students who are visually impaired are also using the Internet to complete classroom assignments.
Ideally, AT specialists and/or CATIS certified staff are responsible for teaching technology to students who are visually impaired. However, many schools do not have these specially trained staff so the responsibility falls on the TVIs. Students who are visually impaired often need instruction on the best ways to access and navigate websites. iOS devices have a wonderful – but often overlooked – feature that is beneficial for many students, especially students who are blind or low vision. The Reader feature is designed to unclutter the screen so that students can focus on article. Most website articles have numerous buttons and clutter at the top of the screen and may have ads or columns with additional information. This additional information can be visually distracting for students with low vision and make navigating the article challenging for students who use a screen reader. (The screen reader focus may jump outside the article to the buttons or other text, which is confusing for a visually impaired user.)
Video tutorial demonstrating the Reader feature and basic website navigation with VoiceOver:
Note: The Reader feature was previously located to the left of the website’s URL; now, the Page Settings button (little A and Large A symbol) is located to the left of the URL. Select the Page Settings button, in the popup menu, swipe right once to reach the Show Reader button. Select the toggle button to show the Reader.
You can choose for the Reader to automatically be on for any article opened in this website by selecting an article > Page Settings > Website Settings > Use Reader Automatically (toggle on)
Browsing the Web: Video Tutorials post (includes video tutorials on browsing with a desktop screen reader, mobile device screen reader, keyboard, screen magnification and speech recognition)
By Diane Brauner