An introduction to assistive technologies built into the MacBook
I’m not an expert on assistive technology, but I have made learning more about it a priority. I was inspired by Louis Perez, a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, who is an expert in assistive technology. Louis made me think differently about assistive technology and the importance of it being built into devices, not something that is added on. I wrote down this quote from him that has really stuck with me, “Creativity belongs to everyone… technology is the great equalizer.” I encourage you to check out his website and his book, Mobile Learning for All: Supporting Accessibility With the iPad.
This post aims to provide teachers with a brief overview of assistive technology features that are built into the MacBook. This post is split into four sections:
Part 1: Vision Accessibility Features
Features to help students with vision disabilities get more from their MacBook
Accessing Accessibility Features
Most of the features in this post can be accessed by clicking Accessibility under System Preferences
Voice over allows for complete control of your Mac without needing to see the screen.
- It tells you what’s on your screen
- Walks you through actions like: selecting a menu option or activating a button using the keyboard or trackpad
- Available in over 30 languages.
- Also works with native apps in iOS.
Zoom is a built-in magnifier.
- Enlarge your screen up to 20X
- Magnify the full screen or use picture-in-picture.
Dictation provides the ability to talk where you would type. Just navigate to any text field, activate dictation, and say what you want to write.
- Reply to an email.
- Search the web.
- Write a report, etc.
- Works in over 40 languages.
Set contrast options systemwide. I’ve had students with color blindness use this option for certain websites (i.e. being able to see the different sections of a pie-chart).
- Increase contrast to enhance definition.
- Enable grayscale.
- Invert colors.
- Reduce transparency (in some apps).
Magnify your cursor to make it easier to see where you are.
- Set the cursor size once and it stays magnified.
- Swipe back and fourth on your trackpad and the pointer grows.
- More than 50 refreshable braille displays that work with VoiceOver.
- No additional software needed.
I recently had the opportunity to work with the Refreshbraille 18, and was amazed by how quick it was to get set up on a MacBook.
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