Accessibility Features on my iMac

I’ve been studying various accessibility/assistive technology tools this week. What an exciting area of growth that benefits so many people!

My EdTech 541 project page features several integration strategies for students of all abilities. Many of the tools, apps, websites, and devices listed not only benefit students with physical or sensory impairments, but also students who are struggling in various content areas. I also touch briefly on some tools for gifted and talented students and those up for a good challenge.

This post will take a look at some of the accessibility features built-in to the computer I use every day. I have experimented with them and seen briefly how they might really help students with various special needs.

Meet my accessible iMac:
Model: 27-inch 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3 iMac
Date: mid-2010
Operating System: Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3
This is one powerful machine and I adore it.

I created this Clarify-It screen tutorial to give an overview of some of the basic accessibility features on my iMac. There are many other features that are listed on Apple’s Accessibility website.

The iPad and iPod are also very powerful machines with a different set of accessibility features built-in.

It is wonderful that so many tools are built in to the operating systems of computers and portable devices. This truly gives many students the opportunity to use and enjoy computers in a way that would otherwise not be possible.

Resources:
Apple: Accessibility features on a Apple devices
NASET: Overview of vision impairments
OATS
: Open source assistive technology software
AbleData
: resource for assistive technology information
OCAD University
: Inclusive Design Research Centre
CAST
: Center for Applied Special Technology
Microsoft
: Accessibility features on Windows
NICHCY
: Offers a wealth of information on disabilities
DO-IT Center
: promotes the success of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers, using technology as an empowering tool
WebAIM
: Web accessibility evaluation tool
Building Accessible Websites
: free online book

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Introduction to Web Accessibility

I love to learn something about which I had no clue initially: web accessibility is one of these topics for me. I had no idea!

This week’s assignment in EdTech 502 was to research various issues relating to web accessibility and then design a page full of hot links to that information. I learned all sorts of things I had no idea about, like W3C guidelines and Section 508 standards that web designers should adhere to. I didn’t realize the number of assistive devices that help people with disabilities access the Internet, for example, or the variety of disabilities that require special assistance when browsing the Web.

I came away with a new responsibility as a future web designer and EdTech professional to ensure that accessibility features are enabled in everything I do. Browsers have many built-in accessibility tools, if designers will just make the extra effort to build them into their pages. The Internet is such a wonderful tool, and everyone should be able to fully utilize it.

I also relearned that writing code is not for the faint of heart. I worked very hard on this page and it still looks like my 9-year-old son designed it.  Nonetheless, I’m proud of it, and I’m really hoping this gets easier.