Digital technologies for accessible learning and teaching

The DA4You project has identified a need for more resources and tailored guidance on digital accessibility for educators. This Toolbox is designed to be a practical, hands-on toolkit for educators who wish to learn more about the different types of technologies and methods they can use to make their learning and teaching practice more accessible.

Table of Contents

1.  Introduction

2.  Accessible approaches to learning and teaching

3.  Making learning and teaching materials accessible

3.1        How to make your text, images, audios and videos accessible

3.1.1     How do I make my text accessible?

3.1.2     How do I make my images accessible?

3.1.3     How do I make my audio accessible?

3.1.4     How do I make my videos accessible?

3.2        Accessibility on Learning Management Systems (LMS)

3.3        Accessibility in desktop productivity applications

3.4        How can I check that my documents are accessible?

3.5        How can I ensure that my online meetings are accessible?

4.  Digital accessibility tools for learning and teaching

4.1        Subtitles and Captions (S&C)

4.1.1     What are subtitles and captions?

4.1.2     How can S&C help learners and teachers?

4.1.3     Types of S&C tools

4.1.4     Basic Subtitling/Captioning Conventions

4.1.5     Transcripts (if subtitles are not available)

4.1.6     Tips for using S&C in learning and teaching contexts

4.1.7     To learn more about S&C

4.2        Audio description (AD)

4.2.1     What is AD?

4.2.2     How can AD help learners and teachers?

4.2.3     Types of AD tools

4.2.4     Basic Tips for Doing AD

4.2.5     Tips for using AD in learning and teaching contexts

4.2.7     To learn more about AD

4.3        Speech-to-Text Technology (STT) and Voice/Speech Recognition Software (VRS/SRS)

4.3.1     What are STT and VRS/SRS?

4.3.2     How can STT and VRS/SRS help learners and teachers?

4.3.3     Types of STT and VRS/SRS tools

4.3.4     Tips for using STT and VRS/SRS

4.3.5     Tips for using STT and VRS/SRS in learning and teaching contexts

4.3.6     To learn more about STT and VRS/SRS

4.4        Text-to-Speech Technology (TTS) and screen readers

4.4.1     What are TTS and screen readers?

4.4.2    How can TTS and screen readers help learners and teachers?

4.4.3    Types of TTS tools

4.4.4    Tips for using TTS and screen readers in learning and teaching contexts

4.4.5    To learn more about TTS and screen readers

4.5        Assistive technology for reading and writing

4.5.1     What is assistive technology for reading and writing?

4.5.2    How can reading and writing tools help learners and teachers?

4.5.3    Types of reading and writing apps and software

4.5.4    Tips for using reading and writing tools in teaching and learning contexts

4.5.5    To learn more about reading and writing tools

4.6      Screen magnification

4.6.1    What are screen magnifiers?

4.6.2    How can screen magnification help learners and teachers?

4.6.3    Types of screen magnification tools

4.6.4    Tips for using screen magnification in teaching and learning contexts

4.6.5    To learn more about screen magnification

4.7      Digital Braille

4.7.1    What is digital Braille?

4.7.2    How can digital Braille help learners and teachers?

4.7.3    Types of digital Braille tools

4.7.4    Tips for using digital Braille in teaching and learning contexts

4.7.5    To learn more about digital Braille

4.8       Display accommodations and other built in accessibility features

4.9       Country-specific accessibility tools

5.  More information and resources

5.1        International /national laws/regulations that cover digital accessibility in educational contexts in partner countries

5.2       Relevant associations, organisations and government departments in the partner countries

5.3       Further resources on digital accessibility from partner countries





1.    Introduction


Due to rapid advances in technology, course designers, teachers and trainers have more options than ever to use technologies to make learning and teaching accessible to all learners. Digital accessibility methods and tools have a fundamental part to play in creating equitable learning opportunities for all learners and make it possible for learners to learn in many different ways. However, the wide range of tools, platforms and devices available, with so many features and uses and with new tools being developed all the time, it can seem rather overwhelming and difficult for busy educators to know where to start to become familiar with the most widely-used tools and to choose those that are most effective for making their learning and teaching materials accessible to their learners.


The DA4You project, the project for which this guide has been created, has identified a need for more resources and tailored guidance on digital accessibility for educators. Therefore, this guide is designed to be a practical, hands-on toolkit for educators who wish to learn more about the different types of technologies and methods they can use to make their learning and teaching practice more accessible to all learners. Moreover, while DA4You is aimed at digital accessibility training for young adults, this guide has been designed to apply to a range of different educational contexts with learners of other ages. We hope you will find it useful.


The next section of this guide begins by presenting some of the most important concepts and approaches in terms of making learning and teaching accessible to all. Section 3 presents guidance for creating accessible learning and teaching materials, including text, images, audio and video materials. It also covers accessibility on Learning Management Systems (LMS), desktop productivity applications and in online meetings. Section 4 gives an overview of different digital accessibility tools, provides information on the most widely used apps, software and devices, and discusses how they can help learners and teachers and be used in educational settings. It covers a wide range of categories of tools, including subtitles/captions, audio description, speech-to-text and text-to-speech technologies, assistive technologies for reading and writing, screen magnifiers, digital Braille, display accommodations and other built in accessibility features. Section 5 offers further information, such as on laws and regulations that cover digital accessibility in educational contexts, resources, and relevant associations for people with disabilities, government departments and digital accessibility organisations in the partner countries. As the DA4You project partners are based in the UK, Sweden and Denmark, information will be provided relevant to the three countries.


2.    Accessible approaches to learning and teaching


The social model of disability is a way of understanding the real life experiences of people with disabilities in society. It has been developed by disabled people over the last 40 years to take action against the oppression and discrimination they face. It also challenges traditional views of disabled people as to be pitied or cared for, or according to the medical model of disability, as having a medical problem that needs to be prevented or cured. The social model of disability states that the oppression, exclusion and discrimination that disabled people face is not caused by their impairment, but is a result of the barriers created by the way society is organised and run. The model explains that  these barriers include discriminatory attitudes of people in society towards disabled people, physical barriers such as inaccessible buildings, and communication barriers caused by inaccessible information. Being disabled is part of the normal spectrum of human life, and society should be organised to ensure that disabled people are included and can fully participate in all aspects of life, on an equal basis with everyone else. There is also legislation at international and national levels protecting disabled people’s right to equal educational opportunities (see section 5.1).


This means that all aspects of education and training should be fully accessible to disabled people of all ages, including physical and online environments, curricula, and learning and teaching materials. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach has been developed by education researchers at the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) since 1984 to eliminate barriers to learning and maximise learning opportunities for all learners, from early childhood to adulthood. The UDL approach recognises that each learner has their own individual background, skills, needs, and interests and provides a framework for effective learning and teaching for all. It is based on the concept of Universal Design and on the idea that if something is designed to cater for people whose needs have long been marginalised, in the end the design will meet everyone’s needs better. Moreover, the UDL framework goes beyond the idea of enabling access as learning environments and opportunities also need to provide support and challenge. There are three UDL principles for eliminating barriers to learning: Representation, Action & Expression and Engagement. Representation means making information available in multiple media, and providing varied supports. Learners should also have access to various means of Action & Expression, of putting into practice and expressing what they have learned. Finally, the Engagement principle is about providing a diverse range of ways to stimulate interest and motivation for learning.


The information presented in sections 3 and 4 of this guide is aimed at assisting educators in implementing a UDL approach as it provides guidance on making learning and teaching materials accessible, whether they are presented in text, image, audio or video format, and on the use of digital accessibility tools, whether by educators to make learning and teaching materials accessible, by learners to put their learning into practice and complete tasks and assessments, or to increase motivation, confidence and engage learners. Learners can choose to use different digital accessibility tools for different activities, and be part of the decision-making process. Using digital accessibility tools also helps learners to build their technology skills as they read instructions, explore menus, and learn shortcuts / commands. Moreover, it enables them to access the same learning and teaching activities as their peers and to keep their learning fun and relevant.




3.    Making learning and teaching materials accessible


As explained in the previous section, learners have individual skills, needs and preferences, and as a result will need / prefer to access learning and teaching materials in different formats and media. Here are some examples:


  • Many people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or have difficulty processing auditory information benefit from getting audio information from transcripts or captions. Some people prefer sign language.
  • Some people who are blind or have low vision can’t see videos well or at all and they use audio description of visual information to understand what’s going on visually.
  • Some people who are Deaf-blind use a screen reader and braille to read descriptive transcripts that include the audio and visual information as text.
  • Some people who cannot use their hands use voice recognition software to operate their computer, including the media player.
  • Some people use multiple accessibility features simultaneously. For example, some might want captions, a description of visual information as text, and a description in audio.


However, as discussed earlier, creating accessible learning and teaching materials in a variety of formats and using accessibility tools will benefit all learners. This section contains guidance on creating learning and teaching materials that are accessible to learners, whether they are in text, image, audio or video form, or a combination of these[1]. It also provides information on accessibility in Learning Management Systems (LMS) and commonly used Microsoft applications such as Word or Excel. Moreover, it includes guidance on how to check that your learning and teaching materials are accessible and on making online meetings accessible.


3.1  How to make your text, images, audios and videos accessible


3.1.1      How do I make my text accessible?


  • Structure your text well, using content tables and headings. This will help it be read out loud and navigated by screen readers or other assistive technologies, maintaining the logical order embedded in the text.
  • Use the simplest language that is appropriate for your document.
  • Use a point size of minimum 12.
  • Use a sans-serif font such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana.
  • For online texts, use the fonts Verdana, Tahoma and Trebuchet MS, which are specially designed for reading on a screen.
  • Allow the user to change font and point size as needed in online texts.
  • Left align text instead of using block text (full justification).
  • Provide the full name the first time you use abbreviations and acronyms.
  • Use ‘Bullets and Numbering’ functions for lists.
  • Add short summaries of content or chapter where possible.
  • Ensure that colours and the use of bold and italics are not your only method of conveying meaning.
  • Ensure that all information conveyed with colour is also available without colour. Do not rely on colour alone to highlight different content.
  • Give data tables row and column headers and describe their content in a summary.


3.1.2      How do I make my images accessible?


  • Avoid adding images that do not provide any additional, meaningful or valuable information.
  • Avoid using images to represent text.
  • Give your images alternative text: a description that shares the same message as the visual image.
  • Avoid use of red, green and yellow, and lighter greys.
  • Avoid hyperlinks or text being hidden behind other objects such as images.
  • Allow the size of online images to be scalable as needed.


3.1.3      How do I make my audio accessible?


  • Share the audio information as text (captions or transcript) or as a sign language video.
  • Provide volume controls.
  • Provide visual equivalents to audio alerts.
  • Avoid automatic playing of audio or video.
  • Provide keyboard-accessible fast forward, rewind and pause functions.


3.1.4      How do I make my videos accessible?


  • Provide subtitles/captions of the words spoken for users who cannot access the audio channels.
  • Provide a script if subtitles/captions are not available.
  • Ensure the text equivalent/script or captions are synchronised with the video.
  • Provide an audio description of what can be seen for users who cannot access visual media channels.
  • Avoid automatic playing of video.
  • Ensure the user can control the video: adjust volume, fast forward, rewind and pause functions.
  • Ensure the video can be played in different media players.
  • Ensure the video can be downloaded.






3.2  Accessibility on Learning Management Systems (LMS)


A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs. The learning management system concept emerged directly from e-Learning. These are the accessibility features of the most commonly used LMS:



3.3  Accessibility in desktop productivity applications


Productivity applications are a category of application programs that help users produce things such as documents, databases, graphs, worksheets and presentations. This section includes the accessibility features of the most common productivity application in Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint and Excel).


The main features of Microsoft Office Accessibility include:


  • Vision: for people who are blind, colour blind, or have low vision.

Vision related tools

  • Hearing: for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Hearing-assistive tools

  • Neurodiversity: for those who live with dyslexia, seizures, autism, or other cognitive differences.

Tools for neurodiversity

  • Learning: for people living with learning disabilities to help increase focus, concentration, and understanding.

Tools for learning

  • Mobility: for people living with arthritis, quadriplegia, spinal cord injuries, and other mobility issues to navigate the digital world in non-traditional ways.

Mobility-assistive technologies

  • Mental health: for people living with issues such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, depression, or ADHD.

Mental health assistive tools


These are useful links for accessibility tools in Windows:


3.4  How can I check that my documents are accessible?


These are the steps to use the accessibility checkers in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and PDF.


Accessibility checker in Word

  1. Select File > Info.
  2. Select the “Check for Issues button” in the “Inspect Document” area.
  3. Click the “Check Accessibility” command to launch the task pane.
  4. A list of “Errors” and/or “Warnings” may appear.




Accessibility checker in PowerPoint

  1. Select File > Info.
  2. Select the “Check for Issues button” and choose “Check Accessibility”.
  3. In the Check for Issues drop-down menu, select Check for Issues.
  4. Select the “Review tab”, then choose “Check Accessibility”.


Accessibility checker in Excel

  1. Select File > Info.
  2. Select the Check for Issues button.
  3. In the Check for Issues drop-down menu, select Check for Issues.
  4. The Accessibility Checker task pane appears next to your content and shows the inspection results.


Accessibility checker in PDF (Acrobat Reader)

  1. Open de document.
  2. Add the Accessibility Tool to your Toolbar: Click on the Tools Tab > Click the Add button below the Accessibility Tool.
  3. Return to Document View: Click on the Document Tab.
  4. Open the Accessibility Toolbar: Click on the Accessibility Tool in the Toolbar on the right side of the window.
  5. Run a Full Check of the document: Click on Full Check in the Accessibility Toolbar on the right side of the window > Click on Start Checking to run the Accessibility Checker.
  6. View the results:
  • The Accessibility Checker panel will be opened on the left side of the window.
  • Click on each category to expand that section:
    • A green checkmark indicates that the test was passed.
    • A red X indicates that the test was failed.
    • A blue question mark indicates that the test must be done manually.
  • Some items can be fixed automatically by Acrobat, and some will need to be fixed manually.
  • Right-click on each item to see if they can be automatically fixed.
    • If the item cannot be fixed automatically, click on Explain to open the item’s section in the Acrobat User Guide.
    • You will find a description of the reported issue and directions on how to fix it.


Accessibility checker in PDF (Adobe Pro DC)

  1. Start by selecting Accessibility Tools.
  2. Select Full Check command from the Accessibility Tools panel to open the Accessibility Checker Options dialogue, select the Report Options to save the results as an HTML file or attach the report to the document.
  3. Use the default “All Pages” to check all pages or select a page range to check on individual sections of a document.
  4. Select a Category of Document, Page Content, Forms, Tables and Lists, or Alternate Text and Headings to modify the accessibility Checking Options. By default, everything but “tables must have a summary” is checked.
  5. Select the Start Checking button to begin the full check


3.5  How can I ensure that my online meetings are accessible?


The following links provide information about the accessibility features of the most common online meeting platforms:


Other useful accessibility resources


4. Digital accessibility tools for learning and teaching


This section gives an overview of a wide range of different digital accessibility tools, provides information on the most commonly used apps, software and devices, and discusses how they can be used to support learning and teaching in educational contexts. It covers a broad range of categories of tools, including subtitles/captions, audio description, speech-to-text and text-to-speech technologies, assistive technologies for reading and writing, screen magnifiers, digital braille, display accommodations and other built in accessibility features. A list of accessibility tools available in the partner countries of Sweden and Denmark is also provided.


Many of the tools included here were originally designed for / used with learners with disabilities, but as discussed in section 2, it is now increasingly understood that the use of these tools in educational contexts can benefit all learners. As can be seen below, the tools are organised into separate categories for ease of reference. However, it should be noted that some tools are often used together or are combined in one app / piece of software, such as text-to-speech and voice recognition or screen readers and screen magnifiers. The boundaries between the categories listed below are becoming increasingly blurred as the range, sophistication and use of these tools grow. While this section aims to include a broad selection of the most commonly used tools at this time, it is beyond the scope of this guide to cover many other specialised assistive technologies that are currently available. This guide also focuses more on apps and software than on devices, although it should be noted that tablets have contributed significantly to greater accessibility in learning and teaching contexts and have considerable further potential, given that they are light and easier to use for some learners than laptops and therefore support independent learning.



4.1  Subtitles and Captions (S&C)


4.1.1      What are subtitles and captions?


Subtitles are the written rendering of the dialogue or commentary in audiovisual media, displayed on the screen in sync with the audio. They can either be a translation of a dialogue in a foreign language, or a written rendering of the dialogue in the same language. In either case, they can have additional information on the soundtrack to make the video accessible to viewers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. They can also include on-screen titles or text in graphics like street signs or newspaper headlines. The subtitles that contain information to make them accessible to viewers who are Deaf or Hard-of-hearing (SDH) are called Captions in the US and Canada.


4.1.2      How can S&C help learners and teachers?


S&C can help learners and teachers as they:


  • provide access to spoken languages and other sounds in video materials to learners who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
  • enhance access to verbal information in video materials for learners who are minority language speakers learning the official language of the country in which they live and are receiving education / training.
  • may bring educational benefits for learners with other disabilities, such as autism and dyslexia.
  • provide all learners with practice in reading authentic text.
  • can help those with reading and literacy problems and those who are learning to read.
  • help improve comprehension skills when compared to viewers watching the same media without them.
  • can help establish a systematic link between the written word and the spoken word.
  • provide missing information for individuals who have difficulty processing speech and auditory components of the visual.
  • help reduce the likelihood of concentration fatigue.
  • can boost learners’ motivation and engagement in reading.


Moreover, subtitles can help as they:


  • can be very beneficial to those learning foreign languages.
  • offer access to other cultures across the globe.
  • assist with comprehension of strong accents, mumbling and loud background noise.


4.1.3      Types of S&C tools


There are many tools available, some free of charge.


Apps to create subtitles

App Description iOS / Android Free/Payment
MixCaptions: Video Subtitles


This app adds subtitles to videos for YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. The process of creating subtitles is very fast. iOS Free
Clips This app allows to capture captions as you speak; more importantly, you can access and edit the caption text to correct any errors. iOS Free
MySubtitle This app is a movie editing application which makes it easy to add subtitles and images to your videos. iOS Free
Subbr Free: Subtitle Editor This app allows to convert and edit subtitles. and it fixes errors in the subtitles. Android Free
AutoCap This app offers automatic video captions and subtitles. You can either record a video or select an existing video to caption. By default, the system auto-selects a word to emphasize in yellow within each group of captions; you can manually edit the captions and adjust the emphasized word. Android Free, although the service will add its logo to the exported video. A one-time payment lets you remove the logo from a video, or you can pay a monthly subscription.
Add Subtitles – Automatic

This app allows to create subtitles on social videos. It uses modern automatic voice recognition technology. It can work with video of unlimited length. Once you select a subtitle language, the app recognizes the original text and qualitatively translates it into other languages. iOS Free only using camera.

Payment if wanted to access videos from the photo/video library on the phone.

Caption This

This app offers the options to auto-caption video as you record or to auto-create captions for previously recorded video. The app also works with video in portrait, landscape, or square aspect ratios. iOS $2.99


Apps to read subtitles

App Description iOS/ Android Free/Payment

iOS & Android

This app enables people with dyslexia to get the subtitles read aloud on movies. iOS & Android




Apps to add subtitles

App Description iOS / Android Free/Payment
Get Subtitles


This app allows to find multi-language subtitles for films and TV shows. It downloads subtitled files and adds them to films. This app automatically searches for subtitled files on smartphones. Files work on phones, tablets, PCs, and laptops. It is easy to watch movies with subtitles. Android Free
Easy Subtitles


This app supports several file formats and you can edit the subtitle text directly in the app. Android Free
Subtitles Viewer

iOS & Android

This subtitle app syncs with a smart TV. You can watch films in the original language with subtitles. The app has more than 100 languages. iOS and Android Free


4.1.4      Basic Subtitling/Captioning Conventions


These are some general subtitling and captioning conventions:


  • Subtitles are usually positioned in the centre towards the bottom of the screen. They should be place at the top to avoid obscuring ‘on-screen’ captions, any part of a speaker’s mouth or any other important information.
  • A maximum subtitle length of two lines is recommended. Three lines may be used for SDH if no important picture information will be obscured.
  • For speaker identification, there are several options: hyphens to identify each character speaking, place names of people in brackets or use colours (white, yellow, cyan, green).
  • Use [Presenter] or [Narrator] if not naming directly.
  • Indicate song lyrics with #.
  • Include symbols (♫) to denote music playing.
  • Capitalise first word in new sentences.
  • Don’t include subtitles if there’s no talking as much as possible.
  • Subtitles must be on screen long enough to read and should be synchronized with the time of the speech. Subtitle appearance should coincide with speech onset and disappearance with the end of the corresponding speech segment.


4.1.5      Transcripts (if subtitles are not available)


A transcript is a text-version of a video, which includes a meaningful description of all narration, dialogue, and sound effects. A transcript should include also descriptions of actions or important information on-screen. When captioning options are not available, attaching an accessible text-based transcript document to the video might be possible.


4.1.6      Tips for using S&C in learning and teaching contexts


  • Use S&C every time you use video in the classroom or when providing videos for independent learning.
  • When directing learners to watch videos on TV or the internet as part of their independent learning activities, include instructions on how to turn on the S&C if available.
  • Subtitled or captioned videos can be a very effective tool for teachers seeking to differentiate classroom instruction.
  • Providing information both textually and through the use of video (where appropriate) can be motivating, engaging and fun for learners.
  • Consider using shorter videos, such as interviews with musicians and actors or other pop culture content with learners who may find it difficult to concentrate on reading S&C for prolonged periods of time.
  • Consider recommending that learners turn on the S&C when watching TV, films and other video content at home.
  • Learners can have a go at subtitling / captioning themselves, whether it be clips of songs, movies or documentaries, or even video clips they have made themselves!


4.1.7      To learn more about S&C


AI Media: Subtitles for the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (SDH) – Subtitles, Closed Captions, and SDH

Reading Rockets: Captioning to Support Literacy

Article in The Conversation: Why children should be watching TV with the subtitles on

The Turn on the Subtitles campaign: Turning on the subtitles improves literacy

Mindful Research: Autistic spectrum, captions and audio description


4.2  Audio description (AD)


4.2.1      What is AD?


Voice-over narration, placed during natural pauses in the audio of a video or theatre play and sometimes during dialogue if deemed necessary. Its purpose is to provide information on key visual elements, actions, etc. in audiovisual media for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired audience.


4.2.2      How can AD help learners and teachers?


AD can help learners and teachers as it:


  • provides access to visual information in videos to learners with sight loss.
  • can increase learners’ awareness of sight loss.
  • can be used to motivate learners to engage in close reading of visual material and think critically about interpreting visual information.
  • helps language development as listening is a key step in learning language.
  • may assist in the acquisition of language vocabulary and reading skills via an interchange between the use of voice and the relevant sounds and images on screen, to create meaning.
  • provides a more comprehensive and global picture of visual media and increases understanding and thereby facilitates comprehension.
  • helps people with autism spectrum disorders as they may have difficulties recognising emotional cues, such as facial expressions and gestures.
  • High quality AD is succinct and context-relevant, making listening to description a useful tool for improving written and oral communication skills.


4.2.3      Types of AD tools


Audio description Apps on iOS, smartphones, iPads and tablets


App Description iOS/ Android Free/Payment
Greta This app enables people with sight loss to experience fully accessible cinema. iOS Free
Earcatch iOS & Android This app offers audio description for films and series. iOS & Android Free

iOS & Android


This app allows smartphones or tablets to display perfectly synchronized subtitles or audio description of any movie, in any theatre, with the simple push of a button.


iOS & Android




4.2.4      Basic Tips for Doing AD


Tips for Writing Descriptions

  • Describe the visual elements that are important to understand what the video is communicating. Don’t describe every detail or things that are apparent from the audio.
  • Describe objectively, without interpretation or personal views.
  • Write descriptions in present tense and third-person narrative style.


Tips for Recording Descriptions

  • Use a voice, style, and delivery that is distinguishable from other voices used in the video.
  • Use a neutral voice that does not convey emotions.
  • Record the descriptions at the same time as the visual content, or right before the visual content, never after the visual content.


4.2.5      Tips for using AD in learning and teaching contexts


  • Invite learners to describe an image that other learners cannot see. Ask them to point out the aspects of the image that draw their attention most and to discuss how the image makes them feel. Any learners who are blind or with low vision ask questions, probe for further details and discuss the contradictions in the different descriptions. Sighted learners who couldn’t see the image can look at it and comment on the differences between what they visualised and what they now see, on the most helpful and misleading aspects of the descriptions, etc.
  • Learners make lists of nouns and adjectives to describe an image, including the objects in it and/or their emotional responses to it. Learners then compare their lists and discuss choices, noting and discussing which aspects are emphasised or ignored. The discussion can be led by learners who are blind or with low vision. Then all learners create paragraphs in groups, describing the images using the nouns and adjectives, which could be a narrative or a journalistic / scientific piece of writing.
  • Learners take part in group projects involving creating and recording their own AD scripts. Suggested guidelines for this exercise can be found here.


4.2.7 To learn more about AD


RNIB: Audio description

Web Accessibility Initiative: Audio Description of Visual Information

Audio Description Association: About audio description

VocalEyes website

ADLAB Pictures painted in words: ADLAB Audio Description guidelines


4.3        Speech-to-Text Technology (STT) and Voice/Speech Recognition Software (VRS/SRS)


4.3.1      What are STT and VRS/SRS?


Speech-to-text is a type of software that effectively takes audio content and transcribes it into written words in a word processor or other display destination.


Voice/Speech recognition is a computer software program or hardware device with the ability to decode the human voice. It is commonly used to operate a device, perform commands, or write without having to use a keyboard, mouse, or press any buttons.


4.3.2      How can STT and VRS/SRS help learners and teachers?


STT can help learners and teachers as it:

  • enables users to generate written output that better represents their true oral language skills.
  • helps increase written output and legibility.
  • allows users to alternate between typing and speaking as needed.
  • reduces writing fatigue by eliminating the physical act of composing to paper or keyboard.
  • helps users with moderate to severe spelling difficulties.
  • helps users who are blind or have low vision, or with poor or limited fine motor skills, repetitive strain injuries, and users with physical disabilities.


VRS/SRS can help as it:

  • provides an effective way for learners of foreign languages to practise their spoken language skills and check their pronunciation.
  • is faster and provides a simple way to get words into a document without having to be delayed in the process.
  • allows hands-free work.


4.3.3      Types of STT and VRS/SRS tools



App Description iOS / Android


Built-in iOS dictation feature. Tap the microphone button on the keyboard, say what you want to write, and your iPad converts your words (and numbers and characters) into text. iOS
Google Keyboard

iOS & Android

·       Easy to use

·       Additional features

·       No shortcut commands

iOS & Android


Live Transcribe You can use Live Transcribe to capture speech and view it as text. Android

o   Built-in Google voice recognition tech

o   Recognizes punctuation marks

o   Easy to use

















4.3.4      Tips for using STT and VRS/SRS


  • Speak using clear enunciation with no inflection.
  • Use a headset with a microphone. This will help isolate the speaker’s voice so the dictation software can pick it up better.
  • Use built-in instructions to save time: learn the specific commands that you can use with STT software to do things like shift to the next line, set punctuation and more.
  • Train the software: some dictation apps need to “learn” the way that you speak so that they better recognize what you’re saying.
  • Once the STT session is finished, double-check and correct the text.


4.3.5      Tips for using STT and VRS/SRS in learning and teaching contexts


  • STT and VRS/SRS can increase concentration and engagement in writing tasks, enabling learners to work more independently and with greater confidence.
  • STT and VRS/SRS can ease anxiety around writing tasks and lower the learner’s affective filter, making them more willing to get started.
  • Learners can focus more on creativity in their writing and on the quality of their work.
  • Help learners create longer and more sophisticated texts at the level of their intellectual ability and at the same pace and level as their peers, without being held back by difficulties with the mechanics of writing or typing.
  • Learners can practise doing their own editing and punctuation while creating texts using STT and VRS/SRS.
  • It is useful for learners to plan what they want to say beforehand.


4.3.6      To learn more about STT and VRS/SRS


Reading Rockets: Speech Recognition for Learning

Understood: Dictation (Speech-to-Text) Technology: What It Is and How It Works

AbilityNet: Voice Recognition for Blind Computer Users

Web Accessibility Initiative: Voice Recognition

University of Dundee: Voice Recognition


4.4        Text-to-Speech Technology (TTS) and screen readers


4.4.1      What are TTS and screen readers?


Text-to-speech technology reads digital text aloud using a speech synthesizer. TTS is sometimes also called read aloud technology. It can be used on computers, tablets, smartphones and other assistive devices and can read all kinds of digital text aloud, including Word and Pages documents, pdfs, text messages, emails, and web pages. TTS has gained popularity over the years and now has a wide variety of uses in the digital world, such as for telephony, public announcement systems, smart assistants, mapping software, and for e-learning and educational contexts generally.


The voices used in TTS are computer generated and can be male, female, adult or children. They vary in quality, with some sounding more human than others, but due to rapid advances in recent years, TTS technology can now produce very natural-sounding speech, with variations in pronunciation and inflection. TTS can often be sped up or slowed down, and some TTS tools include optical character recognition (OCR), which means they can read text from images. Many can also highlight text as it is read aloud so that users can see and hear the content at the same time.


A screen reader is a type of assistive technology software used by some people with disabilities, including people who are blind or partially sighted, to use a computer, tablet or smartphone. Screen readers use TTS to read digital text aloud, and also provide the user with important information on headings, images, icons, links etc. Some screen readers also include screen magnification and can provide information in Braille, using a refreshable Braille display (see section 4.7 for more information).


4.4.2      How can TTS and screen readers help learners and teachers?


TTS and screen readers can help learners and teachers as they:


  • provide access to digital text and navigation of computers, tablets and smartphones for people with disabilities, including people who are blind or partially sighted.
  • also enhance access for people whose first language is not the language of the country where they live / work / are receiving education.
  • support people who have difficulties with reading as they provide a multisensory reading experience; i.e., users can read and listen to the words at the same time.
  • help readers who struggle with decoding[2] as hearing and seeing words allows them to focus more on meaning than on pronunciation.
  • help people proofread their digital written texts (emails, homework, reports, etc), which can be especially useful for people with learning difficulties, including dyslexia.
  • boost learning by improving word recognition, retention of content, attention, comprehension, motivation and confidence.
  • allow users to check pronunciation of words in their first language and other languages.
  • can be used with online learning materials and tools to enhance e-learning.
  • have benefits in terms of mobility – people can listen on the go or while multi-tasking.


4.4.3      Types of TTS tools


The number of TTS tools available to use on Android and Apple devices and on PCs has rapidly increased in recent years. This section is intended as a handy guide to the most widely used TTS tools and screen readers. Some can be downloaded or are web based, and many devices and programmes now come with built-in TTS tools, so there is no need to purchase or download separately. There are even pen-shaped and other hand-held devices that can scan and read words (see below). For literacy software programmes, such as ClaroRead and Read&Write, see section 4.5.


Built-in TTS tools / screen readers

App Description Android/

Windows/ iOS etc

Speak Screen


Reads the content of the page on your screen out to you. Turn on Speak Screen and swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers, or just tell Siri to Speak Screen, to have all the content on the page read back to you. iOS
Speak Selection


Use Speak Selection to highlight the specific range of text you want to hear, in colours that you can customise. Then follow along as highlighted words, sentences or words within each sentence are read aloud. iOS
Typing Feedback When activated, each letter you type on the keyboard is spoken aloud. iOS


VoiceOver is a screen reader which allows people to use their iOS device without having to see the screen. With VoiceOver enabled on your device, just triple click the Home button to access. iOS
Select to Speak If you want spoken feedback only at certain times, you can turn on Select to Speak. Select items on your screen to hear them read or described aloud, or point the camera at something in the real world. Android
TalkBack TalkBack is a screen reader which gives users spoken feedback and notifications. It allows people to use their Android device without having to look at the screen. To turn on TalkBack, press both volume keys for a few seconds. Android
Google Assistant Read It With Google Assistant, Android devices can read web articles aloud. To activate, when a web article is displayed on your browser, say “Hey Google, read it” or “Hey Google, read this page”. The browser will automatically scroll the page and highlight words as they are read aloud. Android
Read Aloud


Listen to your Word documents with Read Aloud. To use, select Review > Read Aloud. Also listen to your emails with Read Aloud for Outlook. Windows


Narrator is the screen reader software built into Windows 10. It provides spoken feedback to describe the user’s actions as they navigate around the screen. To turn on Narrator, press the Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter. Windows
Read Out Loud Read Out Loud is a TTS tool built into Adobe Reader. It reads text within a document window. To turn on Read Out Loud, go to View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud. Adobe




Web-based TTS tools

App Description

Read Aloud for Chrome and Firefox

Read Aloud is a Chrome and Firefox extension that uses text-to-speech technology to convert webpage text to audio.
Immersive Reader Immersive Reader reads out loud and highlights text simultaneously. It can be used with Word Online, OneNote Online,, Outlook on the web and the OneNote Windows 10 app.


TTS and Screen reader apps and software

Tool name Description


NonVisual Desktop Access is a popular, free, open source screen reader for Windows, developed primarily for blind and partially sighted users who otherwise would not have access to the internet. It works with Office applications, and most web browsers and email clients
JAWS Job Access With Speech, is a popular paid screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications.

@Voice Aloud Reader

Android app which reads aloud text from web pages, emails, Whatsapp messages, txt, pdf, Word and Open Office documents, etc. Free and paid versions.
Natural Reader NaturalReader is a free text reader which can be used online or installed on your computer or devices. It operates in its own program window or as a floating toolbar. It can read text from Word documents, pdfs, emails, and most document formats. Also offers a Chrome extension. Free and paid versions.
Voice Dream Reader Voice Dream Reader is an accessible reading tool for mobile and tablet devices. With advanced text-to-speech and a highly configurable screen layout, it can be tailored to suit every reading style from completely auditory to completely visual, plus synchronized combination of both. Paid.
T2S: Text to Voice An Android app that uses Google’s own text-to-speech software. You can open or import a text file to be read, and save the output as an MP3 file. It also has a feature called Type Speak, which will provide audio for text as you speak, which could be especially helpful for people with communication problems. It’s free to use, but does contain ads and offers in-app purchases.



4.4.4      Tips for using TTS and screen readers in learning and teaching contexts


  • TTS cannot be used as a substitute for developing reading skills! TTS is most effective when integrated and aligned with effective reading instruction.
  • Make it clear to learners that TTS is available to and can be useful for all learners, so that all have the opportunity to benefit and to reduce stigma.
  • Give learners the option to use TTS often, occasionally, or not at all if they find it distracting, as all learners are different.
  • TTS can be used by learners during tasks that involve reading to stay engaged with the text for longer.
  • TTS can enable learners to work more independently.
  • TTS can ease anxiety around reading tasks and lower the learner’s affective filter, making them more willing to get started.
  • For some learners TTS is more effective with short texts, to avoid losing concentration. For others, TTS can be helpful for reading and processing long texts, e.g., higher and further education students or trainees in workplaces.
  • When engaging in learning activities, TTS can help learners who have difficulties with decoding to access texts with more information and depth to enable them to complete the other tasks in the activity more effectively, such as analysing, making connections, evaluating, or applying the knowledge gained.
  • TTS can be using during learning and teaching sessions to improve learners’ writing, for example to check and improve punctuation by listening to how strange text can sound without the correct punctuation.
  • Encourage learners to find the voices they prefer and to try out using different voices for different texts to maintain engagement.
  • Advise learners to find the right speed for them and to avoid listening to the text too fast. 140-180 words per minute is an optimal speed for students.
  • Learners with sight loss who need instruction in using screen readers will benefit from specialist training and can benefit from contacting an association for people who are blind or partially sighted for advice.


4.4.5      To learn more about TTS and screen readers


Understood website: Text-to-Speech Technology: What It Is and How It Works

Reading Rockets website: Text-to-Speech (TTS)

Web Accessibility Initiative: Text to Speech

University of Reading: Inclusive technology: text-to-speech

AbilityNet: Screen readers and Text to Speech

RNIB: Screen reading software

AbilityNet: An introduction to screen readers

Paths to Literacy: Lessons for Beginners Using Screen Readers and Accessing the Internet with Windows Screen Reading Software: Lessons for Beginners


4.5        Assistive technology for reading and writing


4.5.1      What is assistive technology for reading and writing?


There is a wide range of inclusive technology for assisting learners, such as people who are learning the language of their country of residence and people with disabilities such as visual impairment or reading / print difficulties, in reading and writing for activities such as study or work.


These include TTS and screen readers, which have been covered in section 4.4, but also include several other kinds of tools, such as audiobooks and digital TTS books, OCR (see section 4.4), annotation tools, proofreading apps, graphic organizers, smart pens and display control tools. While audiobooks are read by human voices, digital TTS books use computer-generated voices. Annotation tools allow the reader to take notes and write comments while reading. Graphic organisers are visual representations of ideas and concepts, such as diagrams and mind maps. Display control enables the reader to adjust how the text is displayed. They can be used to change the font style, size and colour, adjust the spacing or cover parts of the text to reduce distractions. Reading guides and coloured overlays can be used with both digital and print materials. Some software solutions provide a combination of tools.


4.5.2      How can reading and writing tools help learners and teachers?


  • Enhance reading skills of learners with reading difficulties, particularly in terms of assimilating and communicating text and participating in group discussions on the same level as their peers in a learning environment.
  • Improve reading and writing confidence and educational independence.
  • Help readers to access reading materials and build subject knowledge at the level of their intellectual ability and at the same level as their peers.
  • Increase word exposure and improve vocabulary.
  • Can help with navigating text and reducing distractions.
  • Can boost motivation for schoolwork/ studies in general.
  • Audiobooks can enable readers to experience a story they may not be able to access with a traditional book.
  • Audiobooks can remove anxiety and cognitive effort of decoding, improving learners’ ability to retain, remember and understand content.
  • Annotation tools can help the reader to retain information.
  • Graphic organisers can help with comprehension of ideas and concepts while reading.
  • OCR makes it possible for readers to see words on a screen and hear them read aloud at the same time, which provides more ways for readers to engage with the information and can help learners develop independent reading skills.


4.5.3      Types of reading and writing apps and software


As noted above, there is a wide and increasing variety of tools available to help learners with reading, writing and general study which can be used on Android and Apple devices and on PCs, from educational programmes and audiobook platforms to portable scanners and pen readers. This section is intended as a handy guide to some of the most widely used reading and writing tools. Some can be downloaded and others are web based. Most are paid but some offer 30 day free trials.


Tool name Description Android/

Windows/ iOS etc.

Read&Write From hearing emails or documents read out loud to text prediction, picture dictionaries, summary highlighters and a grammar, spelling and confusable words checker, Read&Write makes lots of everyday literacy tasks simpler, quicker and more accurate. Windows, Android, iOS
Claro Software Reading, writing and study tools and software for people with disabilities such as print and reading difficulties like dyslexia. Windows, Android, iOS
LexiaUK Literacy software which supports primary and secondary school educators in providing literacy instruction for pupils of all abilities. Windows, Android, iOS
Nessy programmes and apps Educational software for children. A complete dyslexia aware solution with a suite of multisensory products aimed at making learning to read, write and spell fun. Windows, Android, iOS
Bookshare Bookshare helps people with learning, visual, and physical disabilities read with accessible eBooks.

Bookshare books let you read in ways that work for you.  Members can listen to books, follow along with highlighted text, read in Braille, and customize their reading experience in ways that make reading easier.

Audible Online audiobook and podcast platform. Windows, Android, iOS
C-Pen Reader The C-Pen Reader pen scanner is major technological breakthrough for anyone learning English and those with reading difficulties such as dyslexia. The C-Pen Reader is a portable device that reads text out aloud with an English human-like digital voice.
OCR Instantly Pro This apps takes an image and converts it into digitized text which can then be shared to other applications such as email and SMS. Android



4.5.4      Tips for using reading and writing tools in teaching and learning contexts


  • OCR tools can be used to transform printed learning and teaching materials into digital text files. This can be very helpful for learners with reading difficulties, including learners with dyslexia, as the digital text can then be used with software that supports reading in different ways.
  • With OCR you can also make changes to the text once it has been converted to digital form, such as using TTS, highlighting words or sentences or changing the font style, size and colour. Make sure to check the text for any errors before you use it!
  • Encourage learners to practice active reading and identify their reading strategy before they read. Before reading, learners can think about what they already know about the topic and identify some questions they would like to answer while reading.
  • Encourage learners to use the table of contents if there is one, to read selectively and navigate the document more efficiently. They should also break their reading down by making notes in their own words after every paragraph.


4.5.5      To learn more about reading and writing tools


Understood website: Assistive Technology for Reading and Assistive Technology for Writing

Reading Rockets website: Assistive Technology Tools: Reading

University of Reading: Studying with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties

WeAreTeachers: 7 Ways Audiobooks Benefit Students Who Struggle with Reading

Spectronics: Inclusive Technologies Assisting Students with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities


4.6 Screen magnification


 4.6.1 What are screen magnifiers?


A screen magnifier is a feature, tool or application software that increases the size of text and graphics on the screen of a device or computer. There are many magnification devices which are used primarily by people with sight loss, including hand-held magnifying glasses and video magnifiers, but this section focuses on screen magnification apps, sometimes also called screen enlargement software.


Most people will find that the most effective way to use screen magnification on a computer is to set the screen to full screen mode. Some magnifiers enlarge the pages or content displayed on the device, and others use your device’s camera as a magnifying glass to help the user read printed text or identify small items. Some users may prefer to use a screen magnifier alone without having text read aloud, while others may find it more beneficial to use screen magnification in combination with a screen reader (see section 4.4).


Adjusting display settings on devices and web browsers

You may be able to adjust the default display settings on your device, to enlarge text and/or images, which will apply to all of your applications. However, this is not always possible on all devices. You can also modify the settings of web browsers to increase text and image size, either temporarily or by default. You can also change colours and fonts, such as for a higher contrast.


4.6.2      How can screen magnification help learners and teachers?


Screen magnification can help learners and teachers as it:


  • Is useful for learners who are not able to view content well on a screen without enhancements.
  • Can be tailored to the requirements of each learner, by adjusting settings such as colour, mouse pointer size and magnification level.
  • Makes mainstream applications more accessible.
  • Enables learners to access and engage with the same activities as their peers.
  • Helps learners manage eye fatigue, use good posture and view digital content at a good viewing distance.
  • Can help learners not lose their place when reading, by emphasising an area of the screen with shading and colour.
  • Can make text more readable by smoothing the edges of enlarged letters so they do not appear blocky and hard to read.
  • Can reduce glare by inverting the colours on the screen, which can be helpful for learners with macular degeneration.
  • Can make the cursor easier to find by enlarging the mouse pointer or adding a circle around it.


4.6.3      Types of screen magnification tools


Apple, Android and Windows devices now come with built-in screen magnification tools, so there is no need to purchase or download. They can be enabled when you first turn on an Apple, Android or Windows device, or at any time. Third party screen magnifiers, which can be downloaded separately, may offer a wider range of features, such as being able to use different magnification levels, change the colour of the background and foreground, make adjustments to the mouse pointer or cursor, or speech may be included. Some third party applications offer 30 day or 60-day free trials.


With some screen magnification tools, you can use the mouse or keyboard shortcuts to position the cursor where you want to enlarge the text or image, while some allow you to pre-set speed for the cursor to move automatically across and down the page.


Built-in magnifiers


App Description Android/ Windows / iOS etc.
Zoom You can use Zoom to magnify the entire screen (Full Screen Zoom) or you can magnify only part of the screen with a resizeable lens (Window Zoom). You can use Zoom together with the iOS built-in screen reader VoiceOver (see section 4.4). iOS


Magnification Once activated, you can triple-tap the screen to enter full-screen magnification and you can still interact with the device while zoomed in. Android



Magnifier makes part or all of your screen bigger so you can see words and images better. Windows
Magnifier Works like a digital magnifying glass. It uses the camera on your iPad to increase the size of anything you point it at, so you can see the details more clearly. Use the flash to light the object, adjust filters to help you differentiate colours, or snap a photo to get a static closeup. iOS



Screen magnification apps and software


App Description Android/ Windows / iOS etc.
ZoomText Magnifier


An advanced screen magnification programme that enlarges and enhances everything on your computer screen, making your computer easier to see and use. ZoomText also offers magnification software integrated with a reader or JAWS screen reader. Windows
SuperNova Magnifier


Advanced screen magnification software which can enlarge and enhance everything on screen. You can choose high-contrast colours, large mouse pointers and highlights to help you track and navigate each page. Windows
Magnifying Glass with Light It has feature of Light Level Control and also has feature of image Capture. This app will provide you facility of Auto-Focus Lock and it is universal App for both iPhone and iPad. You can pinch to Zoom In/Out and it supports both Portrait and Landscape Orientation. This app has auto turn on built-in light in low light condition feature when start-up and you can shake to hide/show all control buttons. It also supports Front Camera and you can use Full Screen Interface. iOS
Magnifying glass + Flashlight The magnified image has detailed, but not blurry picture due to its auto focus feature. The app lets you freeze the screen and read comfortably. If required, you can also use a flashlight of your smartphone to lighten a magnified image. You can also save the pictures you’ve taken and watch them later. iOS


 Magnifier + Flashlight This app uses your phone’s camera to magnify text, has light and invert mode features and a capture function. Android
SuperVision+ Magnifier It is easy to activate stabilization. This app has option to not only stabilize vertically, but also allowing horizontal reading movement. It has large and highly visible buttons and you can maximize screen by double tapping to hide buttons and also can freeze images at high resolution for examining details. This app has built-in flashlight support and allow focus locking. iOS & Android




4.6.4      Tips for using screen magnification in teaching and learning contexts


  • Beginners in using screen magnification should start out by using it for short periods of time, such as in 15-minute sessions, as it can be disorientating at first.
  • Learning shortcuts / keyboard commands can help learners navigate and orient themselves, especially at high levels of magnification, and particularly those that are most relevant to them.
  • It is useful for learners to be familiar with adjusting the display settings of a device, so they can make adjustments when using different devices in labs or different educational settings.


4.6.5      To learn more about screen magnification


W3C Web Accessibility Initiative: Better Web Browsing: Tips for Customizing Your Computer

RNIB: Screen magnification

AbilityNet: Magnifying the screen

Bureau of Internet Accessibility: Screen Magnifiers: Who and How They Help

American Foundation for the Blind: Screen Magnification Systems

Perkins School for the Blind: Screen Magnification

Paths to Literacy: Magnification

4.7 Digital Braille


4.7.1 What is digital Braille?


Braille can be written and read through a computer, using electronic Braille displays, which are also known as digital, paperless, soft or refreshable Braille displays. Braille displays allow the user to enter data and control their computer, read digital documents, web pages and email using Braille. Braille displays work in combination with screen readers, which send information to the Braille display. They are often compatible with magnification software also. They are placed underneath a computer keyboard. They enable the user to read what’s on the computer screen by touch in Braille.


4.7.2 How can digital Braille help learners and teachers?


  • Enhances literacy, aiding learning of punctuation, grammar and spelling, and boosts enjoyment of reading.
  • Provides an active reading and writing method for people who cannot access print. Reading braille is active, whereas listening to audio is passive.
  • Provides a system for labelling items, which boosts independence and self-esteem.
  • Aids independent living and employability.
  • Provides access to playing card games and board games with friends, family and in educational settings.
  • Boosts organisational skills, as enables learners to keep a diary, write lists and write greetings cards.
  • Aids financial independence and privacy, as many banks and other business provide statements and bills in Braille.
  • Is useful for proofreading, working on the web or for people who work a lot on the telephone.


4.7.3 Types of digital Braille tools


Refreshable Braille displays can be connected to iOS, Android, Windows and Kindle devices via USB connection or Bluetooth. Notetakers are small portable computers designed for use by people who are blind or partially sighted. They can have a standard or Braille keyboard, with digital information, such as from web pages or email, displayed in Braille and/or read aloud. They can be connected to a computer, printer or Braille embosser. There are apps that can be used with PCs, tablets and smartphones to take Braille notes or learn Braille.


Tool name Description
Orbit Reader 20


Portable refreshable Braille display, with 20 refreshable eight-dot Braille cells. It offers reading books via SD card, simple note-taking, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Use Bluetooth to connect to Apple, Android or Kindle devices and access books through reading apps such as Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions or iBooks. The translation into Braille is performed by your device’s screen reader to give you a quick Braille output on your Orbit Reader 20.
Focus 80 Refreshable Braille Display


Refreshable Braille display, with 80 refreshable eight-dot braille cells. Up to five Bluetooth connections to connect to iOS and Android devices such as smartphones, iPads, and tablets. You can also use the Perkins-style keyboard for Braille text input to control your computer. Use with JAWS for combined speech and Braille access.
BrailleNote Touch 32 Plus – Braille note taker/tablet Braille notetaker, powered by Android 8.1 Oreo. Optomised Chrome web browsing. Provided with EasyReader Plus, a new reading app tailored for BrailleNoteTouch. Filled with educational tools and fully supports standard keyboards. Access to Google Assistant. Team collaboration by sharing documents using Google Drive or other cloud services.
BrailleBack With BrailleBack, you can connect a refreshable braille display to your Android device via Bluetooth. BrailleBack works with the TalkBack screen reader to provide a combined speech and braille experience.
iBrailler Notes


Offers an easy way for iPad users to type Braille notes and perform basic word processing on a touchscreen (for iOS only).
Braille Tutor App for learning Unified English Braille. Works on iPad using onscreen keys or home keys on a Bluetooth keyboard. It is self-voiced, but also works with iOS accessibility. Uses sounds and text-to-speech to support vision-impaired learners. Using a Bluetooth keyboard also gives the user a feel of the keys.



4.7.4 Tips for using digital Braille in teaching and learning contexts


  • Cognitive abilities and foundational concepts, finger sensitivity and fine motor coordination essential for learning braille.
  • Teaching tracking patterns: important to teach correct finger and hand use.
  • Discourage backtracking and scrubbing.
  • Encourage light finger touch.
  • Encourage proper finger and hand position.
  • Begin instruction by teaching the braille cell. Learning the dot positions in the braille cell is helpful, but not essential, for discriminating letters, numbers, and punctuation.
  • Make it fun, with games and activities and using technology.


For more information, see: Braille Instruction.


4.7.5 To learn more about digital Braille


RNIB website: Modern day braille

AbilityNet: Vision impairment and Computing

Sight Advice FAQ: What is electronic braille and what are braille displays?

VisionAware: Braille Technology: What’s New and Emerging?

Paths to Literacy: Braille Tutor App

National Federation of the Blind: Braille and Technology






4.8 Display accommodations and other built in accessibility features


iOS Accessibility

There are many accessibility features and tools available on iOS devices beyond those covered in this guide. For example, you can adjust the display by choosing from a range of colour filters or turning on Invert Colours. The can be helpful for learners with colour blindness or other vision challenges. Moreover, you can increase the size of text in apps and settings by activating Larger Dynamic Type and Hover Text lets you choose different fonts and colours. AssistiveTouch allows you to use your iPhone if you have difficulty touching the screen or if you use adaptive technology, and there are several touch and motion accommodations, among others.


Android accessibility

There are many accessibility features and tools available on Android devices beyond those covered in this guide. For example, you can also change your display and font size, choose from different colours, invert colours or choose high contrasts. There are also interaction controls so you can interact with your device using spoken commands or switches, or add common actions to your Home screen with a name or image. There is also a sound amplifier and hearing aid support, among other tools.


Windows accessibility

There are many accessibility features and tools available on Android devices beyond those covered in this guide. For example, you can resize icons, adjust text size and colour, and customise the mouse cursor. You can also use colour filters to customise your screen’s colour palette and boost the contrast on your screen or get rid of colour entirely. You can also use voice commands or keyboard shortcuts or type with an adaptive device.





4.9 Country-specific accessibility tools



Tool Links to useful resources on using these tools
Text to Speech Technology/Screen reader

Reading & Writing tools DysseAppen, TorTalk

Digital Braille Brailliant





Tool Links to useful resources on using these tools
Subtitles / captioning

Audio description
Sign Language via video

Speech to Text Technology/ Voice recognition software

Text to Speech Technology/Screen reader

Screen magnifier Skærmlæsere

Reading & Writing tools CD ord

Digital Braille


5           More information and resources


5.1 International /national laws/regulations that cover digital accessibility in educational contexts in partner countries


International legislation

Sweden, Denmark and the UK have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 24 concerns specifically education and states that all people, despite disabilities, has right to education without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunities.


EU legislation

On September 23, 2018, the Web Accessibility Directive came into force in all EU countries, including Sweden, Denmark and the UK. The law covers the entire public sector as well as state and municipal companies that meet certain requirements. The law means, among other things, that websites, intranet, documents and apps must meet the requirements for accessibility in EN301549. Since education in Sweden is public, and since every person who acquires the Swedish personal number has the right to education on the same basis, despite disabilities, all the digital educational material must be accessible. It also applies to all publicly-funded higher and further education institutions in the UK, although primary and secondary schools are partially exempt.



  • A law which secures accessibility in all digital educational material is the Swedish Public Procurement Act. Since January 1st, 2017 it is required that the technical specifications of all procurements which are to be used by a natural person must take into account the needs of all users, including people with disabilities.
  • There are other Swedish laws which indirectly secure that all digital educational material is accessible. These laws state the right to education and protect people against discrimination due to their disability.
  • According to the Swedish Discrimination Actit is forbidden to discriminate directly or indirectly against a person in work or education due to disability. Since the 1st of January 2015, the lack of accessibility is seen as discrimination, which means that accessibility measures must always been taken in order to make sure that a person with disability isn’t disadvantaged because of lack of them.
  • Articles 1, 3, 7 and 15 of the Swedish Education Act secures all children’s right to education and describes the rules regarding the right to attend compulsory special needs school as well the right to support in order to reach the educational goals.








Under the Equality Act 2010, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (in Northern Ireland) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK it’s against the law for a school or other education provider to treat disabled students unfavourably, which covers direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Education providers have a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to make sure disabled students are not discriminated against. These changes could include providing extra support and aids (like specialist teachers or equipment). All publicly funded pre-schools, nurseries, state schools and local authorities must try to identify and help assess children with special educational needs and disabilities. All universities and higher education colleges should have a person in charge of disability issues to offer support to students.

UK government guidance on Understanding accessibility requirements for public sector bodies.


5.2  Relevant associations, organisations and government departments in the partner countries


Below we have listed associations for people with disabilities, digital accessibility experts, government departments and other relevant contacts that you may find useful, in our three partner countries.



RNIB – the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people.


RSBC – the Royal Society for Blind Children provides a range of services in London and across England and Wales for blind and partially sighted children and young people, their families, and the professionals who work alongside them.


British Deaf Association – The BDA is the UK’s leading membership organisation and registered charity run by Deaf people for Deaf people.


BDAYouth – British Deaf Association Youth is the new branch of the BDA dedicated to Deaf youth in Britain from the ages of 18 to 30.


Action on Hearing Loss – Action on Hearing Loss is one of the largest charities in the UK supporting people living with deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus.


National Deaf Children’s Society – We give expert support on childhood deafness, raise awareness and campaign for deaf children’s rights, so they have the same opportunities as everyone else.


British Dyslexia Association – The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has been the voice of dyslexic people in the UK since 1972.


National Autistic Society – the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families.


AbilityNet – AbilityNet supports people of any age, living with any disability or impairment to use technology to achieve their goals at home, at work and in education.


The UK Government Digital Service (GDS) on Making online public services accessible.




The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired – the main Swedish organisation of the blind and partially sighted. It is a social movement organisation with a broad participation of its constituency, and not only a professional NGO. It is run by the visually impaired themselves.


Youth with Visual Impairment (US) – an organization for those who are 10 – 30 years old. US organizes free time activities and camps where young people can do everything from skiing, hiking and sailing to eating chocolate, writing music and meeting new friends. US organizes educational weekends where young people can learn everything from how they can handle stress to what rights they have when study at a college / university. The organization enables young people with visual impairment to live and work in society on equal terms and express their views both to politicians and to companies and other organizations.


Youth with Hearing Impairment (UH) – an association for those between 0-30 years with a hearing impairment. It is an independent organization driven for and by young people themselves.


The Swedish Association of Hearing Impaired (HRF) – an organization which works for society where the hearing impaired can live in full participation and equality.


Funka Nu AB – Funka is consultancy company and a market leader in accessibility. They analyze, develop and educate in accessibility, provide support, recommendations and user testing as well as contribute to standards and guidelines at national and international level.


IAAP Nordic Chapter  – an accessibility association, where accessibility professionals from Nordic Countries come together to define, promote and improve the accessibility profession through networking, education and certification. It is a part of IAAP Global.


Agency for Digital Government (DIGG) –  a new government authority, created to think creatively, address new challenges and identify new opportunities. We started on September 1, 2018. DIGG serves as a hub for digitalization of the public sector.


The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools

SPSM works to ensure that children, young people and adults – regardless of functional ability – have adequate conditions to fulfil their educational goals. This is done through: special needs support; education in special needs schools; accessible teaching materials; government funding.


The National Agency for Education is the central administrative authority for the public school system, publicly organised preschooling, school-age childcare and for adult education.


The Swedish Schools Inspectorate scutinises schools and assesses applications to run an independent school.




Danske Døves Ungdomsforbund

Dansk Blindesamfunds Ungdom

Ordblinde Instituttet

Dysleksi Ungdom

Udviklingshæmmedes Landsforbund

Sind ungdom

ADHD unge

Foreningen Danske Døvblinde

Styrelsen for it- og læring 





Sjældne handicaps 

Center for hjerneskade 

Autisme unge

Det nationale Autismeinstitut 

Center for autisme 

Beskæftigelsescenter for unge – autisme 

Ungdomsuddannelse Autisme 


5.3 Further resources on digital accessibility from partner countries



Recent survey done by the visual impaired organization

The resource for special education covers more than 9000 items in a database.



Aarhus Universitet 


Københavns Universitet

 Nationalt videnscenter for læsning


UK / US / International

Report: Disabled children and young people’s uses and experiences of digital technologies for learning


UK Association for Accessible Formats guidance:

General Principles for describing images

Creating clear print and large print documents


Making PPTs / pdfs / Word docs more accessible and screen reader friendly:

Make your PDF accessible and readable by visually impaired readers

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Creating Accessible Presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint

World Blind Union guidance on making PowerPoint presentations accessible

British Dyslexia Association style guide


Accessible web/social media:

Dos and Don’ts on designing for accessibility

5 ways to make your tweets accessible

5 tips for creating accessible Facebook posts


Best practices for accessible social media

Designing for accessibility and inclusion

Designing autism-friendly websites


Accessible learning and teaching in HE:

Making learning development resources accessible

Microsoft tools to make learning more accessible

Fostering inclusive teaching and learning environments







[1] For more information on making documents accessible, see these Guidelines for accessible information.

[2] When readers use their existing knowledge of letters and sounds to correctly pronounce words.