Learners have access to appropriate software designed to improve typing skills
Handwriting can be challenge for many learners, and while there is support to help in this area it is often a real advantage to explore typing. Touch-typing enables learners to stay focused on the screen and improve the rate they can write words, it also enables other tools to be used alongside this – including word prediction.
If able to touch-type learners have a useful skill that can be used in a number of scenarios. AbilityNet’s guide to touch-typing is a useful resource. There are a number of touch-typing games that you can use with your learners too.
Learners are able to access frequently used applications and files through the use of shortcuts
When using computers it is useful to provide the programs, folders and files in an accessible manner. One of the ways we can do this is through shortcuts on the taskbar/start menu or shortcuts on the desktop.
Combined with changing visual options and moving to “single-click” open this can really speed up access, especially for touch-screen users.
It may involve working with your IT team to identify which of these features are currently locked down.
Software from start-up
Learners are able to have their Assistive Technology software running automatically from start-up
Often we can spend time working with learners for them to access software, only for them to stop using this for seemingly no reason. When asked learners may say “I just didn’t think of it” or “Oh yeah, that could help.”
One of the ways we can remove this barrier is to choose programs to run when the computer is turned on.
You can also set software to run on start-up on Apple Mac’s
Learners can customise their desktop accessibility options to meet their needs. These settings should ‘follow’ their log-on
JISC has provided an article outlining some of the major accessibility features in Windows, and how to ensure that roaming profiles ensure these settings follow a learner in an article here at Supporting personalisation with roaming profiles.
Another tool to make this happen is by using User Experience Virtualisation, this is something to customise settings in Windows and specific settings:
“Customizable Windows settings include Microsoft Store appearance, language, background picture, font size, and accent colors. Customizable application settings include language, appearance, behavior, and user interface options.”
These changes take some effort but make a major difference to accessibility, please talk to us if you’d like to know more than has been outlined here.
Keyboard shortcuts can replace a lot of mouse or other pointer device use. For learners with physical impairments this can reduce physical effort. An example of this would be typing Ctrl + S to save a document rather than having to: Remove a hand from the keyboard, move the pointer to the symbol at the top of the screen, click, then return hand to the keyboard.
If learners are unable to hold down multiple keys then set up Sticky Keys in Windows or Sticky Keys on a Mac.
Some examples of commonly used keyboard shortcuts on PC and Mac:
|Save the document||Ctrl + S||Cmd + S|
|Ctrl + P||Cmd + P|
|Close software window||Alt + F4||Cmd + W|
|Reduce font size||Ctrl + Shift + Minus key||Cmd + Shift + Minus key|
|Increase font size||Ctrl + Shift + Plus key||Cmd + Shift + Plus key)|
|Open a new document||Ctrl + N||Cmd + N|
|Search for a program||Windows key then start typing name||Cmd + Space bar then start typing name|
Accessible Log In
Ensuring learners can independently log in may require multiple approaches:
1. Password policy
This can make it easier to remember or input usernames and passwords. As a username SarahJones or SarahJ can be easier than JonesS. For passwords consider allowing learners shorter passwords which do not require numbers or special characters. This way they are able to use a memorable word. Security must be balanced with accessibility but a short memorable password may be more secure than passwords that need to be written down.
2. Physical Access
Whether it’s a height adjustable desk, devices turned on or doors open. It is easy to run through the log-on process with your learners to identify and minimise physical barriers.
3. Log-in Method
For your chosen device consider the alternative methods to log-in that may help remove barriers for learners. This could be fingerprints or facial recognition on mobile phones or Windows computers.
As with any log-in procedures, check the security risks and balance against the value of access.