PrintFriendly PDF Maker

A man wearing a headset uses a laptop.

If you’ve ever worked with PDFs, you’ve probably heard of Adobe Acrobat and Reader. And if you’ve heard of those products, you probably also know two other things. One, that Adobe products are the best for working with PDFs, and two, that Adobe software is very expensive. Both of these things are very true. However, if you are a working professional who generates a lot of digital paperwork, it’s going to be hard to recommend anything else but Adobe Acrobat.

But what if you’re a student who maybe generates a PDF here and there, but you don’t need anything too fancy, and you don’t want a product that’s going to break the bank?

Lookout Vision App

A blind man wearing sunglasses and a white cane speaks into his phone while sitting on a bench.

We’ve talked a bit in the past about apps and services designed for individuals with low or no vision, but it’s been a few years since we’ve featured something new. In fact, we highly recommend you look at our previous e-bulletins for even more recommendations for vision-related apps and services, especially since the app that we are looking at today is for Android only.

Lookout is an assisted vision app created by Google. It uses your smartphone’s camera in conjunction with powerful AI to capture and describe the world around you. The app also has some universal design potential in that it could also be helpful for those with print-based disabilities.

Action Blocks

A man in a wheelchair smiles while he uses his phone.

One of the greatest things about modern smartphones is the level of customization that is available to its users. Developers today are so much more conscious about how their technology might be used, especially when it comes to offering Accessible apps and services. In fact, besting the other brands accessibility is a major driving factor for both Google and Apple. And as we’ve mentioned before, at the time of me writing this article, both companies are doing an amazing job with their current built-in accessibility tools.

KiwiWrite Math

A boys uses a tablet in the classroom.

Alternative math apps are always so interesting to me. Growing up in the 90’s, we only had access to pens and calculators, but with today’s technology we have so many choices in how we want to approach math. This is especially important for persons with disabilities who might otherwise struggle with math for a variety of reasons. In fact, if you look back at our previous e-bulletins, we have over 40 articles solely devoted to math apps, so if you haven’t already, take a look at what we’ve already covered.

The app that we are looking at today is based around the concept of math without the need for handwriting. For students with dysgraphia, dyscalculia, or fine motor control challenges, this approach to learning and solving math could be a complete game changer.

Microsoft Edge: An Accessibility Overview

A man in a wheelchair uses a laptop.

We’ve looked at Chrome’s accessibility add-ons in the past, and while that browser is still a great option for accessible web browsing, some users have found that Chrome has become noticeably sluggish in recent years, especially when using specialized extensions.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s built-in browser Edge has improved over the same period of time. It’s often more responsive than Chrome, and, with Edge all the accessibility features are built-in and ready to be toggled with no downloads or searching required. Of course, that means that Edge is less customizable than Chrome, but for the vast majority of users, Edge’s built in features are more than adequate.

Canva for Education

A teacher demonstrates something on a laptop to a student.

As a teacher, keeping your lesson plans interesting is not always an easy task. And while there are tools and resources available, putting together a multimedia-based lesson plan can take more time than the average teacher has in their schedule to prepare. So, what if there was a tool that made it possible to put together incredible-looking lesson plans or presentations quickly and easily?

Enter Canva for Education, a tool that allows teachers to create and personalize lesson plans, infographics, posters, video, and more. And if you haven’t heard of Canva before, you’ve almost certainly seen the work that’s been produced through the platform.

GlassOuse: A Head-Tracking Mouse

A GlassOuse headset sitting on a laptop.

We don’t spend a lot of time reviewing high-tech assistive technology as this specialized equipment is often very expensive and difficult to acquire. However, there are certainly plenty of times when an app just isn’t enough, and you need to look to specialized hardware to do the job.

For individuals with motor challenges, this is often the case. Because of the especially physically restrictive nature of these disabilities, the typical interfaces that we are used to interacting with are no longer sufficient. The mouse and keyboard is a perfect example of this. Making full use of a mouse and keyboard requires a fairly high level of dexterity, motor control, and co-ordination. If you are someone with a disability that impacts on any of these areas, you might not be able to interact with a computer using a mouse keyboard easily, or at all.

Natural Reader

A man wearing headphones looks intently at his laptop.

Today we are going to look at a tried and tested text-to-speech app that puts a ton of emphasis on natural sounding speech. Natural Reader has been around for years, but up to this point we haven’t talked about it in-depth. But that has much more to do with the breadth of assistive technology apps than it does with quality of this particular app. In fact, Natural Reader currently stands in the number one position for TTS (Text to speech) apps on the Apple App Store, and for good reason. So, what makes this particular app the best choice for text to speech in 2024? Let’s take a look!

First things first, let’s talk about the voices! With over 130 voices that span over twenty languages and dialects, Natural Reader has a lot of variety to offer. And if you’ve used other TTS apps before, you’ve probably noticed that the apps’ reading voice often sounds stiff and robotic. With Natural Reader on the other hand, the voices are more human sounding, and the reader uses proper inflections and intonations in their speech. The reading flows incredibly well and you won’t be as distracted by the awkwardness of the speech you find in other apps.

A screenshot of the Natural Reader app.

So what else makes this app worth choosing over the hundreds of other TTS options out there? Here are some of the other features that make this app worth considering:

Camera Scanner – With the built-in camera scanner, you can take pictures of text on the go and either store it for later or read it aloud on the spot.

Conversion Options – The app also gives users the ability to convert text into MP3 format which can then be listened to on an MP3 player or smartphone. For people on the go, or for those who simply prefer a fully audio experience, this is huge! For many students, this could be a complete game changer when it comes to reviewing for tests, as it essentially allows you to do homework without having to sit down in front of a book!

Text Filtering – Through the app’s AI technology, unessential text such as a page’s URL will not be read aloud.

Tons of Supported Formats – The app supports PowerPoint, RTF, TXT, Mac Documents, PDF, MS Word, EPUB and image files.

Compatibility and Syncing – Natural reader also syncs across all your devices, and you can access the app via Mobile, the Online Reader, or through a Chrome extension.

Right now, the premium version of the app is available at a cost of approximately $130 CDN, however trials and monthly packages are also available. To learn more, click here.

This post originally appeared on the AT Help Desk website.

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