The past couple of weeks have been an exercise in frustration. I managed to give myself tendonitis over Spring Break, weeding the garden. Then I aggravated it with grading papers and mopping floors. So I turned to some handy, dandy technology tools to make writing easier:
Most computers come with speech recognition these days. If not, there are programs that you can add on. They’re not perfect – my Mac kept writing ‘Kate eats’ for ‘create’ – but they can help you get enough words down to start.
- For PCs using Windows – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/turn-on-dictation-for-all-programs
- For Macs – https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202584
- 5 other speech recognition programs – http://www.pcworld.com/article/2055599/control-your-pc-with-these-5-speech-recognition-programs.html
I’ve found that this is also a great way to get a story started. Sometimes my students can tell me what they think, but have a tough time putting words down on paper. That blank page, you know! I record what they’re saying, then hand them their basic premise to add to.
Another neat trick for writing is to have the computer read back to you. This really helps with proofreading when your eyes just skip over single letters and spaces.
- For PCs using Windows – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hear-text-read-aloud-narrator#1TC=windows-8
- For Macs – http://lifehacker.com/5782701/make-your-mac-read-articles-out-loud-with-a-keyboard-shortcut
- Other text to speech programs – http://www.howtogeek.com/125305/the-best-text-to-speech-tts-software-programs-and-online-tools/
All of this finagling reminded me that there’s a huge need to make our internet communication disability-friendly. I already try to make sure that each link has a title or tag for Braille readers, but did you know the importance of using periods in abbreviations for the speech recognition programs just named? Here’s some more tips:
- 9 Simple Tips for Making Your Website Disability-Friendly – http://mashable.com/2014/04/22/website-disability-friendly/
- Why Alt Tags are Vital for Much More than SEO – http://zencopy.com/2010/06/25/why-alt-tags-are-vital-for-much-more-than-seo/
- Ten Tips On How To Make Your Website More Viewer-friendly – http://designreviver.com/tips/website-accessibility-and-usability-ten-tips-on-how-to-make-your-website-more-viewer-friendly/
Finally, to see how your site rates as disability-friendly, check out these websites:
- Originally launched in 2001, WAVE has been used to evaluate the accessibility of millions of web pages – http://wave.webaim.org/
- Everyeye helps you see what older and colour blind people see – http://everyeye.org.uk/