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Chrome & Assistive Technology (AT)

Why Google Chrome?

There are several reasons why Chrome is regarded as the most popular browser in the world: It is considered the more secure than the competition, is one the speediest, and benefits from cloud based profiles. This last feature is particularly useful for those interested in assistive technology because it allows the user to become untethered from the device. 

Your user profile is in the cloud

When using Chrome, your profile is stored on the Internet and your extensions and apps follow you from browser to browser.  The extensions and apps that you find on this site can extend the Chrome browser in powerful ways. Extensions are small plugins that add functionality, such as providing text-to-speech capability to any webpage. Apps are larger, more complicated programs that appear on a new tab in Chrome; an example as such could be an app that allows for flexible e-book reader features. Because you attach these tools to your profile, you don't need to install the programs on each computer you use--all you need is to do is log into Chrome and your tools will be wherever you are when you need them. 

Chrome for Inclusive Education

As educators we believe that students with vision, hearing, physical, communication, and learning challenges have the same potential to learn as anyone else if the "mechanical" impediments to participation in the classroom are removed or lessened. Note-taking, spelling, organizing, reading, and mathematical constructions all require mechanical skills. Thinking, although reliant on these input and output constructions, is not tethered to anyone way of receiving or expressing. Often mechanical demands (visual tracking, decoding, handwriting, etc.) get in the way of these students developing critical thinking skills because of some old-fashioned perspective that regards the manner of learning as a strict path toward educational outcomes. We have attempted to collect many of the available apps and extensions which we believe could foster alternative forms of access for real learning to occur, with the ultimate hope of extending the definition as to who can be a learner in any particular setting.

A "portable" least restrictive environment 

Using a cloud-based profile enables a student access to the tools they need wherever an Internet connection exists; although some of the listed extensions and apps may even work offline. This portability means that the student might not have need of more specialized equipment or a even a segregated location to complete some educational tasks. The student's specialized tools are available as long as Chrome and an Internet connection are available, which means access at home or anywhere outside of school is more consistently possible. Although we strongly advocate the use of any and all other assistive technologies to foster student access, we regard the value of these particular apps and extensions as being multi-dimensional: no or low cost, portability, compatibility with each other or third party tools for enhanced access, and so mainstream in design that a student may use them discretely when desired. The large-scale availability, development, and proliferation of these tools affords students the ultimate value--personal control over the discovery and implementation of ever-emerging new apps for accessibility and participation as a life-long learner.

Google's Own Accessibility Efforts

Google's mission to "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful"  is in perfect alignment with the members of the assistive technology community.  Google has built accessibility features into Chrome, such as spoken feedback and keyboard shortcut support.   You can read more about these capabilities here.  

Moving Forward with Your Help

Interestingly, many of the community-made apps and extensions have AT implications, even though they weren't created for that purpose.  This website is an attempt to identify any AT potential of apps/extensions, as well as to open a dialog about tools we have yet to list. We so welcome your input as well as applaud the many developers who have directly (or even indirectly as we have found) contributed to the accessibility needs of individuals with disabilities. Thank you. Please contribute your ideas in the Forum or add your favourite app.