Utilities/macros

Use of Macros as an Accessibility Strategy

Macros are coded sets of instructions added to existing programs to change or enhance their functionality. In some cases, macros are easy to create and implement; in others, they may require sophisticated programming knowledge. This article talks about how macros can be used as an important accessibility tool and various ways to develop them.

Examples of Macro Use

  • Macros can be used to simplify the execution of complex functions, particularly those that need to be repeated. For example, users may need to go through documents imported from other sources to find and remove extraneous page breaks; a macro can be written to initiate and perform this process with a single key combination.

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Assistive Technology on USB Drives

Many assistive technology software programs are available on USB drives (also known as "flash" or "thumb" drives). These drives allow the programs to be run without being installed on the computer, which may be ideal for public computers with security settings that prevent software installation. A library patron, for example, may show up with his or her preferred AT, requiring little additional effort or expense from the library. This article covers how your library or other public access point can take advantage of these accessibility solutions.

Public computing locations should have IT management policies and procedures in place that let users show up with their own AT, while protecting the security of the computers and network. A staffer may have to work with the user to get the software to run effectively on your machines.

Here are some things to watch out for:

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Large Computer Pointers/Cursors

Current computer operating systems use a small icon called a pointer or cursor that moves on the screen when the mouse is moved. The most common pointers are an arrow, a vertical bar that appears in word processing document (sometimes called the I-Beam), and a hand that appears on web pages when the pointer is on top of a link. These pointers can be quite small or may blend in with the background, making them difficult to see, especially for people with low vision.

This article discusses several ways to make the pointer more visible. Utilities built into the operating system can make the pointer easier to see by making it larger, providing higher contrast, or providing supplemental visual cues. If these are not sufficient, some third-party programs have additional capabilities.

Try It Yourself:

Pointer modification: Provides themes that change the color and size of the standard pointers. One Windows option has an option for animating the pointers, which may help in catching users' attention.

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Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software converts what you say into text or mouse commands. It benefits people who have physical or cognitive difficulty using a keyboard to create text.

This article explains how speech recognition works and will help you get started.

Basic speech recognition is built into Windows and Macintosh operating systems. 

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New App simulates degenerative eye diseases

A new App for IOS and Android has been developed to allow people to experience the world through the eyes of a person experiencing one of nine degenerative eye diseases, including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.

http://brailleinstitute.org/MobileApps/VisionSim.aspx

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Attention App Helps Users Stay Focused

StayOnTask is a free Android app that is designed to help you focus on a task instead of 'goofing off'. It checks in on you at random, so you can't just 'beat the clock' as you can with similar productivity aids.

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Povidi Offers Improved Access to Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a popular way to handle appointments across individuals and groups, but it is not very accessible or compatible with screen readers and magnifiers. Povidi now offers My Accessible Google, a service that takes your calendar information and outputs it in a screen-reader-friendly format.

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