The Google Chrome browser offers a rich web experience AND it has a large library of add-ons to support students that struggle with reading and writing. Jennifer McDonald-Peltier is an AT Specialist at the Center for Accessible Technology (cforat.org) and a Presenter in the AT Coalition Online Classroom. Here's a list of Jen's Top 10 free Chrome tools that help make the writing process easier.
Dictate your writing instead of writing!
Writing reports and papers manually can be painful for students who struggle with spelling, are slow keyboarders or not able to write due to physical disability. Speech to Text programs like Click to Dictate can boost writing production, allow students to overcome physical and fatigue barriers. Student is not focused on the mechanics of writing which can be a high barrier, and rather focus on what they want to say.
With the Click to Dictate extension students are able to dictate into other apps such as Storyboard or writing a Blog. It also offers word replacement technology to boost vocabulary.
Technical aspects of writing a challenge? Get a Free Assistant.
Grammarly is an automated grammar checker that can correct misspelled words, identify subject-verb agreement and even, as Jen likes to call them, identify and correct "Confusables". Confusables are words that are easily confused. Words that sound the same (red and read) or word usage that can baffle the best of us such as were / where / we're / wear.
A grammar tool for older students.
The Hemingway App is not free but does offer high level writing tools such as identifying passive vs active voice and flagging sentence length through color coded highlighting. It helps users write in a simple, clear, and powerful manner. Older students find this useful to improve their writing style.
Ideal for ADHD and Low Vision.
Mercury Reader is a chrome extension that runs on top of websites. It removes ads, graphics, and distractions leaving only text for a simplified reading view. Additional features include altering text size, changing font style, and the ability to switch to white text on a black background for better contrast. Great for focusing students in on what's relevant on the page.
Research-backed tool to improve reading ability.
Beeline Reader offers color coding to help the eye track sentences from one line to the next to make reading more accessible and faster. Not a free tool but does offer individual license for $10/year and discounts for educators.
Are you looking for a tool that reduces the complexity of language?
Rewordify simplifies difficult text passages to make them easier to understand. It can change higher level vocabulary to simpler terms. "Decimated becomes destroyed". "Estate homes" become "huge houses". Color highlighting and differing views of suggested edits allow students easier access to reading and builds vocabulary.
Real-world news articles customized by Lexile level
Newsela is a web-based tool that translates current news so that students with different reading comprehension levels can understand. Newsela changes the syntax, sentence length and vocabulary of the article.
Ideal for individuals with dyslexia.
For self-editing of writing, there's nothing better than hearing your work read outloud. Much easier to catch your mistakes when you hear your writing. Read and Write for Google Chrome offers a toolbar that can support writing or reading Docs, PDFs , and Websites. In addition to text to speech functionality it also offers annotation tools, word prediction, synchronized highlighting, and a talking dictionary.
For PDF and Document Annotation.
With Kami tools, students can annotate, markup, and collaborate on worksheets, PDFs, documents, or image files. Kami has a toolbar that runs vertically along the left-hand side of the screen. The toolbar is visually easy to use as it has white icons on a black background. Kami offers paid upgrades for access to some features.
Terrific research tool for students.
Scrible is a Chrome extension with a toolbar that "floats" over a website. It allows students to annotate, tag and share online articles. There are multiple ways to annotate including tools to highlight, bold, underline, and add color to flag key passages. It even includes a sticky note option to anchor critical sections.
Would you like to hear more about Jen's favorite assistive technology for reading and writing? Take a look at our Archived Webinars.