Understanding what technology can do is the best way to begin supporting students with additional needs who are learning from home.

As part of the planning process for supporting students with additional needs, teachers may need to consider some of the most crucial aspects for students who require adjustments. Taking time to collaborate with colleagues is the first step to identifying the following basic adjustments.

Preparing adjustments for students learning from home

  • Setting up a learning space
  • Logging into the school system
  • Checking school emails
  • Liaising with parents so they have clear expectations of how to get started
  • Providing a structure to the activities which is consistent
  • Setting a timeframe for completion of tasks – ensure consideration is given to a student’s access to technology and provide regular breaks
  • Confirming a way to regularly engage and follow up with the student

Accessibility Features for students with additional needs

As schools establish learning from home systems, consideration needs to be given to how students with additional needs can be supported. For some students, accessing technology can be quite instinctive, while for others it may be more difficult.

Schools use a variety of technology that, in many cases, may already include accessibility features. These features assist students who may have barriers to their learning to access the curriculum while working online.

The accessibility features can assist students with a wide range of learning needs:

  • vision impairment
  • reading difficulties
  • fine motor difficulties
  • physical needs
  • speech and language difficulties
  • written expression difficulties

Key features for students with additional needs to access technology 

  • Screen magnification
  • Screen resolution, zoom in or magnify your screen
  • Built in screen reader (ChromeVox)
  • Enables students with visual impairments to use the Chrome operating system
  • Braille displays
  • Plug in: Plug the braille device into a USB port on Chromebook
  • Pair with Bluetooth
  • On-screen keyboard
  • Type or handwrite text, or to add images to files, documents, and emails
  • Speech to text
  • Listen to full pages read aloud with Chromebook’s built-in screen reader or hear parts of a page, including specific words, read aloud with Select-to-speak
  • Automatic click objects
  • Set the cursor to automatically activate when the cursor stops moving for a certain amount of time. This feature can be helpful for users with motor impairments
  • Image descriptions
  • Descriptions of unlabelled images, for example, images that don’t have text
G Suite
  • Present slides with captions
  • When slides are presented, automatic captions can be turned on to display the speaker's words in real time
  • Captions in video meetings
  • Speaking in Google Docs or in Google Slides speaker notes' tool enables typing and editing
  • Caption tracks to video files
  • Captions assist students to understand and engage with videos
  • Speech to text
  • Speaking in Google Docs or in Google Slides speaker notes activates typing and editing
Apple Devices
Apple Mac
  • Voice control
  • With Voice Control, voice can support students to navigate and interact with their device by using voice to tap, swipe, type, and more. MacOS Catalina introduces Voice Control, a new way to fully control a Mac entirely with voice
  • Speech to text
  • Dictate text instead of typing it. Enable dictation
  • Vision accessibility
  • Students can listen to an audio description during a video to help them enjoy a program if they're visually impaired, or when they're unable to look at the screen
  • Hearing accessibility
  • Video subtitles
  • Some video content from the iTunes Store and Apple TV app includes alternative audio languages or other accessibility features such as closed captions (CC), subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), and audio-described (AD) content
  • Also refer to content below about captions in YouTube
  • VoiceOver
  • VoiceOver is a screen reader that describes what’s happening on a device so students can navigate by listening and performing gestures. VoiceOver's speaking rate and pitch can be adjusted to fit each student's needs
  • Typing Feedback
  • When this feature is turned on, the device speaks letters and words as they're typed, and speaks auto-corrections and capitalisations as they appear. Students can also touch and hold on a word to hear text predictions
  • Audio Descriptions
  • While watching films on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, students can turn on audio descriptions to have scenes described to them
  • Display and Text Size
  • Display and text size features such as Invert colours can be adjusted to change the way content appears on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The font size, colour intensity and tint can also be adjusted to make reading easier, and the frame rate on iPad Pro can also be changed
  • Magnifier
  • Magnifier can turn iPhones or iPads into a magnifying glass so students can zoom in on objects near them. Students can use Magnifier to read small text, apply colour filters to increase visibility, and save magnified images to your Photos library
  • Reduced Motion
  • If students are sensitive to motion effects or screen movement on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, they can use Reduce Motion to turn off these effects
Windows 10
  • Display Options
  • Adjust size, colour, magnify the screen, apply colour filters

  • Narrator-screen reading
  • Narrator reads aloud the text on a PC screen. It also describes events such as notifications and calendar appointments

  • Narrator-braille
  • See previous point

  • Colour Filters
  • Boost contrast or get rid of colour entirely—whether a student has colour blindness, light sensitivity, or a visual preference. With colour filters students can customize their screen's colour palette

  • Magnifier
  • Enlarge words and images with Magnifier. Can be used on all or part of the screen

  • Closed Captions
  • Use closed captions to read the words that are spoken in movies and television shows. With Windows 10, students can adjust the colour, size, and background transparency to fit their specific needs

  • Audio Settings
  • Windows 10 helps with turning on the Mono audio, and your left and right speakers will play the same sounds

  • Longer Alerts
  • Adjust notifications to make them appear on your screen longer, especially if you have difficulty seeing or hearing, up to five minutes display time

  • Visual Notifications
  • If you may wish to have visual notifications over sounds, text and visual alternatives

  • Text suggestions
  • Receive assistance with constructing sentences. Word suggestions appear and they can be inserted as students type

  • Focus Assist
  • Blocks alerts and notifications without being distracted. Students can add people to a list and they will receive a summary of what they have missed

  • Dial down the distractions
  • Minimise the distractions by reducing animations and turning off background images. You can clean up the taskbar clutter, simplify the start menu and use quiet notifications

  • Reading distractions-Immersive Reader options
  • Use the reading view to clear distracting content from web pages so students can stay focused on what they need to read

  • Speech Recognition
  • Use dictation to convert spoken words into text
  • Closed Captions
  • Helpful for listening to YouTube-set Caption settings while watching a video, click on the “CC” icon and then the “Settings” menu item

For further assistance and support please contact AISNSW Student Services on 9299 2845 or via email: Michelle O’Brien or Fabienne Arora.