Week 7: Check out the Assistive Technology Database

Looking to learn more about assistive technology that can help you with your daily tasks? Check out the new Assistive Technology Database on the Assistive Technology: Features and Resources page of the Access Services website. 

In this database you can search for apps to help you with productivity, schoolwork, note-taking, accessibility, and more.   

Additionally, if you are interested in getting more personalized help with finding tools that fit your needs, schedule an appointment with Grace Cipressi, Bryn Mawr College’s assistive technology specialist. 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

Week 6: Document Converter

Have you ever come across an inaccessible document that you couldn’t use a text-to-speech program on? If you ever encounter this, the Document Converter is an excellent tool to help you make your document accessible so you can read it. 

Besides making files accessible, the document converter allows you to convert files from one file format to another. It also lets you apply Beeline Reader coloring onto your documents! 

To use the Document Converter, simply go to the Document Converter page on the Bryn Mawr College website. This Ask Athena article provides instructions on how to use the Document Converter. 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

Week 5: Grammarly

Grammarly is a tool that helps correct spelling and grammar mistakes in your writing. Unlike other spelling and grammar tools that are exclusive to the program they are built in, Grammarly works among a variety of social media, email, and document platforms.  

Grammarly goes beyond a typical spell checker by also checking your writing for tone of voice and misused words. 

Visit the Grammarly website to start enhancing your writing today! 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

Week 4: Beeline Reader

Beeline Reader is a unique tool that transforms the appearance of your text so it has an ombre color gradient. The gradual blending of colors sweeps your eye across the text, making the task of reading less taxing. Because your brain doesn’t have to focus as much on the task of reading, it frees up focus to be spent on comprehending what you are reading. 

There are a variety of color themes you can choose from.  You can also use Beeline Reader to change the size and line spacing of text as well as apply the Dyslexie font to your text. Beeline Reader offers a focus mode that allows you to blur out distracting advertisements and links on the page you are reading. 

Beeline Reader can be used on websites as well as PDFs. If you want to use Beeline Reader for PDF, you must also download the Beeline Reader PDF Viewer. 

Beeline Reader is available for free to members of the Bryn Mawr College community. Follow the instructions in this Ask Athena article to get started with using Beeline Reader today. 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

Week 3: Immersive Reader

Immersive Reader is a fantastic reading tool that Microsoft has implemented into many of its products. Check out this link to see the updated list of which Microsoft products have Immersive Reader. 

Immersive Reader allows you to modify the way text appears as well as provides tools to help increase understanding. You can choose the font, size, and spacing of text, as well as what background color you would like the text to be on. You can also change the text so that you can see the words broken up by syllables or labeled by parts of speech. Additionally, Immersive Reader has a feature that allows you to only see one or three lines of text at a time to help you focus. 

If you are having trouble comprehending the text, Immersive Reader has some tools to help. Using the picture dictionary feature you can click on a word and an image of what the word means will appear. You can also use the translation feature to translate words one by one or to translate the entire text into a different language.  All of the grammar features of Immersive Reader are still available when you translate text to a different language. 

Lastly, Immersive Reader will read text aloud to you in a natural sounding voice. Depending on what language your text is in, you will have an option of either or both a male and female voice. You can adjust the speed of the voice as necessary.  

Use this Ask Athena article to learn more about using Immersive Reader. 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

Week 2: Natural Reader

Natural Reader is a tool you can use to have content on your computer read aloud to you.  As the name implies, Natural Reader provides natural sounding voices, compared to the robotic sounding voices which are sometimes found in text-to-speech programs. You can select a voice from a variety of free and paid options, as well as voices that can read in different accents and languages. Additionally, you can choose how fast or slow the voice reads aloud. 

Natural Reader Google Chrome extension: This extension allows you to listen to web pages and emails aloud. Simply open the extension and click the play button to begin listening. If you would like to start at a particular place in the text, highlight that sentence and then click play so it will read from that point forward. 

Natural Reader Online Reader: This tool allows you to upload files, including .doc, .pdf, and .ppt, and have the content of those files read aloud. You can also increase the font size and convert the text into Dyslexie font so that it is easier to read.  

Lastly, both the extension and online reader allow you to download an MP3 recording of the text being read aloud in the voice of your choice so that you can listen to your reading on the go. 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

Week 1: Welcome to Keep Calm and Use Assistive Technology!

What is assistive technology? Assistive technology is any tool that helps you do what you want to do. There are many different categories of assistive technology, but for this semester we will focus on tools that help in educational and professional settings. 

This November we will host a digital escape room where participants will use assistive technology to solve clues. To get ready for this challenge (and shave some minutes off your escape room time), follow these blog posts each week to learn about the assistive technology tools you will have to use in the escape room. 

For this first week we will focus on Helperbird, which is an academic support tool available for free to all Bryn Mawr College community members.  

Helperbird is a Google Chrome extension that offers support for reading, comprehension, researching, and writing. In particular, Helperbird can help you as you read PDFs and websites for school and work.   

To get access to Helperbird and to learn all about the features available, read this Ask Athena article about getting started with Helperbird. 

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.

New Accessibility Resources and Learning Opportunities

Check out the new Accessibility Best Practices guide. This step-by-step guide helps you vet the materials and practices you use for accessibility.

Have questions about accessibility or assistive technology?

      • Stop by during Accessibility Office Hours every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12-1 pm to have your questions answered.
      • Check out Assistive Technology Talk on Fridays at 2pm for workshops all about tools and tips to reach your goals this year!
      • Faculty and staff are invited to our Lunch and Learn program for bite-size tips on how to make your class more accessible: every other Monday from 12-12:30.
      • Watch the Daily Digest for details and zoom links!

Last but not least, the escape room is back! This semester’s game is called Keep Calm and Use Assistive Technology. Keep an on the LITS blog posts starting next week to learn ways to shave minutes off your team’s time this November.  Are you up for the challenge?

LITS Welcomes the Class of 2026

LITS has a great schedule of programming developing to welcome the class of 2026 this summer and fall!

Available now!

Orientation Week

Wednesday 8/24 at the Resources Fair, 12-2 on Taylor Drive

Connect Your Device clinic – LITS staff will help you get your phone and/or laptop connected to campus WiFi!

Thursday 8/25, 3-4 in Canaday Library

Join our “Canadayland” library tour! Follow a map of candy-themed titles to each floor where LITS staff will introduce various spaces. Sweet treats will be available along the way, of course.

Contact the Help Desk with questions: help@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7440.


Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Week 10: PDF Accessibility Step 2, Reading Order

Last week you learned how to run the Make Accessible wizard in Adobe to remediate an inaccessible PDF. This week we will be discussing the final part of the process in creating an accessible PDF: checking the Reading Order.

PDFs rely on tags to be accessible to screen readers. Tags indicate how a certain element of the PDF is programmed. For example, you must tag a header in a PDF as a header in order for screen readers to recognize it. Secondly, you must make sure that all the tags are in the proper order so that a screen reader or text to speech program can read out the elements in the right sequence.

To make sure the tags are correct and in the right order, follow the steps listed in this tech doc under the heading Manually Check for Logical Reading Order.

Next, head to the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Moodle page and complete the Week 10 challenge in order to get the final clue.

If you have completed all of the activities this semester, you will have the full riddle once you finish the Week 10 challenge. The treasure is hidden on campus and ready for you to come and find! There is one prize for everyone who has registered, and each is prize is labeled by name. The treasure will be available until May 16th.  Please contact Grace Cipressi, if you are unable to find the treasure by that date.

Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Week 9: PDF Accessibility Step 1, Make Accessible

PDFs by their nature are not accessible. Whenever you can, it is best to use a Microsoft Word document instead of a PDF. However, in the case where a PDF is your only option, there are steps you can do to make it as accessible as possible.

Create an Accessible PDF from Scratch

The best way to create an accessible PDF is to create a Word document and then convert it to a PDF using the appropriate steps. If you realize there is an error in the PDF once you make it, it is best to then delete that PDF, go back to the original Word document, correct the error in Word, and then make a new PDF.

Make an Existing PDF Accessible

To make an existing PDF accessible you need to follow a two-part process.

  1. Run a PDF through the Make Accessible wizard.
  2. Check reading order.

For this week, read the Make PDFs Accessible with Adobe Acrobat tech doc and just focus on the first step of running the Make Accessible wizard. Next week we will practice reading order.

Once you are done reading the tech doc, head over to the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Moodle page and complete the Week 9 activity to get this week’s clue.

PS: This is the last week to register to participate in this challenge! Register by April 15th in order to have treasure with your name on it hidden on campus for you to find!

Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Week 8: PowerPoints

PowerPoint has the same accessibility checker at Microsoft Word. All of the same accessibility principles that you have learned throughout this challenge also apply to PowerPoints. However, in addition, there are a few extra things you must check for regarding accessibility in PowerPoints.

Slide Titles

Each slide must have a slide title that is unique from the other sides. This lets a screen reader user identify one slide from another. If you do not want to have a title on your slide for whatever reason, there are ways to work around this.

  • Make the title very small.
  • Make the title white (or whatever color your background is) to fade into the background color.
  • Cover the title with a picture.

Each slide title must be unique. So instead of using the same title on two pages, write something different, even if that means just adding a number at the end. For example:

  • Classroom Procedures
  • Classroom Procedures (2) or Classroom Procedures cont.

Avoid GIFs, Animations, and Special Effects

Sound effects, animation effects, auto playing, and other moving features like GIFs should be avoided. These can be distracting for people, especially people with certain learning disabilities and vision conditions, and can be triggering for people with neurological conditions, like vertigo, migraines, or a seizure disorder.  Similarly, sound effects can make listening to a presentation difficult for people who are hard of hearing.

Check Reading Order

Your accessibility checker might prompt you to check reading order. This will ensure that a screen reader or text to speech program will read the elements of the slide out in the proper order. Follow these instructions to check reading order.

Decorate Wisely

When choosing a background or theme for your slides consider accessibility. Does the color contrast make text easy to read? Is there too much visual busyness with the elements? A plain background is best since textured, multicolor, or picture backgrounds can make text hard to read. Additionally, sometimes the flow charts and styles that PowerPoint suggests for slides are not fully accessible and do not pass the accessibility checker, so this is something to be mindful of when choosing these templates.

For this week’s clue, go to the Keep Calm and Check Accessibility Moodle page and complete the activity listed under Week 8.