With new environments can come new barriers for people with disabilities as we learn to adapt to new circumstances of working from home, participate in virtual meetings, and teach in virtual classrooms. The following resources and assistive technologies have been temporarily been made free of charge and become widely accessible for home use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Freedom Scientific has release special, free, short-term licenses of these three softwares for individuals with a personal email address in Canada or the United States
- Quillsoft has an Extended Access Request form for a trial to use for remote work or online learning. Once you fill out the form, they’ll email you with your trial information within 24 hrs
- Kurzweil education is offering a free subscription for all during COVID-19
- TextHelp offers free trials of their products, including: Read&Write, and EquatIO. Current customers have free access to any of the other tools in their product suite until the end of the academic year.
In a short amount of time, students, faculty and staff are having to learn new tools and technologies to manage with the transition to online learning. Below are a few tips regarding the accessibility features of a few of these technologies, to support the transition:
- Using Microsoft Teams with a screen reader
- Using Live Captions in a Teams meeting
- Changing your viewing settings to high contrast or dark mode
- Closed captioning
- Automatic transcripts
- Keyboard accessibility – hot keys and keyboard shortcuts
- Screen reader: it is WCAG 2.1 AA compliant
- Keyboard navigation
- Low vision supports
- Screen reader supports
The Office for Students with Disabilities has prepared a webpage with other resources for personal technology solutions, based on what you need/are looking for. While the website is targeted to students, many of the resources are free or low-cost, and can benefit anyone.
If you know of other resources to suggest, or would like to contribute to this list, please email the Accessibility Advisor, Rachel Desjourdy:Rachel.desjourdy [at] mcgill.ca ( )