E-learning has become an intricate part of education in general. However, there are categories of students who don't have equal chances when it comes to accessing the Internet, which hinders their development and personal growth. Many developmental disabilities, for instance, affect the information processing and learning experience of children and teenagers.
According to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, amended in 1998, all e-learning content must be equally accessible to all online users.Therefore, using edtech in the classroom has now become a question of which or how much instead of if since even struggling students can benefit from it due to the accessibility features included.
Read more: Why designing for accessibility in e-learning matters
17 Great examples of browser extensions for struggling students
One very low hanging fruit that can help you as a teacher improve the online learning experience for struggling students comes in the form of browser extensions. These are usually available on multiple browsers and help solve various little issues students might encounter while using the internet.
With Christmas just around the corner, these browser extensions are like Santa’s little helpers.
What’s great about them is that they are many. They may be small, but they come in huge numbers. But do not worry, I’ve done my research. Here are 17 great browser extensions that can ease the struggle of struggling students:
Voice In Voice Typing
VoiceIn uses Chrome's speech recognition engine to let students voice type into any website in over 120 languages. It's the perfect aid for visually impaired students or for learners with functional disabilities.
Read more: 6 Awesome examples of edtech for the visually impaired student
The extension helps users to listen to the content instead of reading it. People with dyslexia or other learning disabilities or children learning to read benefit greatly from it and its special features such as Play/Pause, Stop, Rewind, and Forward that allow students to understand texts at their own pace.
This extension protects the eyes of the user. Dark Reader inverts bright colors making them high contrast and easy to read at night. It allows the user to adjust brightness, contrast, sepia filter, dark mode and font setting.These features are really useful for students with eye conditions facilitating reading and general usage of the Internet.
Diigo is, according to the official description, the #1 extension for annotating, archiving and bookmarking web pages. It makes it easier to find web pages for a later read or attach highlights as a reminder. This extension helps learners organize their study materials and focus better on important resources.
OpenDyslexic is a font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. Letters have a feature that permits students to see and recognize them easier due to the heavy weighted bottoms. It can even avoid letters being rotated in students' brains. Plus, it's completely free for individuals, companies, schools, etc.
Read more: Thinking differently about dyslexia in the classroom: Part 1
Spreed helps students increase their reading speed without sacrificing comprehension. It uses a visual technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, or RSVP, used by the fastest speed readers in the world. This extension helps students eliminate subvocalization, which means sounding out each word. It can help students double their reading speed to reach 400 words per minute.
This extension is priceless since it simulates the website as a color vision impaired person would see. This can help teachers prepare personalized materials to suit colorblind students. It provides a better understanding of the condition and equals the chances for this category of learners, otherwise disadvantaged.
Fluany is a chrome extension that can help students while they are surfing the Internet. Learners can create study lists, adding things they want to remember and choosing the interval at which a question or a term should appear for them. The Fluany enters into students' routine forcing their minds to learn.
Ginger Page offers Contextual Grammar, Spell Checker, Synonyms, Translations and Dictionary in 40 different languages, all really useful for developing language skills. It's the perfect tool for enhancing student's writing skills with the possibility of having texts proofread, of receiving suggestions to rephrase sentences for more clarity, of checking grammar, spelling and pronunciation.
Grammarly helps learners eliminate grammar, spelling, style and tone errors and find the perfect words to write on Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc acting as an assistant that goes deeper than grammar to offer comprehensive feedback for correct, clear and concise writing. Moreover, it gives students a personalized writing report each week to help them track their progress and identify improvement areas.
This extension is a translator for web pages in and from 103 languages that helps students accelerate language learning, reaching language mastery and comprehension. Mate also teaches learners how to pronounce correctly by showing phonetic transcription, transliteration and speaking out words and texts with correct accent. It also allows students to create custom word lists with their favorite words.
Some students may find it difficult to focus when using some online resources. Having a lot of flashing images or videos popping up, these pages can cause distress. By customizing and changing the appearance of online articles, learners can enhance text readability and become more productive being able to focus only on what they need.
Loom is a new kind of work communication tool that helps teachers and students get messages across through instantly shareable video. It's the perfect tool to use, both for students and for teachers, especially when there are certain disabilities involved.
This extension that runs offline changes the screen into a soothing orange color to decrease eye-strain, eye fatigue and restore day/night balance. Its utility is shown for all types of users, be them teachers or students.
Siteimprove Accessibility Checker
The Siteimprove Accessibility Checker is a tool that evaluates any web page for accessibility issues at any given time. It provides intuitive, visual feedback about the content teachers want to provide by highlighting detected issues right on the page. It addresses accessibility issues, it gives clear explanations of how they may affect the users and it provides recommendations on how to fix them.
Read more: 4 Tips for using accessibility features to promote inclusion
Students can be very distracted while learning. Noisli helps them create and listen to their favorite background sounds in order to focus and concentrate on their tasks. It's suitable both for teachers during creative writing classes, but for learners during studying, and people with ADD/ADHD and Tinnitus.
Visor may help with fluency, eye-strain, concentration and comprehension whilst reading. With the use of overlays, Visor may increase fluency, prevent eye-strain, enhance concentration and comprehension while reading to users with visual perceptual difficulties such as Dyslexia, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome and Visual Stress. Moreover, with the help of a point of focus feature, it further reduces visual confusions and the tendency to skip lines.
These browser extensions empower struggling students through their discreet way of solving some of the problems they encounter online, while enhancing the user experience of those who don’t struggle. Since they don’t come with a label “for struggling students” these tools contribute to a more inclusive learning environment and build confidence in all students.