See the Screen Better on iPod/iPhone/iPad with Built-in Zoom, Large Text and White on Black

Apple has built some helpful features into its iDevices to improve accessibility. Most people who need to know are aware of VoiceOver, the screen reader that make the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad accessible to anyone who is blind or who has extremely limited vision.

There are other lesser known features that also do a great job of supporting vision challenges.


Zoom, Large Text and White on Black are three iOS features that may be helpful for individuals who have difficulty seeing the screen of an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. They may be especially valuable on the smaller iPod Touch and iPhone screens.

All accessibility features in iOS are disabled by default, and must be turned on. To turn them on, go to Settings, select General, and then scroll down to select Accessibility.


Once Zoom has been enabled, it enlarges the entire screen, in any app, when the user double-taps with three fingers. By default, the screen is enlarged 200%.  Once zoomed, the zoom can be adjusted from 100% to 500% by double-tapping with three fingers and dragging up or down. To move around to see different parts of the screen, drag with three fingers while zoomed.

The video at the conclusion of this post demonstrates exactly how the zoom feature works. The video also contrasts the Zoom feature with the more commonly used, but less powerful, pinch zoom.

Large Text

Large Text is turned on by selecting the desired font size, as shown below, along with a sample of the largest available font.


White on Black

White on black simply inverts colors on the device screen.


Please Introduce Google Chrome to ALL Learners!

How do I love thee, Google Chrome? Let me count the ways…

On the weekend, my love affair with Google Chrome was the subject of a humorous exchange on Twitter. I was surprised to discover that my friend @imalloryb was unaware of just how much I appreciate Google’s browser. So here’s a quick post that will reframe points I’ve made here before. But first and just for fun…here’s the video that prompted the Twitter comments–a wonderfully soppy commercial for Google Chrome.

Google Chrome is leaner and faster than any other browser I’m aware of, but that’s not what has me enamoured. It’s Chrome’s add-ons that have won me over, especially the add-ons that make the Internet more accessible for individuals who face all kinds of challenges and barriers. Google Chrome offers tools to support such a wide range of learning needs that I’m convinced it should be introduced to ALL learners everywhere.

The following are just a few of the helpful add-ons available in the Chrome Web Store. (I’ve linked each add-on below to a post where I’ve provided more detail.)

  • Speakit for reading web pages out loud with excellent text-to-speech
  • Voice Search for using voice-to-text to search. (Voice Search knows how to spell whatever it is you are looking for!)
  • ChromeVis for magnifying text on web pages and adjusting colour and contrast of background relative to text on a website.
  • Readability Redux for reducing clutter and adjusting font size, margins and text style on web pages.
  • Google Dictionary for quick and convenient definition of any word on a web page.
  • Speech Recognizer for versatile voice to text or voice recognition.

Finally, and this is really important

…where Google Chrome is not available, there is a portable version of Google Chrome. This can be loaded on, and run from, a flash drive, along with whatever add-ons are needed. This means the user has access to Chrome on any Windows computer anywhere. This is especially helpful at public libraries, on school computers where Google Chrome has not been loaded, at a freind’s home when I’m doing homework, etc.

So, please introduce Google Chrome to ALL learners everywhere!

A Cleaner Internet: Reduce Clutter and Enhance Youtube Viewing

I’ve written about Readability and Readability Redux. These are browser add-ons that remove distracting clutter from web pages and customize the reading experience in terms of style, font size and margin width. Today I’m writing about a browser extension that reduces clutter from Youtube and customizes the viewing experience. I believe this may be especially helpful for individuals who experience challenge with their vision.

A Cleaner Internet is a browser add-on available for Safari, Firefox and Chrome. If you follow this link, the site will know which browser you are using, and you will be offered the appropriate download. Once downloaded, it installs automatically. At least, that’s what it did for me in Chrome.

After the extension is installed, when you go to, you see only the simple search bar shown below. If you click on ‘Show Recommendations, etc.’, you’ll see Youtube’s normal start page.

Here are the first three results returned for ‘india trains paulhami’.

Here’s what I see when I select the second option. Notice that I’m given the opportunity to “Dim” the lights.

Finally, here’s what I see when I click ‘Dim Lights’. For me, this yields a more satisfying viewing experience. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Chrome Vis – Chrome Browser Add-on for Internet Users with Low Vision

Here’s more encouraging evidence of Google’s commitment to accessibility–a powerful add-on for the Chrome browser designed to make the Internet more accessible for individuals with low vision. This add-on has been created by Google, not by a third-party.

Chrome Vis is an add-on for Google’s Chrome browser that magnifies selected text and changes the contrast between the colours of text and background to a pre-set combination. Magnified text can be displayed in a floating lens immediately above the selected text, or in a lens at the top of the screen. The two modes are illustrated in the images below.

Customizable keyboard commands may be used to select and magnify text, to increase or decrease the magnification, as well as to adjust the contrast.  Keyboard shortcuts are also available to move the curser either forward or backward by character, word, sentence or paragraph.

It’s easy to set up options.  Just right-click on the Chrome Vis icon in the Add-on Bar and select ‘Options’.  The image below shows the default keyboard shortcuts; and this is where you can change them. Note: A helpful Chrome Vis User Manual is available from google-axs-chrome, the home page for ‘Google Extensions for Accessibility’.

Safari Reader Makes Reading Web Pages Easier on iPhones and iPads

Sarari in iOS5 is a much improved browser for iDevices. Geoffry Goetz provides a helpful overview of the whole range of improvements.  I’ll focus here on one new feature built into Safari for iOS5 that works much like Readability to make it easier to read web pages.

Safari Reader is a feature that has been available in recent versions of the Safari browser running on both Mac and PC computers. With iOS5, it is now available in Safari on Apple’s mobile devices.  Safari Reader removes ads and other distracting content on a web page. Reader leaves only text with related illustrations. Reader also offers a convenient way of adjusting font size, which will be helpful for anyone with low vision.

When Safari opens a web page that contains an article, such as a blog post or Wikipedia entry, a ‘Reader’ button appears in the address bar, as shown in the image of a Wikipedia article below. Note: this button will not appear on the “home” page of a website or blog. You must go to a specific article or blog post for the ‘Reader’ button to show up.  Nor will the button appear on a page without text, such as a page consisting exclusively of embedded video or lists of links.

Clicking the ‘Reader’ button on the original article brings up the screen shown at the bottom. Notice the convenient opportunity to adjust font size, with potential to make the font extremely large for anyone with low vision.  On the iPad, clicking on the ‘Reader’ button a second time brings back the original article.  On the iPhone, a ‘Done’ button serves the same purpose.