Recently I was asked to talk about Chrome Apps and Extensions for students with special needs, so I’m leaving my ideas here. I do want to say though that these tools are good for any learner.
1. Read Write. What an amazing tool. The free version offers text to speech which, in my opinion, is the best feature. Note that the paid version comes with all sorts of goodies. I do have to, however, note that the paid version is better to be purchased district-wide. The smaller the group, the most costly.
2. Mic Note. Mic note reminds me a Evernote without the frustration. Mic Note is very easy to use, stores to the cloud, and contains multiple features that make note taking easy. Note that the free version only allows for ten minutes of audio per note, so the student will not be able record long lectures.
3. AdBlock. So Adblock isn’t going to help them learn content, but it reduces distraction. I dislike seeing advertisements all over students’ screens. AdBlock reduces those occurrences.
4. Mercury Reader. Formally called Readability. This app clears the clutter from a website you need kids to read. Let’s face it – digital media is busy. If I have to read multiple pages online, my attention is drawn to all the other text and imagery. Mercury Reader flips the page to a distract-free version and allows the user to change color contrast and font size.
5. Grammarly. This app catches grammar mistakes but goes beyond just spelling errors. As students type, any mistakes or possible mistakes will be highlighted in a coral color. It is, by far, more accurate than just using spell check in Googledocs. Students should be logged into Grammarly for more free features.
There are LOTS of Chrome Apps and Extensions that can be beneficial to students with special needs, anyone actually. I would caution you against installing 15 of them at the same time. There are extensions that cause glitches in Chrome, and it would be easier to narrow down the culprit, if you only tried a few at a time.
Just know that there are great Chrome App and Extensions that can assist students in controlling their own learning. Try a few out. Share with students and be ready to support them through the process. Not all students will not use these tools without your reminders or support. And practice what you preach, right? Use them yourself too! And lastly, share your experiences with your colleagues!