The digital nature of online courses gives students the freedom to customize their learning experience in ways that are not always possible in a physical environment. Beyond having the ability to engage with courses from a variety of devices at any time, Penn State World Campus students can take advantage of a number of free accessibility tools to change how their materials are accessed, read, and displayed.
Turning on the Immersive Reader, available within Office 365 apps and select Canvas pages, will temporarily remove most elements from a page other than the text, providing a much cleaner and simpler view of the content. Within the Immersive Reader, you can change the text size, style, and color on the page. You can also highlight different parts of speech or use a picture dictionary for keywords. This tool can even read text out loud at a variety of speeds. Learn more about how to use the Immersive Reader.
SensusAccess is a document conversion tool available to all Penn State students. Simply upload a document — such as a PDF or Word file — and within minutes, the tool can convert it into a variety of other formats. You can even transform text into an audio file, allowing students to turn an article into a podcast that they can listen to on the go. Get started by visiting SensusAccess at Penn State.
Providing a number of ways to both read and write digital math equations, EquatIO is an invaluable tool for anyone enrolled in a math-heavy course. Some of the standout features include a screenshot reader that will convert an image of an equation into accessible math code, a graph editor, and speech-to-text input. Download the EquatIO toolset to get the standalone app and browser add-on.
Kaltura is a video management platform that students can use to upload and share videos. A particularly useful feature of Kaltura is the ability to order machine-generated captions for free. While these captions are rarely 100% accurate, Kaltura has a built-in editing tool that allows users to fix any errors. Captioned videos in Kaltura also include an interactive transcript that can be downloaded as a separate text file. Learn more about using Kaltura at Penn State.
These are just a few of the free learning tools available through Penn State. While these tools may make course content more accessible for many students, there are additional resources and accommodations available through our Student Disability Services office.
- Course Accessibility: Avoiding a Separate Experience — this blog post explains how the Learning Design team strives to ensure World Campus courses are accessible for all students
- Disability Services: How to Request Academic Accommodations — learn about the process of requesting accommodations as a World Campus student