If you saw the Superbowl commercial for the accessible X-Box controller, you got a (tear-filled) glimpse of Microsoft’s dedication to accessibility, and that’s starts in their education products. OneNote seems to be where much of the innovation starts, and features that work well there are often rolled out to other programs and apps in the Microsoft Office Suite. Accessibility is big with Microsoft, and when it comes to accessibility, Immersive Reader is the cream of the crop.
Immersive Reader is huge. In fact, it’s so big, we’re gonna break it’s features down and take a whole week to cover them. Welcome to Day 11 of 365 Ideas for Office 365. I stepped away a few days to attend and share Nearpod at PETE&C, but now we’re back in the swing of things.
Immersive reader looks different and has different features available in different Microsoft tools, so they made this handy chart to keep track.
Most of the time we’ll use either Word Online or OneNote Online, since they have the most complete set of features.
Let’s see what this page (so far) looks like in Immersive Reader.
Text Preferences in OneNote’s Immersive Reader
What you just witnessed was just the Text Preferences Tab.
The Text Preferences tab is all about the idea that not all reading difficulties have the same cause. For some students, it’s not an issue of decoding, but visual, or visual processing that gets in the way.
For some students, just reducing the visual clutter is a great help. That’s why Immersive Reader opens the text in a simplified, decluttered screen.
Reduced Visual Clutter
Text size is incremental, meaning there are a number of text sizes to choose form.
Text Spacing, on the other hand toggles on and off. Increasing spacing is another example of reducing visual clutter.
Microsoft chose 3 simple fonts. Initially it was just Calibri and Sitka. I’m glad they added Comic Sans. As much as people in my office make fun of it, if you are going to use a “simple font”, why use one that makes a and g look like this
instead of this
like our students actually write them?
Finally, there are the “themes”. Initially there were 6 colors here, the traditional black on white, the white on black you might recognize as “night mode” from your cell phone, and 4 other pretty pastel backgrounds, all with black lettering. These are Irlen colors, which have been used as overlays (think colored transparencies) in schools for years and there is considerable research showing their effectiveness with students with specific learning difficulties like dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and autism.
That’s just the first tab. Come back tomorrow as we dig deeper into the Immersive Reader tools in Office 365 and Microsoft Office.