Assistive technology in OSX Yosemite for students taking NWEA’s MAP tests

Like many schools across the country, today we are beginning our MAP testing across English and Math classes.  At first glance into NWEA’s instructions, you would  think that the NWEA lockdown browser automatically provides accommodations.  And, if you’re in South Caorlina, you’re used to the End of Course exam software doing just that.  However, these settings described on MAP’s administration portal are for tracking and reporting processes only.  So, here are ways to provide some accommodations for students who are visually impaired.  The following features are built-in to OSX and are fully compatible with the lockdown browser (at least at time of writing).

Using OSX’s Zoom features (for students with partial sight)

For students who need enlarged text, I suggest using the Zoom feature.  This allows students to hold a key (mine is set to Control) and use a two-finger scroll to zoom in or out.  (This is tremendously useful in presentations on software because you can zoom to parts of programs that your audience may have a hard time seeing!)

First, open System Preferences and select Accessibility.

System Preferences - Accessibility

Then, from the Accessibility screen, select the Zoom tab.  Check the box next to “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom” and set the key that will work best to zoom.

System Preferences - Accessibility - Zoom

 

After launching the NWEA lockdown browser (or your selected web browser), the student can hold the selected button and zoom by using the two-finger scroll.

 

Using OSX’s VoiceOver features (for students with no sight)

For students who need full text-to-speech accommodations, I suggest turning on VoiceOver, which is OSX’s built-in screen reading tool.  This is a tremendously valuable built-in feature that makes Microsoft’s attempts pale in comparison.  However, with its power comes a learning curve that I sometimes have a hard time grasping.  Fortunately, Apple provides thorough documentation, a built-in tutorial and also finally mapped all of the key functions that help sighted assistants learn how to navigate, too.  There are also great sites run by those with visual impairments who specifically write about Apple Accessibility features.

To turn on Voiceover, you simply have to hold Command and tap F5 on the keyboard.  The first time, the tutorial may come up.  Otherwise, you can access those features again under System Preferences > Accessibility > VoiceOver.System Preferences - Accessibility - VoiceOver

After launching the NWEA lockdown browser (or your selected web browser), the student can navigate the different parts of the NWEA test by using the Tab key for question items, Space Bar for entering answers and other VoiceOver controls to navigate through the test.

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