Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Google Chrome: Powerful Assistive Technology Resource

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 07.28.14

Google ChromeGoogle Chrome is a freeware web browser developed by Google. It has valuable elements that make it an important assistive technology tool for schools. Assistive technology refers to any item, piece of equipment, or product that helps people with disabilities in a learning or work environment. One reason for choosing Google Chrome is that its apps and extensions offer access and supports to students with special needs.

Google Chrome is different from other web browsers in that when you log-in to Chrome, you can completely personalize it and manage bookmarks, electronic files, and special add-on tools. This personalization can extend across all the devices you use, including school computers, home computers, tablets, Chromebooks, and smartphones.

Here are three important caveats to understand if you are thinking about Chrome tools for schools:

  1. You (or the student) must have a Google log-in address
  2. A Chrome web browser must be used on your device of choice
  3. You must have an Internet connection

Google Chrome’s interface can be “tweaked” and enhanced with apps and extensions. The set of extensions and apps that follow are a starting point for personalizing learning to help support students with special needs.

Chrome Extensions

Chrome Extensions add functionality to Chrome, allowing the user to do things like hear text read aloud from any webpage. Some valuable extensions for students with special needs are highlighted below.

iSpeech | Link
iSpeech is a free text-to-speech software that converts text to a natural sounding voice. Highlight the text you want read and click on and it will read the text aloud.

Read&Write for Google | Link
Read&Write for Google offers a range of powerful support tools to help students with reading and writing. Students can:

  • Hear words, passages, or whole documents read aloud with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting
  • See the meaning of words explained with text and picture dictionaries
  • Hear text translated into other languages
  • Write using a “predict the next word as you type” feature

Chrome Apps

Chrome Apps are web-based applications designed to be used exclusively within the Chrome browser. Using apps, you can do things like create documents and edit photos without having to install complicated software. Three apps that may be helpful for students with special needs are highlighted below.

Dictanote | Link
Dictanote is a speech recognition app that allows individuals to dictate simple notes into Google Chrome.

Lucid Charts | Link
Lucidchart is a web-based diagramming tool that can help students brainstorm ideas. Students can work individually on assignments or with other classmates to create and edit diagrams in real time.

Pic Monkey | Link
Pic Monkey allows you to capture and instantly edit web page images and screenshots. Users can crop, annotate, and add special effects to images.


Blog: Technology for Learners