5 Chrome Tools for People with Special Needs

I’ve gotten several requests for Google Chrome extensions for different special needs in recent months.  I did a piece on 7 available extensions for learning disabilities back in November 2015.  However, due to the demand, I thought I’d discuss a few more!

While my original post was written primarily for students with learning disabilities, this post will discuss options for individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, low vision, and more.

5 Chrome Tools for Special Needs:

1. Mercury Reader:

Ideal for: ADHD, low vision

First up on the list is a helpful tool that makes any website easier to read.  Once it’s installed, users simply click the rocket ship on the upper right-hand side to remove ads, comments, and other distractions.

Features:

  • Removes distracting items from any website such as ads, comments, noises
  • Ability to adjust typeface and text size, and toggle between light or dark themes
  • Quick keyboard shortcut (COMMAND + ESC for Mac; ALT + ‘ for Windows users) to switch to Reader on any article page
  • Ability to send items to Kindle
2. OpenDyslexic:

Ideal for: Dyslexia

OpenDyslexic is an open source font created to increase readability for individuals with dyslexia.  It is continually being updated and improved based on input from users with dyslexia.  The OpenDyslexic Chrome extension overrides all fonts on websites with the OpenDyslexic font, and formats pages to be easier to read.

Features:

  • Transforms every website font into OpenDyslexic typeface so it’s easier for those with dyslexia to read
  • Letters have heavy-weighted bottoms so readers are able to quickly figure out which part of the letter is down
  • Unique shapes of each letter can help prevent confusion through flipping and swapping
  • Extension can be easily toggled on or off
  • Unlike many other typefaces, OpenDyslexic is completely free for everyone
3. Simple Blocker:

Ideal for: ADHD

Simple Blocker is an easy-to-uses Chrome tool which allows you to blow specific websites.  It was designed with students in mind, but can be beneficial to anyone who is easily distracted.

Features:

  • Can block specific subdomains (e.g. news.google.com) or entire websites (facebook.com)
  • Built-in sleep timer allows users to block pages for a set amount of time
  • Clean, simple user interface
  • Blocks an unlimited amount of websites, subdomains, and pages
  • Users can even block the Chrome Extensions menu, which will force them to focus on their work
4. Vimium:

Ideal for: People who can’t operate computer mice

Operating a traditional computer mouse is challenging or even impossible for some people.  This is where Vimium comes in.  In sum, it provides keyboard shortcuts for navigation and control for people who find it difficult or tiring to use a computer mouse.

Features:

  • Vimium can operate on every page except for Chrome Web Store
  • Allows users to operate websites through use of keyboard
  • Click here to learn about the different keyboard shortcuts available through Vimium
5. ATbar:

Ideal for: Low vision, dyslexia, learning disabilities

ATbar is an open-source, cross-browser toolbar that helps users customize the way they view and interact with web pages.

Features:

  • Includes overlays, dictionary, text-to-speech functions, word prediction, and more
    • Users can increase or decrease font sizes, have text read to them, and so much more
  • Three available versions:
    • Download version stays available when users move pages and is made up of standard functions
    • Lite version acts in a similar way to a bookmark or favorite and has to be selected each time users visit a new website
    • Marketplace version allows users to build their own ATbar, by choosing plug-ins to suit their needs then save the custom-made bar as a bookmark