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Browser Extensions for Accessibility

Posted on Nov 26, 2012

Recently, Internet browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox began allowing users to design “extensions” that other users could download and integrate with their web browser. Many individuals take advantage of extensions to personalize their browsing experiences, but what many probably fail to realize is that some extensions promote accessibility. In fact, several extensions appear to be designed explicitly for making the Internet a more accessible place. The cost of these extensions is also a key factor in that these extensions are free. Ordinarily, an individual with disabilities might have to buy specialized, and often expensive, software. Now, though, those with disabilities can have increased access without any costs.

In Chrome’s web store, there is an extensions category labeled “accessibility.” Firefox, unfortunately, does not have a similar category, but a search function exists to find Firefox extensions that might help with accessibility. Based on a quick once-over of the two browsers’ extensions, though, it appears that Chrome has the edge in terms of number of extensions,

The Chrome web store features extensions including Read&Write for Google Docs, Chrome Daltonize, ChromeVox, and Readability Redux. Read&Write “adds accessibility features to Google Docs such as Text To Speech with Dual Synchornized Highlighting and Study Skills tools.” Daltonize, which might be one of the neatest extensions I’ve seen, allows “color-blind users to see what they otherwise would have missed,” which is to say that Daltonize makes images accessible to individuals suffering from color-blindness as well as individuals who may struggle with differentiating various colors (Protanopia, Deuteranopia, and Tritanopia). ChromeVox is a screen reader that helps with across the various pages of the Internet, and Readability Redux “makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you’re reading.”

Josh Luthi is a computer science student at the University of Kansas and has a penchant for politics.

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