Last updated:

19th December 2023

Using technology to help meet your accessibility needs

There are many online tools designed to help people with accessibility needs navigate the internet, a large number of them are available for free and simple to use.

Translating webpage content 

If you need a webpage translated from one language to another, there are multiple ways to do so using Google Translate.

To add Google Translate to your Google Chrome browser, follow these steps:

  • Open your browser, then go to “settings” via the drop-down main menu in the upper right-hand corner of your browser.
  • Once the “settings” tab loads, click on “extensions” on the left-hand side of the page.
  • After that page loads, navigate to the bottom of the page and click on “get more extensions.”
  • Search for Google Translate and click on “add to Chrome”.
  • Once the extension is added, you can click on the Google Translate icon in the upper right-hand corner of your browser to translate a page.

Alternatively, you can activate Google Translate on a page in your chosen web browser by visiting a foreign website, right-clicking anywhere on the page, and selecting “translate” from the context menu.

Many browsers, for example, Microsoft Edge, will have a dedicated section for languages under the settings menu. Here, you can select multiple preferred languages and reorder them as you like. The browser will then be able to automatically translate and open webpages in your chosen languages for you. It can also prompt you with a pop-up box offering to translate a page for you if it appears in a language that isn’t on your list of preferences.

To translate webpages if you use Safari as your internet browser:

  • Click the “aA” icon located on the left side of the address bar
  • Choose “translate to” and select your preferred language
  • Click on “enable translation” when prompted 
  • The page will then reload in your chosen language. You can change the language or turn off translation via the “aA” icon.

Voice-over and read-aloud software

If you have a visual impairment or just prefer to have information read aloud to you, there is a variety of free software available online that will talk you through what appears on a webpage. 

Windows software includes a sophisticated built-in screen reader called Narrator, which can accurately describe what’s on your screen. It can be controlled by mouse, touch screen, and is compatible with braille display devices. 

Microsoft’s complete guide to setting up and customising Narrator to your needs can be found here:

Microsoft's complete guide to Narrator

Microsoft Edge also includes a simple screen reader on the right-hand side of the address bar. To activate it, click on the icon that resembles a capital ‘A’ with two curved lines that illustrate sound waves. You can navigate around the page, including skipping or repeating sections, using the arrows that appear when the screen reader is activated. 

There is also an Immersive Reader option that can be accessed by clicking the icon that resembles a book and a speaker. Clicking this icon will launch a simplified version of a webpage and provide easy access to the read aloud service, text preferences, and reading preferences menu. 

If you own an Apple device such as a Macbook, there is a screen reader called VoiceOver already installed on it.

For basic set up:

  • Go to system preferences
  • Select accessibility
  • Click on speech then tick the box next to the option “speak selected text when the key is pressed”

The default key used to activate the screen reader can be changed using the “change key” button. Take care not to change it to a shortcut that is already used for another function.

Apple has made a detailed guide to setting up and customising VoiceOver to your needs, which can be found by clicking the button below:

Apple's guide to visual accessibility

For further information on how to make your devices easier to use, including how to increase the size of text, increase colour contrast, and add closed captions, click on the links below:

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