Mac Accessibility


***UPDATED 2022/23***

Mac Accessibility Slideshow

Everyone learns and shows what they know in different ways. Macs can assist you and match your learning style. Your Mac is a powerful tool. It can do a lot!!! It has the ability to make reading and writing tasks more doable in the way that works best for you. 

The slideshow below contains videos that demonstrate the reading and writing accessibility features that are built into the Mac as well as the others available in Chrome and other applications. 


As an option for your students,  we have prepared a Canvas module that contains assignments for them to practice the accessibility features we show here. 

Click the following link:

Or, search in the Canvas Commons: “Mac Accessibility Training Resources




The Eugene School District primarily uses Mac laptops for instruction. Many of the tools listed below will also pertain to Chrome books and PCs.

There are very good accessibility tools that are already built into Macs, and to supplement those tools, there are several Chrome extensions that will be featured here. We have outlined some free extensions and also the district-wide subscription to Read&Write for Google Chrome by Texthelp. 

The UDL/AEM page of this blog shows educators how to create digitized, accessible curriculum, and this page walks students and staff through the process of setting up their computers with tools so that they can access the digitized text. If some assignments are not digitized, students are encouraged to contact their teachers to convert the format.  

Reading Support

Text-to-speech (TTS)

TTS is commonly used to read text on the screen aloud by a computer or other device. It can be helpful or even critical for a variety of students.  It supports those with visual impairments, learning disabilities, attention issues, or motor challenges. It can also build reading skills and improve comprehension of the material when students read and listen to text at the same time. There are many voices to choose from and speed settings can be individualized.

Students and families can set up TTS on any Mac Computer using the instructional videos below for support. There are 2 main TTS tools available to students on a Mac:

  1. The built-in Mac TTS feature will read any selectable digitized text on the screen with the keystroke combination Control + R. (select the text, then hit Control then R.) NOTE: The majority of 4J laptops are set up with TTS already, but if a laptop was missed, or the student wishes to change the voice or speed, follow the instructions in the video. 
  2. The Google Read&Write extension will read most text accessed through the Google Chrome Browser with dual-highlighting, which is superior to the built-in tool and offers many additional tools.  
Watch the video to see how to set up built-in Mac text-to-speech    video

Using Text-to-Speech in Canvas -In Canvas on a Mac, both the built-in Mac TTS and Read&Write TTS tools work well to read selected text. Students accustomed to using the built-in Mac TTS may find it is easier to continue using it in Canvas too. Students using the Read&Write extension for other types of support may want to use it for TTS also.  video


 Read&Write for Google Chrome. 

This Chrome extension has text-to-speech, as well as many other tools. It is district -owned. 

read&write icon
image read and write

What is Google Chrome? 

Chrome is a free web browser for any computer, Mac or PC, and is unique. When you sign into Chrome with your 4J user name/email and password, you can access  a variety of free and paid extensions/tools. NOTE: Opening the web browser or signing into your Google Drive does not mean that you are signed into Chrome. See instructions below. 

Eugene School District 4J has purchased the Read&Write extension district-wide. It can be accessed on any computer at school or home.  It offers an assortment of tools that can benefit all students and includes text-to-speech, onboard dictionaries, highlighting tools, speech-to-text, word prediction, and more. 
Texthelp Academy –  list of tools with videos:     Quick Guide to Tools 
First, you need to sign into Chrome correctly. (note: do not download the extension from the Chrome Web Store. It is already available to all students when they sign in with their 4J user name/password)

Sync Google Chrome -4J students and staff must “sync” their Google Chrome browsers to their 4J accounts to access the Google Read&Write (R&W) extension. Open this Quick Guide for step-by-step instructions. 

Watch the video to see how to “sync” Google Chrome.  video
What if you don’t see the purple puzzle piece icon?         video
 What if you are having trouble synching/accessing extensions? You may need to update Chrome.        
The district laptops do not automatically update when the laptops are at home with students, so it needs to be done manually .  See instructions:

Read&Write  Google Doc tools.  video
Read&Write Web tools.    video 
How to add a voice note in Google Docs/Read&Write  video
Read&Write for Google Chrome – Screenshot reader: text-to-speech tool for inaccessible text on screen or textbooks.   video
Read&Write  –screen masking and simplify tools   video
Watch the video below to see how to use Google Read&Write text-to-speech in Canvas.  video

Using Preview to convert text in-the-moment on a laptop

If a student is handed a paper worksheet or quiz and cannot read the text, there are two options for converting this text in-the-moment. The student can also mark up the worksheet if needed. 

  1. Use the camera that is built into the laptop with the application PhotoBooth to take a picture of the worksheet and annotate on top of it if needed. See video: 
  2. Take a photo of a worksheet with an iPhone or iPad and connect it to the laptop with a lightening cable and a USBC to USB adapter. Send the photo to the Image Capture application. You can then open the photo in Preview and use the Mac screen reader for text-to-speech, and the annotate feature to mark up the worksheet. See video:  
  3. Another way to send a photo from a smart phone or iPad to a laptop is to save the photo to your Google Drive on your device, then open the photo on your laptop. You can download the photo, then open it in Preview.




Writing Support

Dictation (Speech-to-Text)

Dictation can help students express what they know. Allowing students to submit their ideas using their voice can be a great 1st step in the writing process and can help students get their ideas into written format. 

Set up Dictation on a Mac –Students and families can set up dictation on their 4J Mac Computers at home using the videos below for support. There are 2 main dictation tools available to students on a Mac.

  1. The built-in Mac dictation feature will allow text to be dictated anywhere writing occurs while using the Mac.
  2. The Google Read&Write extension will provide dictation only in the Google Chrome Browser. For example it can be used in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and most websites with the option to write.

NOTE: Older Macs are set up to activate dictation with the keystrokes FN FN. The newer laptops have a dictation/ microphone icon on the F5 key. 

Watch the video below to see how to set up built-in dictation on a Mac. video
Using Dictation (speech-to-text) in Read&Write for Chrome. video
Using Dictation (speech-to-text) in Canvas

In Canvas on a Mac, both the built-in Mac dictation and Read&Write “Talk&Type” tools work well for speech-to-text. Students accustomed to using the built-in Mac dictation tool may find it is easier to continue using it in Canvas too. Students using the Read&Write extension for other types of support may want to use “Talk&Type” for speech-to-text also. If typing in a Google Doc, it is best to use Read&Write -“Talk&Type” or the “Voice Typing” tool. The “Voice Typing” tool can be found in Docs under the “Tools” tab. 

Watch the video to see the built-in Mac dictation tool with Canvas. video

Watch this video to see how to use Read&Write “Talk&Type” to dictate in Canvas. video

Word Prediction

Word prediction can support students with spelling, reading, and motor challenges.  It predicts word choices and completes word spelling based on phonetics and context.  It can help build spelling skills and increase use of vocabulary. Students with motor challenges and learning disabilities can type out more words with fewer key strokes.
Read&Write for Google Chrome has a word prediction tool.  video
Using Read&Write Word Prediction with Canvas

R&W word prediction works well in Canvas. For assignments, students can submit typed responses in the “Text Entry” box using this tool for support. Additionally, R&W word prediction is fully supported in Google Docs.

Watch the video below to see how to use word prediction in Canvas  video


PDF Accessibility in Canvas

PDF assignments can be challenging when students need to use accessibility features to access and complete.  Sometimes PDFs are assigned without having first been digitized to make them accessible with text-to-speech. PDFs assigned in Canvas should be digitized first then assigned. Once this is done, students have multiple ways to open, read, and write into them. Below are two options that permit different levels of accessibility.
Built-in Canvas PDF markup tool

Watch this video to see how to access it.  Once the Canvas PDF markup tool is opened, the built-in Mac text-to-speech and dictation features work well for both reading and writing support. Word prediction is not an integrated feature and students will need to copy and paste text using this feature from a Google Doc. 

Watch the video to see how to use the Mac text-to-speech tool in a Canvas PDF video

Watch this video to see how to use the Mac dictation tool in a Canvas PDFvideo

Watch this video to see how to use a Google Doc to cut and paste text into the PDF. This allows for greater access to accessibility features such as word prediction. video


Closed Captioning in Chrome

There is a simple way to activate Closed Captioning (CC) in Chrome: video


Other Chrome extensions: Free

Mercury Reader.  

Very nice app that simplifies a web page, changes contrast, and can enlarge text on the screen

Open Dyslexic Font: 

This extension will change the fonts on your computer to a dyslexia font.


High Contrast:  .     

This extension changes the appearance of the text on the screen. Variety of color choices.


Visually tracks areas/lines of text on the screen to assist students who have difficulty following text with their eyes when reading.

Power Thesaurus: 

Nice, easy-to-use extension to find synonyms, antonyms, rhyming words, etc… watch video to learn how to add to Chrome and use extension


Web Paint: 

Allows students to draw and type on web pages and take a screenshot of marked up page. (Students can also take a screenshot of a section of the web page on a Mac with the keystrokes: Shift-cmmd-4.  )