To improve user accessibility, the NRC website uses ATbar. ATbar has been created as an open-source, cross-browser toolbar to help users customise the way they view and interact with web pages. The concept behind ATbar is simple: One toolbar to provide all of the functionality you would usually achieve through the use of different settings or products.

ATbar is free and allows you to change the look and feel of webpages, increase and decrease font sizes, have text read aloud, use coloured overlays, readability and a dictionary to aid reading. Spell check forms and try word prediction when writing. It is a simple tool which is available for most popular browsers.

ATbar can increase the accessibility of a website and offer a personalised user experience.

It is designed for those who may not have their assistive technologies to hand and need a quick way of accessing text on the screen with magnification and/or text to speech etc. It can help those with low vision, dyslexia, other reading difficulties as well as those who may wish to just reduce the glare of black text on bright white backgrounds. It is not designed for regular screen reader users who need their assistive technology to access the computer as well as their browser.

There are three versions of the ATbar:

The download version stays available when you move between web pages and is made up of the standard functions.
The lite version acts in a similar way to a bookmark or favorite and has to selected each time you visit a new web page – it also has the standard functions.
The marketplace version allows you to build your own ATbar, by choosing the plug-ins to suit your needs then save the custom made bar as a bookmark.
Other software is available on a USB flash drive with an accessible menu system as a Portable Accessibility Toolkit and there is a desktop version of the ATbar on the download page.

ATbar Functions

The ATbar logo can be selected to receive updates for the toolbar. We suggest you check for updates regularly, and press the refresh button to complete the update. The features on the toolbar will not work with all websites, as their functionality may be dependent on the design elements within individual pages. Step by step instructions can be reached from each feature mentioned below along with explanations about how some web page design impacts on the use of the toolbar.

Fix the Web

"Fix the web" plug in to help sort out web accessibility issues that mean many disabled people are excluded from using parts of the internet. Fix the Web is offering a solution! Disabled people report problems in under a minute. Volunteers take these issues forward with website owners.

Select the Magnifiers button to increase or decrease the size of text. If text resizing makes the site unreadable you may wish to use your browser zoom feature to increase both the image and the text sizes.

Select the Font button for font and line spacing changes. You can choose a different type of font for the text and increase line spacing.

Select the Spell Checker button while writing in a plain text form. Suggestions are shown below the text-area after a pause. Disable the checker by selecting the button once more. Note that this may not work with rich-text editors that already have spell checkers.

Select the Dictionary button after highlighting a word in the web page and a definition from Wiktionary will appear.

Select the text-to-speech button to have highlighted text read aloud. You need to highlight a portion of text before selecting the Text-to-Speech button to have only that text read out. Wait for that section to finish before highlighting a new section of text. Note that large pages, such as Facebook pages, may require you to select smaller portions of text at a time.

Readability is a service that allows the user to read web pages without much of the usual clutter. It is possible to print, share are read pages later. The service works on a mobile and tablet. You will need to relaunch the ATbar to use text to speech etc. Return to the original view by using your browser back page menu button or the one offered by the Readability service.

Word prediction is offered by AIType and will work with most plain text edit forms. Select the menu button and begin typing. Allow a second for the word list to appear after the first few letters. It allows users to finish the word or choose another. It can help with spelling, word finding and may even speed typing. There are some rich text editors and Flash based forms where the prediction box may not appear or be affected by the web page design.

Select the Styles button to change look and feel. To alter the colour of the ATbar toolbar, change the web page colours – background, text and links or choose pre-made page styles. Some web page colour changes also impact on the toolbar.

Select the overlay button to provide a colour tint over the entire webpage. You will see a choice of colours – cream, pink, pale blue and pale green. These buttons toggle the colour overlay on and off. The main overlay button will hide the buttons and return the web site to its original colour. You can click through the overlay in Chrome, Safari and Firefox but only read if using Opera and Internet Explorer.

Select the return menu if you wish to restore the webpage to its original style.

Select close to exit ATbar.