Design with all in mind using One Note

As creators of content and engaging students in learning, we need to start with accessibility in mind, first. To help you create and distribute your content, let's take a look at the accessibility features that Microsoft offers in One Note to assist you in designing and delivering content.


Do you remember those old-school trapper keepers with the bright designs and noisy velcro clasp? Well, move over because One Note is the digital version of the three-ring binder that includes accessibility options! The cool thing about One Note pages is that you can group content into sections, and each section can contain several pages. Furthermore, students do not need to write notes in a linear format if they use One Note to document content. They can type text, draw features, add images, and add other content anywhere they desire on the page. Here are some of my favorite features of One note and how it can help you design and deliver instruction thoughtfully.

  • Sharing content - collaborate with classmates or colleagues

  • Dictation - When students dictate into a computer or device, they can use Speech to Text, which will type their words for them.

  • Organization - If you are like me then you love checking things off your list of things to do. To do lists on One Note can be organized using checkboxes. For students who need to organize and prioritize their tasks and plan a group project, this is a helpful tool. In addition to breaking down large projects into smaller components (a.k.a. task analysis), these to-do boxes are useful to schedule when to complete the pieces of the project.

  • Tags - Students are able to tag content as important or if they have any questions. As well as using tags, students can organize their content by sorting it by homework, important, and questions. Study guides can even be created based on specific tags.

  • Insert files - Your students can insert PDFs, PPTs, or image files directly into their one note pages to make referencing easier. Additionally, students can annotate slides, documents, or PDF files right on the screen!

  • Drawing options - A picture is worth a thousand words, right? We may not feel like we can express ourselves in words sometimes so having drawing options is a great feature embedded within One Note. Students can draw with highlighter, pens, shapes, and they can even ink to math. Students can use Ink to Math to draw equations or math content and the program will convert it to text. Students and teachers will appreciate the ease with which math equations can be formatted!

  • Accessibility checker - As a teacher it is important that we check the accessibility of the content we share with our students - so this feature is a great way to check what you're providing and sharing. Making your content accessible means making sure that you use alt text to describe the images you use. This feature is useful for students using screen readers to view computer content.

  • Translation is available in several languages for students. Content could also be translated for parents and caregivers who don't speak English as a first language.

  • Page templates - This allows students to structure their notes in an organized manner. Providing them with the ability to self-monitor their learning. Students can track their homework and share any questions they have about the content by creating a page template. Students learning to take notes can utilize this feature so they first don't write everything down but only the important information.

  • Learning tools - This is an all-in-one accessibility option for both students and teachers. By turning on learning tools students can have the text read aloud to them, highlight as it reads, increase or decrease text size, increase spacing between character and lines of text, the contrast of text and background color (ex. Black text on a white background or white text on black background), and color code parts of speech. I would have to say that one of my favorite features is the line focus. Remember when we used the notecards to read a line of text at a time? Well, immersive reader offers line focus it will highlight one line of text at a time and darken the screen as it highlights each word using text to speech to read aloud. My other favorite feature is the picture dictionary. Boardmaker and Microsoft combined superpowers to create this feature. When students mouse of specific words they will see a visual of the word making understanding content easier for students.

As teachers, we need to design with all in mind by creating content that can be accessed by students at their own time, pace, and modality. One Note is a digital three-ring binder solution with accessibility options built right in!

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