Recently, one of my friends was asking me about a way to read articles and browse websites offline with assistive technology, and I was excited to tell them all about the Pocket app accessibility for visual impairment. The Pocket app has grown in popularity over the years for users looking to save online content to browse offline at a later time, and it works well with existing accessibility settings. Here is how I use the free Pocket app across my devices with low vision, and my review of Pocket app accessibility for visual impairment, inclusive of blindness and low vision.
What is Pocket?
Pocket is a free app that allows users to save articles, webpages, and videos from the internet for offline viewing at a later time. After saving an article, the content is sent to the user’s Pocket list which is synchronized across devices, and simplifies the visual display of articles so that they are easier to read. Users can adjust the text size and add tags to help organize their content as well. Pocket is available on web browsers, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa, and several other popular platforms.
- Pocket for iOS on the App Store
- Pocket on the Mac App Store
- Pocket for Android on Google Play Store
- Pocket Skill for Amazon Alexa
How to set up Pocket across devices
The Pocket extension is available for many popular web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox (where it is already built-in), Safari, Opera, and Microsoft Edge, and can be added by searching “Pocket App” on the Extensions page of the web browser. With the extension enabled, users can save web content to their Pocket account by clicking the Pocket button in their web browser and adding any tags that they want.
After downloading Pocket for Mac on the Mac App Store, users can save to Pocket in one of two ways, outside of using browser extensions. One way is by copying a URL and then opening Pocket for Mac and using the keyboard shortcut Command-S, though users will need to make sure the http:// or https:// part of the URL is included in order for it to save correctly. Another method is by dragging the website icon (called a favicon) to the Pocket app icon on the dock, and the content will automatically appear at the top of the user’s list.
iOS and iPad OS
After downloading the Pocket app, users have the option to enable the Pocket share extension within their web browser by tapping the Share button and going to the More section, and clicking the edit button. After that, users can turn on the Pocket extension and have it listed within the Share options. Users can then save content by clicking the Share button and tapping on the Pocket icon and adding any tags they want.
After downloading the Pocket app, users can save content to Pocket from their Android device by tapping the Share button within their web browser (or most apps that have the default share menu) and selecting the option “Add to Pocket”, adding tags if they want.
Did you know you can use the Pocket app with Amazon Alexa? For me, this is my favorite way to use the Pocket app for visual impairment accessibility, as I don’t even have to be near a screen to use the app, though I do need an internet connection to use Amazon Alexa. After enabling the Pocket skill, users can say “Alexa, tell Pocket to get articles,” and Alexa will list the three most recent articles. Users can then ask Alexa to play number 1, 2, or 3 and Alexa will read the article out loud.
Add content via email
Users can add content to their Pocket by sending an email from an email address associated with their account to firstname.lastname@example.org and pasting the link they want to save in the body of their email. Users can only send one link per email, but the content will be saved to Pocket within a few seconds.
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The Pocket app is fairly simple to navigate, as the home screen shows a list of the most recent content that has been saved to the user’s Pocket account. Users can open their content by tapping on the item within the list, and they will be taken to a full-screen view of their content, with a simplified background and display. Besides browsing content in their list, users can also explore different content through the Discover screen, check their notifications, and edit their profile. It’s worth noting that Pocket lists are private so no one can see what another user shares to their Pocket.
Using Pocket with large print and screen magnification
Users can configure the font type and size within the Pocket app by clicking on an article and selecting the More Options menu , then going to Display Settings. Within Display Settings, users can increase the font size up to approximately size 72 point font, and can also change the font type and background color as needed.
I also texted Pocket with my favorite screen magnifier programs, including Windows Magnifier and Zoom, and found that these programs worked smoothly with no issues with magnifying text. If I was using them to read an article, I would likely choose to use the full screen view within Magnifier or Zoom so I could easily view the article, while I would use the lens view if I was just magnifying article titles or buttons.
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Using Pocket with a screen reader
Pocket content can be read with built-in device screen readers without any issues, and the app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and TalkBack mobile screen readers, as well as desktop screen readers. Users can easily navigate the Pocket app without any known issues.
Users who do not need to use a traditional screen reader but still want to have articles read out loud can use the Listen feature within Pocket, which is a button with a picture of headphones (this option can also be easily activated by a screen reader user). By pressing the Listen button, Pocket will read the article back using text-to-speech or streaming voices, depending on if the device is connected to the internet or not. The audio recording can be paused, rewind/fast forward in 15 second increments, and playback speed can be adjusted as well. Users also have the option to change the voice used for reading out loud within settings.
Pocket Premium features
While Pocket is free to use, users have the option of upgrading to Pocket Premium for $4.99 a month or $44.99 a year to access the following features:
- Removing ads
- Additional font choices
- Custom margins and line spacing options
- Permanent copies of content (saving content even if it disappears from the web)
- Suggested tags for articles
- Powerful search capabilities- search full text of content, topics, tags, author, etc
What I use it for
Some of the many ways I have used the Pocket app include:
- Saving articles for a research paper for one of my classes
- Downloading my own blog posts so I can reference them when giving a presentation or share them with a student I’m helping
- Saving recipes I plan to make
- Bookmarking videos with audio description
- Organizing online articles that I plan to use for researching a blog post
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I love using the Pocket app and appreciate how it integrates seamlessly across my devices so that I can easily save content for future reference. I’ve also recently updated my blog so users can save any article to Pocket by clicking the Pocket button at the bottom of my posts. I highly recommend using the free Pocket app for saving offline content in an accessible format, as it is easy to use and works well across all platforms.