How to use Chromebook accessibility features

Google has built a number of accessibility features to support individuals with a wide variety of needs. Here are some ways you can make your Chromebooks more accessible.

Before we start, be sure to explore and enable accessibility features in your settings first. At the bottom right select the time, or press Alt + Shift + s. Then select “Settings.” Scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose “Advanced.” In the “Accessibility” section, select “Manage accessibility features.” If you want to enable them even quicker, turn on “Always show accessibility features” in the system menu of your Chromebook to skip some of these steps in the future.

Select-to-speak

If you need a synthesized speech on occasion, try Select-to-speak. Just press and hold the Search key, then click or drag to select the content you want to hear. Each word is highlighted as it’s read aloud for better audio/visual connection.

Screen reader

Chromebooks have a built-in screen reader called ChromeVox which enables people with more significant visual impairments to use Chrome OS. It provides spoken feedback for items on the screen and can also be used with a refreshable braille display. You can turn ChromeVox on or off from any page by pressing Ctrl + Alt + z.

Zoom in to web pages

In Chromebooks, you can change the size of everything on the website you visit, including text, images and videos. It’s also possible to change only the size of the font on a web page. Follow these instructions to get started:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome. At the top right, click “More” and then “Settings.”
  2. Under “Appearance,” you can make the changes you need. To change the size of browser content, click the down arrow next to “Page zoom” and select the zoom option you want. You can also press Ctrl + Plus to increase or Ctrl + Minus to decrease. To change only the font size, click the down arrow next to “Font size” and select the font size you want. Note: You can also select more font options by clicking “Customise fonts.”

Magnification

For those with more limited vision, you can use greater levels of zoom (up to 20x) to make the screen more visible. You can turn on a full-screen magnifier to zoom in the whole screen or the docked magnifier to magnify only part of the screen.

Dictation

If typing on the physical keyboard isn’t possible or preferred, turn on dictation in your settings which lets you speak to type text in any text field. It’s even possible to add common punctuation by saying “comma,” “period,” “question mark” or “exclamation point.” Either tap or click the microphone icon in the lower right corner or press Search + d to begin typing by voice. You can also choose to type with a mouse pointer, touch or handwriting by enabling the on-screen keyboard.

Customise your cursor

You can set the cursor to automatically take action when the cursor stops moving for a certain amount of time, a feature that can be helpful for people with motor impairments. Follow these instructions to get started: 

  1. At the bottom right, select the time or on your keyboard, press Alt + Shift + s.
  2. Next, select “Settings” and then “Advanced.” Under “Accessibility,” select “Manage accessibility features.”
  3. Under “Mouse and touchpad,” turn on “Automatically click when the mouse cursor stops.”

You can also choose what action each click takes, for example, left-click, right-click, double click and more. It’s also possible to scroll a page or app simply by hovering. 

If you’d like to learn more about Google accessibility features, watch this Youtube playlist. You can further improve productivity with this 6 time-saving Chromebook keyboard shortcuts.

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