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Use a braille device with your Chromebook

You can use most USB braille devices, such as a refreshable braille display, with your Chromebook.

Set up your braille device

First, plug your braille device into a USB port on your Chromebook. After a few seconds, your Chromebook automatically detects the device, and turns on ChromeVox if it’s not already on.

Change settings

Switch between 6-dot (literary) & 8-dot (computer) braille

ChromeVox automatically chooses a type of braille based on your Chromebook’s language setting, but you can change the type.

  1. Press Search + o + o.
  2. Press and hold Search.
  3. Press the right arrow key until you hear "Switch to 6-dot braille" or "Switch to 8-dot braille."
  4. Press Enter.
  5. Optional: You’ll hear your braille language, and sometimes also your grade level. To change it, press Enter, then use the arrow keys to move through the list. When you hear the option you want, press Enter.
  6. To close, press Ctrl + w.

Tip: Use 8-dot braille to enter text if:

  • You’re using uncontracted braille, and your cursor is inside a word
  • You’re entering text into a web form, like your email address or phone number
Turn captions on or off

When ChromeVox is on, speech captions are on automatically. To turn braille captions on or off, press Search + a + b.

Change how captions and braille show
  1. Press Search + o + o.
  2. Press and hold Search.
  3. Press the right arrow key until you hear "Current display style is interleave" or "Current display style is side by side."
    • To show captions first, then braille, press the right arrow key until you hear "Change display style to side by side." Then press Enter.
    • To alternate captions and braille, press the right arrow key until you hear "Change display style to interleave." Then press Enter.
  4. To close, press Ctrl + w.
Change number of rows or columns in captions
  1. Press Search + o + o.
  2. Press and hold Search.
  3. Press the right arrow key until you hear "Virtual braille display."
  4. Enter the number of rows and columns you’d like to show.
  5. To close, press Ctrl + w.
Turn word wrapping on or off

If a word doesn’t fit on your refreshable braille display, word wrapping moves the word to the next line. To turn word wrapping on or off:

  1. Press Search + o + o.
  2. Press and hold Search.
  3. Press the right arrow key until you hear "Enable word wrap."
  4. Check or uncheck the box.
  5. To close, press Ctrl + w.

Use commands on your braille keyboard

Tip: To see braille commands:

  1. Press Search + a + b to turn on braille captions.
  2. Press Search + . (period) to open the screen reader (ChromeVox) menu.
  3. You’ll see braille keyboard commands, as well as keyboard shortcuts and jump commands for your physical keyboard.

Note: Some shortcuts won't work unless you turn on the on-screen keyboard.

Move around a page
Jump to the bottom of the page Space + dots 4-5-6
Jump to the top of the page Space + dots 1-2-3
Next button Space + dots 1-2
Next character Space + dot 6
Next editable text area Space + dots 1-5
Next form field Space + dots 1-2-4
Next group Space + dots 5-6
Next heading Space + dots 1-2-5
Next link Space + dots 4-5
Next object Space + dot 4
Next table Space + dots 2-3-4-5
Next word Space + dot 5
Previous button Space + dots 1-2-7
Previous character Space + dot 3
Previous editable text area Space + dots 1-5-7
Previous form field Space + dots 1-2-4-7
Previous group Space + dots 2-3
Previous heading Space + dots 1-2-5-7
Previous link Space + dots 4-5-7
Previous object Space + dot 1
Previous table Space + dots 2-3-4-5-7
Previous word Space + dot 2
Type an email address
If you’re using U.S. English, you can type the @ sign by pressing dots 4-7 together.

Note: When you type in an email or URL text field, your braille device will use 8-dot (computer) braille automatically.

Use traditional keyboard shortcuts

You can enter keyboard shortcuts with your braille device by entering a sequence of dots that mimic some keys on your keyboard.

Ctrl Space + dots 2-5
Alt Space + dots 3-6
Shift Space + dots 3-7
Ctrl + Shift Space + dots 2-5-7
Alt + Shift Space + dots 3-6-7
Backspace Space + dot 7
Tab Space + dots 3-5
Escape Space + dots 1-3-5-6
Enter Space + dots 4-6
All other shortcuts
Click current item Space + dot 8
Open context menu Space + dots 1-3-4
Start/end selection Space + dots 2-3-4
Find in page Space + dots 3-4
Complete description of current position Space + dots 1-4
Open ChromeVox menus Space + dots 1-4-5-6
Open the status area (where your account photo is) Space + dots 3-6-7, then dots 2-3-4 

Troubleshoot problems with your braille device

My braille device isn’t working

Try these steps on the device:

  • Make sure USB support is turned on.
  • If you’re using a braille notetaker, make sure it’s in terminal mode.
  • Check for and apply any firmware updates.
  • Try using a different emulation mode or protocol.
  • Try using your braille device with a different computer and operating system, like a Mac or PC. If it works with the second computer but not your Chromebook, try using a different braille device with your Chromebook.
  • Reset your braille device to factory settings.
    Caution: This step will erase all settings on the device, so make sure you save important information first.

For more info, check the device’s manual or contact the manufacturer.

ChromeVox doesn’t turn on automatically

If you plug in a braille device and ChromeVox doesn’t turn on automatically:

  • Unplug the braille device, then plug it back in.
  • Turn on ChromeVox by pressing Ctrl + Alt + z.

To see if your braille device is compatible with Chromebooks, check your device’s manual or contact the manufacturer.

Casey is a Chromebook expert and author of this help page. Help her improve this article by leaving feedback below.

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