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Use a Braille display to read and enter text

You can use a Braille display to read and enter text in Docs, Slides, and Drawings.

Braille support on your Mac or PC

To turn on Braille support on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Open a document, presentation, or drawing in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer.
  2. If you haven't already turned on screen reader support for the Docs editors, press Ctrl + Alt + z (Windows) or ⌘ + Option + z (Mac).
  3. Press Alt + / (Windows, Chrome OS) or Option + / (Mac) to open a menu search.
  4. Type "Braille" to bring up the Enable Braille support option. You'll hear "Enable Braille support, not checked."
  5. Press Enter. You'll hear "Braille support enabled."

To turn off Braille support, repeat steps 3 and 4 above. After you press Enter, you'll hear "Braille support disabled."

If you turn Braille support on or off in Docs, Slides, or Drawings, the setting applies whenever you sign in to any of these editors.

Once you've turned on Braille support, you'll notice the following improvements:

  • When you're typing or navigating character by character, the screen reader announces your changes more quickly.
  • The screen reader's announcements of punctuation and whitespace are better.
  • Docs, Slides, and Drawings now follow your screen reader's settings for character echo and word echo while typing. (Previously, characters were always echoed, and screen reader typing echo had to be turned off for some screen readers.)
  • With some browsers and screen readers, you can use the cursor routing button on your Braille display to move the cursor in text. This feature is currently available for NVDA (with Chrome or Firefox) and for JAWS (with Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer).

Known issues

Braille support currently has the following limitations:

  • It isn't yet possible to enter special characters from the keyboard. To enter special characters, open the the Insert menu and select "Special characters."
  • It isn't yet possible to use the Braille display to navigate. Text input and output are the only supported uses at this time.
  • In some cases, special announcements (e.g. styles, comments, footnotes, and equations) are shifted by a character. This issue applies only to screen readers that announce the character after the cursor, rather than the character just passed over by the cursor, when the cursor moves. Affected screen readers include ChromeVox, NVDA, and JAWS, depending on your settings.
  • Verbalization of comments or styles can interfere with the screen reader’s announcements of the text when navigating through content.
  • If you use NVDA, we recommend using the latest version for the best experience. Please be aware that Braille feedback for typing isn't yet fully supported, and link text isn't verbalized.
  • If you use a Mac, Braille support in the Docs editors is compatible with Mac OS X Yosemite.

Braille support on mobile devices

In the Docs and Slides apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad, you can use a Braille device to read and enter text. You don't need to adjust any settings in order to use your Braille device.

Learn more about Android accessibility or iPhone and iPad accessibility for Docs editors.

Mary is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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