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Set up your screen reader for Docs editors

To turn on screen reader support for Google Docs editors on the web, press Control + Alt + z (on Windows) or ⌘ + Option + z (on Mac) in your document, spreadsheet, presentation, form, or drawing.

Unless you turn off this setting, screen reader support stays on whenever you use Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, or Drawings on the web. You can find more details for your screen reader below.

If you're using a mobile device, read about Android accessibility or iPhone and iPad accessibility for Docs editors.

ChromeVox

If you use ChromeVox on Chrome OS, you don't need to do any additional setup to use the Docs editors.

NVDA

NVDA is the recommended screen reader for using Docs editors on Windows.

If you use NVDA, Mozilla Firefox is the recommended browser.

Docs, Slides, and Drawings

For Docs, Slides, and Drawings, follow these steps to adjust your NVDA settings:

  1. Go to Google Docs and open a document.
  2. Listen for these words: "Screen reader support enabled." If you don't hear this feedback, press Control + Alt + z to turn on screen reader support. You should hear "Screen reader support enabled."
  3. Press NVDA + Control + k to open the keyboard settings, then disable "Speak typed characters" and "Speak typed words."
  4. Consider changing or removing your NVDA startup keyboard shortcut so that it doesn't conflict with the Docs editors. The default NVDA keyboard shortcut, Control + Alt + n, is commonly used in the Docs editors; for example, Control + Alt + n then g navigates to the next image in a document. To change your NVDA keyboard shortcut:
    1. Open Properties from the NVDA shortcut.
    2. On the Shortcut tab, update the Shortcut key field with a shortcut that doesn't conflict with the Docs editors, such as Control + Alt + \.

Sheets and Forms

For Sheets and Forms, press Control + Alt + z to turn on screen reader support. Note that focus mode generally provides a better experience than browse mode.

JAWS

If you use JAWS, Mozilla Firefox is the recommended browser for the Docs editors, along with the latest version of JAWS.

Docs, Slides, and Drawings

For Docs, Slides, and Drawings, follow these steps to adjust your JAWS settings:

  1. Go to Google Docs and open a document.
  2. Listen for these words: "Screen reader support enabled." If you don't hear this feedback, press Control + Alt + z to turn on screen reader support. You should hear "Screen reader support enabled."
  3. Continue with the steps below for your browser.
    • Firefox:
      1. Set key echoing to no echoing: Press JAWS + 2 until you hear "None."
      2. Turn off the virtual cursor: Press JAWS + z until you hear "Use virtual PC cursor off." Then press JAWS + z + z until you hear "The virtual cursor will be turned off for all applications."
      3. Adjust forms options: Make sure your focus is on the top toolbar, and then press JAWS + v. In the settings window, search for "Forms options" and uncheck both "Auto forms mode" and "Forms mode off when new page loads." Then press OK.
      4. Tab from the address bar through the Docs toolbar controls until you hear application mode announced, then press Escape to return to the editing area.
    • Internet Explorer: Make sure that forms mode is set to "Manual." This setting ensures that your focus stays in the expected location in your document.

Sheets and Forms

For Sheets and Forms, press Control + Alt + z to turn on screen reader support. Note that forms mode generally provides a better experience than virtual mode.

VoiceOver

Google Docs editors are compatible with VoiceOver on Mac OS X Yosemite. The recommended browser is Google Chrome.

For the best experience, VoiceOver's Quick Nav feature should be turned off. To turn Quick Nav on or off, press the left and right arrows at the same time.

Docs, Slides, and Drawings

For Docs, Slides, and Drawings, follow these steps to adjust your VoiceOver settings:

  1. Go to Google Docs and open a document.
  2. Listen for these words: "Screen reader support enabled." If you don't hear this feedback, press ⌘ + Option + z to enable screen reader support. You should hear "Screen reader support enabled."
  3. If you've enabled "Automatically speak the webpage" in VoiceOver, VoiceOver begins reading the page. Press Escape to return your focus to the editing area.
  4. Press VoiceOver + Shift + down arrow to interact with the editable text.

Sheets and Forms

For Sheets and Forms, press ⌘ + Option + z to turn on screen reader support.

Keyboard shortcuts and VoiceOver

VoiceOver shortcuts conflict with Docs editors application menu shortcuts, such as the File menu. To navigate to the application menus, first use the pass-through key combination Control + Option + Tab, then type the menu shortcut, e.g. Control + Option + f for the File menu. You can also quickly search the menus with the Option + / shortcut.

If VoiceOver doesn't automatically focus on the correct part of the page (for example, if a dialog window appears), first press Escape to return your focus to the editing area. Then press VoiceOver + Shift + down arrow to return to the editing area.

You can also turn on screen reader support for the Docs editors by visiting your Google Account settings. Visit Accessibility settings, then select Accessibility settings and set the screen reader preference to On. If you choose this option, the screen reader tips above still apply.

Braille support

If you use a Braille display, you can turn on Braille support to read and enter text in Docs, Slides, and Drawings. This option is available for Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Learn how to turn on Braille support.

More screen reader resources

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

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