Accessibility for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings

Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings are designed to work with screen readers, braille devices, screen magnification and more.

Use a screen reader

If you already use screen reader software on your computer, such as ChromeVox, NVDA, JAWS or VoiceOver, follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: Turn on screen reader support

The first time you use Google Docs, Sheets or Slides with a screen reader, you need to turn on screen reader support:

  1. Go to Google Docs, Sheets or Slides and open a file.
  2. In the Tools menu, select Accessibility settings.
  3. Select Turn on screen reader support.

Step 2: Check your screen reader settings

For some screen readers, you might need to adjust your settings when you use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings. Check your screen reader instructions below.

ChromeVox

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

NVDA

On Windows, for the best experience, use the latest version of NVDA with the latest version of Chrome or Firefox.

Docs, Slides and Drawings

  1. Go to Google Docs, Slides or Drawingsand open a file.
  2. Listen for these words: 'Screen reader support enabled'. If you don't hear anything, go to the Tools menu, select Accessibility settings, then select Turn on screen reader support. You should hear 'Screen reader support enabled'.
  3. Press NVDA + Ctrl + K, then turn off Speak typed characters and Speak typed words.
  4. Optional: Change your NVDA startup keyboard shortcut so that it doesn't conflict with Docs, Slides or Drawings. The default NVDA keyboard shortcut, Ctrl + Alt + n, is commonly used in Docs, Slides or Drawings (for example, Ctrl + Alt + n then g navigates to the next image in a document). To change your NVDA keyboard shortcut, open Properties from the NVDA shortcut. On the Shortcut tab, edit the Shortcut key so that it doesn't conflict with Docs, Slides or Drawings (for example, Ctrl + Alt + \).

Sheets

To get started in Sheets, simply turn on screen reader support as described in Step 1 above.

Tip: Focus mode generally provides a better experience than browse mode. To switch between focus and browse modes, press NVDA + Spacebar.

JAWS

On Windows, for the best experience, use the latest version of JAWS with the latest version of Chrome or Firefox.

Docs, Slides and Drawings

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

  1. Go to Google Docs, Slides or Drawings and open a file.
  2. Listen for these words: 'Screen reader support enabled'. If you don't hear anything, go to the Tools menu, select Accessibility settings, then select Turn on screen reader support. You should hear 'Screen reader support enabled'.
  3. If you use Firefox:
    • Set key echoing to no echoing: Press JAWS + 2 until you hear 'None'.
    • 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'.
    • Adjust forms options: Make sure that the focus is on the top toolbar, then press JAWS + V. In the settings window, search for 'Forms options' and untick both 'Auto forms mode' and 'Forms mode off when new page loads'. Then press OK.
    • 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.

Sheets

To get started in Sheets, simply turn on screen reader support as described in Step 1 above.

Tip: Forms mode generally provides a better experience than virtual mode.

VoiceOver

Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings are compatible with VoiceOver on the latest version of macOS. The recommended browser is Google Chrome.

For the best experience, turn off VoiceOver's quick nav feature by pressing the left and right arrows at the same time.

Docs, Slides and Drawings

  1. Go to Google Docs and open a document.
  2. Listen for these words: 'Screen reader support enabled'. If you don't hear anything, go to the Tools menu, select Accessibility settings, then select Turn on screen reader support. You should hear 'Screen reader support enabled'.
  3. If you've turned on 'Automatically speak the webpage' in VoiceOver, you'll hear the screen reader. Press Escape to return your focus to the editing area.
  4. Press VoiceOver + Shift + Down arrow to interact with the editable text.

Sheets

To get started in Sheets, simply turn on screen reader support as described in Step 1 above.

Keyboard shortcuts and VoiceOver

VoiceOver shortcuts conflict with menu shortcuts for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings. To open the menus, first use the VoiceOver pass-through keys Ctrl + Option + Tab, then type the menu shortcut, such as Ctrl + Option + f for the File menu. You can also quickly search the menus by pressing Option + / then searching for a term such as File.

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

Step 3: Start editing

Learn more about using Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings with a screen reader in the following help pages and videos.

Tip: In Docs, Sheets and Slides, you can turn off the screen reader announcements about other people entering, editing or leaving the file. Learn how to turn off collaborator announcements.

Video tutorials

Screen reader videos for Docs, Sheets and Slides

Get started with Google Docs (18.9 minutes)

In this video, you’ll learn how to get started with Google Docs, using NVDA with Firefox.

In this video, you'll learn how to get started with Google Docs using NVDA with Firefox.

Get started with Google Sheets (26.3 minutes)

In this video, you’ll learn how to get started with Google Sheets, using NVDA with Firefox.

In this video, you'll learn how to get started with Google Sheets using NVDA with Firefox.

Get started with Google Slides (16 minutes)

In this video, you’ll learn how to get started with Google Slides, using NVDA with Firefox.

In this video, you'll learn how to get started with Google Slides using NVDA with Firefox.

Use a braille display

You can use a braille display to read and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings.

View files in high contrast mode

You can view your documents, spreadsheets and presentations in high contrast mode:

  • On ChromeOS, with high contrast mode
  • On Windows in Chrome, Firefox or Edge browsers, with any of the Windows contrast themes

Use Google Docs with a screen magnifier

You can use a screen magnifier to zoom in as you move on a screen.
Important: Screen magnifiers are available in Chrome.

Mac:

  1. In the Chrome browser, open Google Docs.
  2. Under 'Tools', select Accessibility settings and then Turn on screen magnifier support.

If the magnifier doesn't follow where you are onscreen, you might need to adjust your computer settings. To turn on the magnifier on your computer:

  1. In 'System preferences', select Accessibility and then Zoom and then Advanced.
  2. Turn on Zoom follows the keyboard focus.

For more information, visit the Apple support article How to zoom in or out on Mac.

Chrome OS:

  1. In the Chrome browser, open Google Docs.
  2. Under 'Tools', select Accessibility settings and then Turn on screen magnifier support.

To turn on the magnifier on your computer:

  1. In 'Settings', select Advanced and then Accessibility and then Manage accessibility features.
  2. Turn on Enable full-screen magnifier or Enable docked magnifier. Learn more about Chromebook magnification.

Windows: To find out how to use the screen magnifier, visit the Microsoft support article Setting up and using Magnifier.

Type with your voice

You can type with your voice in documents or in presentation speaker notes. (This feature is only available in Chrome browsers.)

Use keyboard shortcuts

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides include keyboard shortcuts for navigation and editing.

To open a list of keyboard shortcuts while you're editing a file, press Ctrl + / (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + / (Mac).

More keyboard shortcuts:

Use touch input with a screen reader

With some computers and screen readers, you can touch the computer screen to move the cursor and enter text.

Touch input works in Docs, Sheets and Slides using the following screen readers and browsers:

  • On Chromebooks, use the ChromeVox screen reader with Chrome 67 or later.
  • On Windows, use the JAWS screen reader with Firefox or the latest version of Chrome.

Touch input with ChromeVox

To use touch input with ChromeVox on a Chromebook:

  1. Check your Chromebook accessibility features for the following settings:
    • Turn off Enable select-to-speak.
    • Turn on Enable on-screen keyboard.
  2. Open a document, spreadsheet or presentation.
  3. In the Tools menu, select Accessibility settings.
  4. Select Turn on braille support.
  5. In the editing area, use the on-screen keyboard.
  6. Outside the editing area, swipe and touch the screen as you would normally. Learn about using Chromebook touch screen accessibility.

Touch input with JAWS

To use touch input with JAWS on Windows with Firefox or the latest version of Chrome:

  1. Open a document, spreadsheet or presentation.
  2. In the Tools menu, select Accessibility settings.
  3. Select Turn on braille support.
  4. In the editing area, use JAWS text reading mode.
    • To cycle through the touch modes to text reading mode, use a two-finger rotate gesture. Learn about JAWS touch support.
  5. To move focus to the application menus, double-tap on the top of the screen. Use a three-finger swipe or touch exploration to navigate.

Related articles

 

 

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?
true
Visit the Learning Center

Using Google products, like Google Docs, at work or school? Try powerful tips, tutorials, and templates. Learn to work on Office files without installing Office, create dynamic project plans and team calendars, auto-organize your inbox, and more.

Search
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu
Search Help Centre
false
false
true
true
35
false
false