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Using Google Docs With a Screen Reader

A360 Google Doc, with red box around "Accessibillity" menu

Google Docs, Google’s free word processor, has become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to Microsoft Word and other text editing programs. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that Google Docs is free (you need to buy a Microsoft Office subscription to use Word), and multiple people can easily work together on a Google Doc. Google Docs is also considered to be pretty accessible, so it allows for easy collaboration among people with disabilities. Here are some tips for using Google Docs with a screen reader.

We have found Google Docs to work best on Google Chrome (although Google recommended using Firefox, at least initially). This is especially true after Firefox released its Quantum update in November 2017, which caused Firefox to become significantly less accessible. We also suggest disabling “print layout” in the “View” menu. This seems to make text read more completely when read by a screen reader. Otherwise, lines of text may seem cut off.

You should also use the “Accessibility” menu in Docs to navigate. To access this menu on a computer, go to one of your Docs and click on the “Tools” menu, and then on “Accessibility Settings.” You then have the option to “Turn on screen reader support.” Screen reader support can also be activated by simply pressing CTRL+ALT+z. After clicking OK, the “Accessibility” menu will appear. This menu has several submenus, such as “Comments,” Graphics” and “Links,” that enable a screen reader user to skip to and read the next comment, graphic, link, etc. in the article.

Here at A360, we use Google Docs, and the other Google office applications, such as Sheets and Slides, on a regular basis. They are very accessible tools that let you collaborate with others easily, regardless of their disability. We highly recommend you consider it for inclusion as part of your company’s overall accessibility strategy.

Go to https://support.google.com/docs/answer/6282736?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en for more on screen reader support for Google Docs (article includes instructions for iPad, iPhone and Android, as well as desktop).

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