4 Important Google Docs Accessibility Features for Students with Visual Impairment

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Several teachers overlook Google Docs accessibility features thus missing out on important learning and teaching possibilities for their students. In today''s post we will highlight four important Google Docs accessibility functionalities that are particularly ideal for individuals with visual impairment. More specifically, we will talk about how to use a screen reader on Docs editor, how to use a braille display, a screen magnifier, and how to type with your voice. Instructions on each of these services are based on Google Docs guidelines as outlined in this page.

1- Screen reader
Google Docs supports several external screen readers including ChromeVox (for Chromebooks), NVDA and JAWS (work on Windows with Chrome or Firefox browsers), and VoiceOver (works on Mac with Safari or Chrome). To integrate any of these screen readers with your Docs editor follow these steps: Open a Google document, from the Tools menu click on Accessibility settings, and select Turn on screen reader support.

You can also check these pages to learn more about how to use a screen reader to edit documentsspreadsheets, presentations, forms, drawings, and how to comment and collaborate with a screen reader.

2-  Use a Braille display 
This is a great feature that allows students to read and edit documents, drawings, spreadsheets, and presentations using a braille display. Here is how to turn on braille support on Google Docs.  Open a document, click on Tools and select Turn on screen reader support and Turn on braille support. For more details on Docs braille support check this page.

3- Use a screen magnifier
For this to work you need to already have a third party screen magnifier software installed on your computer. This service works only on Mac and Chrome OS. Here is how to turn on screen magnifier on Google Docs: Open a document, click on Tools and select Turn on screen magnifier. To learn more about this functionality check out this page.

4- Type with your voice
This feature is exclusively available for Chrome users.It allows you to type and edit Google documents using your voice. It also works on Google Slides. Here is how to start voice typing on Google Docs:
  • "Check that your microphone works.
  • Open a document in Google Docs with a Chrome browser.
  • Click Tools and then Voice typing. A microphone box appears.
  • When you're ready to speak, click the microphone.
  • Speak clearly, at a normal volume and pace (see below for more information on using punctuation).
  • When you're done, click the microphone again." 

To learn more about how to edit and type using your voice on Docs and Slides check this page.