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The latest Chrome OS update improves accessibility on Chromebooks

There are more cursor colors and Google improved the text-to-speech features.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
October 13, 2020
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Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Google has released Chrome OS 86, which will bring more accessibility options to Chromebooks. You can change the color of your cursor in the mouse and touchpad settings. The seven new hues are red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta and pink. Google suggests this works with other cursor customization options, like changing the size, to help people with low vision.

There’s an added option for the select-to-speak feature, which reads out text that you’ve highlighted on the screen. You can dim background text that isn’t highlighted to help you focus on the words that your Chromebook is reading aloud. That option can be activated through the select-to-speak settings.

ChromeVox, the platform’s built-in screen reader, now has simpler menu navigation. On pages with multiple languages, the feature will change voices as it reads the text and flits between languages.

Meanwhile, Google has made it easier to export websites as accessible PDFs in Chrome — not just on Chromebook. The browser can create PDFs with automatically generated links, headings, alt-text and tables. That will make PDFs more legible to screen reading software, Google says, which should help more people understand whatever information a webpage holds.

Chrome OS 86 is rolling out now. It should be available to all Chromebook users in the coming weeks.

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