Google Docs is now easier for visually impaired users to navigate

Braille support can now be toggled with a single keyboard shortcut.


Google is making it easier for visually impaired people to use its Microsoft Office alternatives. The biggest change is a new shortcut — Ctrl+Alt+H on Windows, and CMD+Option+H on Mac — to instantly toggle Braille support in Docs, Sheets and Slides. Navigational shortcuts have also been updated so the user can hear where the cursor has ended up, including comments and suggestions. In addition, the company has improved the experience and “reliability” of sifting through long documents, as well as navigating and selecting content inside tables. Finally, Google has changed its software so that images, misspelling and grammatical errors are verbalized “directly by assistive technology,” such as refreshable braille displays.

Google Docs, Slides and Drawings have supported Braille displays for some time. Sheets was added to the mix in January 2018, alongside screen magnifier support for Slides and Drawings. The free productivity suite supports popular screen reader tools such as ChromeVox, a Chrome extension which comes preinstalled on Chromebooks, NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) and JAWS (Job Access with Speech) on Windows, and Apple’s own VoiceOver software on Mac. Braille devices also work with Google’s dedicated Docs and Slides apps for Android, iPhone and iPad.

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