The stats are in and once again PC leads the way on the must need technology, following right behind with iOS on a mobile device. Though Jaws still leads the way in screen reader access, other talking software is on the rise since these are free and people do like free.

Depending on your job will depend on what type of power you need in a screen reader device: For my students, they need a minimum of 2, some instances 3. It is being prepared for anything that comes one’s way is the key. Combine that with an iOS device and our students have the power they need to do anything.

Find out all the results from this survey at: Screen Reader User Survey #6 Results

Operating System
Response # of Respondents % of Respondents
Windows 2140 85.3%
Apple 171 6.8%
iOS 134 5.3%
Android 33 1.3%
Linux 26 1.0%
Nokia 4 .2%


Which of the following desktop/laptop screen readers do you commonly use?
Screen Reader # of Respondents % of Respondents
JAWS 1098 43.7%
NVDA 1040 41.4%
VoiceOver 778 30.9%
Window-Eyes-no longer used 745 29.6%
ZoomText 691 27.5%
System Access or System Access To Go 173 6.9%
ChromeVox 71 2.8%
Other 163 6.5%


Which of the following is your primary mobile platform?
Mobile Platform # of Respondents % of Respondents
Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch 1443 69.6%
Android 430 20.8%
Nokia 79 3.8%
Other 120 5.8%


Chrome book Accessibility features

Not  recommended for blind students–still too many barriers to total accessibility and speed with Chromevox

  1. Accessibility features built into Chrome OS on Chromebooks:
    1. Screen Magnification
    2. High Contrast
    3. Spoken feedback/ChromeVox


  1. ChromeVox for Google Chrome – text to speech
  2. Voice Note for Google Chrome – speech to text
  3. Ipad OS 9 features


**** to turn off ChromoVox in Google Chrome – go to paper looking icon – click tools – click extensions – and disable  *****


How to Enable Accessibility Options In Chrome OS

To enable accessibility options in Chrome OS, go to settings and search accessibility. You can also access them by going to Settings > Advanced Options > Accessibility

Chromevox Suit of Accessibility Options for Chrome

ChromeVox is a screen reader for Chrome which brings the speed, versatility, and security of Chrome to visually impaired users. Here is a video explaining the features of this extension.

How Spoken Feedback Works

From the Chrome OS help website:

  • On the sign-in screen, the user name field and password prompts are spoken. Your password is not echoed when you enter it for security reasons.
  • Once you’re signed in, the Chrome OS screenreader, ChromeVox, is activated. With ChromeVox active, you get spoken feedback for all user actions (e.g. browsing menus, opening webpages).
  • ChromeVox provides a set of keyboard commands you can use to navigate Chrome menus and webpages. You can navigate web content in a variety of ways. For example, pressing the arrow keys while holding down the Shift and Search keys moves through the elements on the current page and speaks them intelligently as they are traversed. If you’re using an external keyboard (on a Chromebook or Chromebox), the shortcut keys are Shift and Windows key


ChromeVox User Guide

ChromeVox is a screen reader for Chrome which brings the speed, versatility, and security of Chrome to visually impaired users. The following are a few resources to help you start using ChromeVox or to help you learn new features if you’re an experienced ChromeVox user.

Activating ChromeVox

ChromeVox is available as an extension for Google Chrome on Windows and Mac OS and comes built into Chrome OS to provide out of box accessibility. The information below should help you setup ChromeVox in your environment.

·Installing ChromeVox in Google Chrome on Windows and Mac OS

ChromeVox is an extension for Google Chrome and is available for one-click install via the Chrome Web store.

·Enabling ChromeVox on Chrome OS

Learn how to get up and running with ChromeVox on Chrome OS devices.

Using ChromeVox

·ChromeVox Interactive Tutorial

This tutorial is intended to be used with ChromeVox running. It’s an interactive walkthrough that introduces ChromeVox features one at a time, and enables you to try them out as you read the tutorial.

·Navigating with ChromeVox

A quick-start guide to navigating with ChromeVox.

·ChromeVox Keyboard Shortcuts

This page lists all of the ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts for your reference. ChromeVox also includes an interactive command lookup feature.

·Release Notes

Details about changes in the 1.31 ChromeVox release available on the Chrome Web Store.

ChromeVox Keyboard Shortcuts Reference

This reference a complete list of all the keyboard commands associated with ChromeVox. These commands can be referenced at any time through the command help menu. Press ChromeVox + Period and use the up and down arrow keys to navigate or begin typing the command you are looking for.

If you are using ChromeVox on Chrome OS, the ChromeVox Keys are Search + Shift. On Mac OS X, the ChromeVox keys are Control + Command and on Windows and other platforms, the ChromeVox keys are Control + Alt.

Sticky Mode

  • On Chrome OS, double-tap the Search key to enable/disable sticky mode.
  • On Mac OS, double-tap the left Command key to enable/disable sticky mode.
  • On Windows, double-tap the Insert key to enable/disable sticky mode.

Prefix Key

The Prefix Key is activated by pressing Control + Z. If the prefix is activated, the next key press will behave as if the ChromeVox keys are enabled. After that, the ChromeVox keys will go back to being off unless the Prefix Key is pressed again.

Speech Commands

  • Control = Stop speaking the current text
  • ChromeVox + Single quote = Increase pitch of speech
  • ChromeVox + Semicolon = Decrease pitch of speech
  • ChromeVox + Close Bracket = Increase rate of speech
  • ChromeVox + Open Bracket = Decrease rate of speech

Basic Navigation

  • ChromeVox + Down = Navigate Forward
  • ChromeVox + Up = Navigate backward
  • ChromeVox + Right = Navigate forward at a more detailed level
  • ChromeVox + Left = Navigate backward at a more detailed level
  • ChromeVox + Equals = Change navigation level to more detail
  • ChromeVox + Minus = Change navigation level to less detail
  • Enter = Activate current item
  • ChromeVox + Space = Force click on current item
  • ChromeVox + R = Start reading from current location

Jump Commands

ChromeVox allows you navigate through lists of similar items, such as links, headers etc. To move to a specific item on a page, press ChromeVox + either N or P. N stands for Next and P stands for Previous.


To move to the next header on the page, press ChromeVox + N then H. To move to the previous header on the page, press ChromeVox + P then H.

You can also move to a specific heading level by pressing ChromeVox + N or P then the number representing that heading level. For example, to move to the next level 2 header, press ChromeVox + N then 2.

Other items

  • Tab = Jump to next focusable item
  • Shift + Tab = Jump to previous focusable item
  • Press ChromeVox + N or ChromeVox + P and then one of the following commands:
    • A = Anchor
    • Q = Block quote
    • B = Button
    • X = Checkbox
    • C = Combobox
    • G = Graphic
    • H = Heading
    • J = Jump
    • ; = Landmark
    • F = Form Field
    • L = Link
    • O = List
    • I = List item
    • R = Radio button
    • S = Slider
    • T = Table

Table Mode

Table Mode is activated by ChromeVox + Back slash when reading a table. The following are the commands that become available only in table mode.

  • ChromeVox + Back space = Force exit table mode
  • ChromeVox + Down = Go to next table row
  • ChromeVox + Up = Go to previous table row
  • ChromeVox + Right = Go to next table column
  • ChromeVox + Left = Go to previous table column
  • ChromeVox + T then H = Announce headers of the current cell
  • ChromeVox + T then L = Announce coordinates of the current cell
  • ChromeVox + T then Open bracket = Go to beginning of table
  • ChromeVox + T then Close bracket = Go to end of table
  • ChromeVox + T then Semicolon = Go to beginning of the current row
  • ChromeVox + T then Single quote = Go to end of the current row
  • ChromeVox + T then Comma = Go to beginning of the current column
  • ChromeVox + T then Period = Go to end of the current column

Use the command help menu ChromeVox + Period to explore additional table commands.

Getting Help

  • ChromeVox + O then T = Open ChromeVox Tutorial
  • ChromeVox + Period = Show ChromeVox command help
  • Escape = Hide ChromeVox command help
  • ChromeVox + O then O = Open options page
  • ChromeVox + Forward Slash = Enable search within the page.

Browser commands

Address bar

  • Control L = Move to the address bar. From here you can type your search term in the address bar and press Enter to see results. In addition to search terms, you can type in the web address of a site, and press Enter to go to the site.

Working with tabs

  • Control + T = Open a new Tab
  • Control + W = Close a Tab
  • Control + Tab = Move through Tabs

Keyboard explorer

  • ChromeVox + O + K = Open keyboard explorer

Chrome OS Keyboard

Deactivate ChromeVox

  • ChromeVox can be activated / deactivated at any time by pressing ChromeVox + A + A











Accessibility Features on a Chromebook

posted Oct 17, 2012, 8:07 AM by Molly Schroeder

By mistake, one of my teachers found out about the Chromebook Accessibility features.  Here is the information on how to Enable Spoken Feedback.  Thanks to Scott Johnson for this information!

Enable spoken feedback

If you’re on the main sign-in screen, press Ctrl+Alt+Z to enable or disable spoken feedback. You can also adjust this option on the Settings page.

  1. If you haven’t already, sign in to your Chrome device.
  2. Click the status area in the lower-right corner, where your account picture appears.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Click Show advanced settings at the bottom of the page.
  5. In the “Accessibility” section, select the “Enable spoken feedback” checkbox.

How spoken feedback works

  • On the sign-in screen, the user name field and password prompts are spoken. Your password is not echoed when you enter it for security reasons.
  • Once you’re signed in, the Chrome OS screenreader, ChromeVox, is activated. With ChromeVox active, you get spoken feedback for all user actions (e.g. browsing menus, opening webpages).
  • ChromeVox provides a set of keyboard commands you can use to navigate Chrome menus and webpages. You can navigate web content in a variety of ways. For example, pressing the arrow keys while holding down the Shift and Search keys moves through the elements on the current page and speaks them intelligently as they are traversed. If you’re using an external keyboard (on a Chromebook or Chromebox), the shortcut keys are Shift and Windows key.



Constant access can happen with a teacher when students learn how to use Skype with Jaws scripts. The scripts will allow the blind person to go anywhere and do anything in Skype. When sitting in class they can contact the teacher for help through a quick text and recieve the answer in seconds….no matter where the teacher is at in the world.

Watch Youtube video: Demonstration of how to use Skype with Jaws scripts to communicate with students

Calling all blind Seniors:

If you want to impress your senior committee members for your Senior Project….this is the way to do it. Just create a PPT right before their eyes, with just a keyboard and talking software and any of the other myriad of great tech skills you use to access the world.

Completely blind yet notice the perfect touch typing skills- click on  You Tube. She knows all the keystrokes to insert videos and pictures into a PowerPoint presentation and complete the perfect slide show



Now that the Cogswell-Macy Act has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as HR3535 and is beginning to get a fair bit more attention, as the principal author of the blindness provisions, I’m starting to hear both a lot of excitement about the bill and some questions about it, and I wanted to make sure that the lines of communication are open and clear. In particular, I’m hearing that some folks are concerned about the bill’s potential impact on braille use and instruction, so let me try to address that. And please feel free to share this with others who may be interested.

First, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act is intended to make the strongest case possible for the need for dramatic improvements in the education of students who are blind, deaf, or deafblind, and as such, H.R.
3535 is the most comprehensive special education legislation meeting the unique needs of students with sensory disabilities that our communities have come together to promote in decades. While it is conceivable that the bill could be enacted by the Congress as stand-alone legislation, more than likely, the policy objectives it is intended to achieve will be incorporated in Congress’s overall effort to review and amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which the Congress is expected to take up in the next couple of years. However, we shouldn’t wait for Congress, and in fact many of us are working with the U.S. Department of Education now, as we have been doing for a long time, to keep making improvements for students. But the Cogswell-Macy bill sets out the specific longterm legislative changes that must be made to IDEA if all of the students we care about are going to succeed.

The main things that the Cogswell-Macy bill does include: making sure students with sensory disabilities, including those  who have additional disabilities, nevertheless have their blindness, deafness, or deafblindness properly identified and those sensory-specific learning needs addressed; holding states and schools more accountable than they are today for all of the services our students need; adding resources to the blindness community so that our teachers can do their jobs better; and particularly with respect to deafblindness, promote intervener services and much more recognition of the full array of services needed by students with deafblindness. There is a lot to the Cogswell-Macy Act, but in brief, it is really the first time our communities have come together in this way to lay out in know uncertain terms that all of the specialized services our kids need must be met if America’s special education system is going to be meaningful for them.

Far from undermining instruction in and use of braille, the Cogswell-Macy bill reaffirms that every child who is blind is to be provided with braille unless the team of educators, administrators, parents and other advocates, the IEP Team, makes a determination after appropriate evaluation that braille isn’t appropriate for this or that child. This has been the law of the land since 1997. Why isn’t braille being provided today as it should be? We know that there are lots of excuses, including negative attitudes about braille, the unavailability of teachers to teach it, and so on. But one key reason why students are denied braille is that they are not recognized as being blind but are classified as having multiple disabilities or are categorized in one other of the thirteen disability categories in IDEA. Since most of the students we’re fighting for do in fact have additional disabilities, you can imagine that lots of students who are blind or deafblind are getting put into other disability categories and so are not being recognized for their blindness-related learning needs.
The Cogswell-Macy bill puts a stop to this practice, making the braille mandate even more meaningful. And for those students who are in fact blind only, the Macy bill demands, as it does for blind students who do have additional disabilities, that the U.S. Department of Education take the braille mandate much more seriously and track whether students are in fact receiving braille as they should.

It is true that H.R. 3535 also lays out additional services to which students who need such services must clearly have a legal right to in order for them to fully participate and succeed in school. These services include orientation and mobility, low vision services and devices, independent living and other vital services. But it is important to remember that everything in the Cogswell-Macy bill, just like everything in IDEA, is about spelling out what the students we care about must have a right to. No law is automatic or can work without strong advocates to make it a reality.
So what we need to do is to give parents every tool that we can give them to make sure that their children have access to any and all services that they need. For example, if it is suggested to parents that their child be evaluated for independent living services, and the parents say no, our child’s doing very well in that area and we want you to focus on other more pressing unmet needs, then independent living services will not be in the IEP. Conversely, if a school tries to tell parents that teaching students important independent living skills isn’t the school’s responsibility, the Macy bill will ensure that parents can much more effectively challenge that denial of services and, just as importantly, ensure that a blind child who has additional disabilities is taught independent living skills in a way that is truly effective for students who are blind.

As someone who has been a life-long braille reader, I can tell you on a personal note that I would never tolerate any attempt to weaken the existing braille requirements. And I’ll also tell you that, professionally, I have been trying to respond to those in our field who are interested in finding some way to strengthen the braille requirements even more. One way I think that can happen might be to spell out in IDEA that the IEP Team can only make a determination to withhold braille with the parents’ consent.
Right now, IEP Teams make that determination as a group based on consensus but may make that determination in spite of the parents’ objections. Of course, if parents are upset at the denial of braille today, they can formally protest the decision using the procedures and remedies that IDEA provides already. So it seems to me that further restricting IEP Teams’
denial of braille to those situations in which parents concur might be a good way to further empower parents to protect their children’s right to braille. But this proposal hasn’t been written into H.R. 3535 because I know that other consumer advocates for blind kids are thinking through whether they like this approach or whether a different approach would be better or whether the existing law is sufficient.

So the bottom line for now is this– The Macy bill does nothing to the existing presumption for braille instruction and only makes it even more meaningful by ensuring that students who are blind who have additional disabilities nevertheless have their blindness-specific needs honored.
Additionally, the Macy bill empowers parents who want to be sure the fullest possible array of services are available for their children by spelling out exactly what those services are and unequivocally establishing that our kids have a right to these services. The Macy bill does not shove these additional services down students’ throats but rather gives parents clearer legal footholds to stand their ground more effectively for their children.

With that, let me close by thanking you for your advocacy. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, but with the unprecedented collaboration we’ve built with the blindness, deafness and deafblindness communities working together, we are positioning ourselves well to affect significant change. And please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly with any questions or ideas you may have.


Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
(202) 469-6833

Orientation and Mobility made easier

By Julie Adkins

If you are an independent traveler, or you like to have control over planning your route and finding places around you, I just can’t say enough good things about an app called BlindSquare.  Okay, it costs $30.00.  So, you may ask, why would I want to spend $30.00 on an app if my phone has a GPS app built in, and I can just ask Siri to give me directions wherever I want to go?  First of all, it finds many more places than your iPhone does. This is because behind the scenes it uses data that has been input by thousands of users of a very popular app called Four Square.

Secondly, the app makes it extremely easy to find places to go and things to do (these are called “Points of Interest” or POIs in GPS apps).  Everything is broken down into categories, like Food, Arts and Entertainment, Nightlife spots, Outdoors and Recreation, and Shop and Service, and then each category has a list of subcategories of things as specific as Afghan Food, or Falafel Restaurant (in Food), or Shoe Repair or ATMs (in Shop and Service).  You can just read through the list of places in each category to see what is available, or have it announce the places to you as you are walking or riding.

If you need directions, you can ask it to give you directions to your destination through the built in Maps app, Google maps, or several other popular navigation apps, such as Wav, TomTom, and Navigon. You can even order an Uber ride from right within the app.

If you are walking or riding and having BlindSquare announce Points

of Interest to you as you go, you can use a filter to narrow it down

to just the information you want to hear.  The example they give is

that you want to go shopping for clothes, but you don’t know which shops you want to visit.

You would ask BlindSquare to only tell you places in the Shop and

Service category as you are walking through the city (and of course then you could even narrow it down to one of the subcategories if you wish, like clothing store).  Or maybe have it only look for Food if you are looking for restaurants.  And, of course, you could just search for a specific place if you know exactly where you want to go, or have it search within a specific distance.  Easily save places to your Favorites so you can find them again quickly.  You can even

simulate a trip from a certain spot so you can find out in advance what will be around you when you go somewhere, preplan your routes for when you will be there, and so on.

You can ask Blind Square to tell you what points of interest

(including intersections) are around you within a certain radius, and you get to

choose the radius.  It even has a feature called Look Around that allows you to point your phone in a direction and find out what is located in that particular direction (again, you get to choose the distance).  Just shake the phone to exit this Look Around mode.  When you are walking, you can also just shake the phone to find out where you are.  You can even leave your ears open to listen to traffic and

other sounds in the environment by using bone conducting head phones. No, I didn’t realize there was such a thing, either.  Apparently they have been in use by walkers and joggers for quite some time.  There is a link within the BlindSquare app to find them on Amazon.  It appears they range from about $50 to $150, depending on their features, such as battery life and sound quality.  I would imagine you would want to be sure they are wireless (Bluetooth).

If you want to read about all the features Blindsquare has to offer

(yes, there are more!), you can find the help file on the internet at  Also check out this YouTube video of a blind person walking around by herself in a mall to see how it can work indoors with devices called iBeacons that transmit information about the person’s location as he or she walks by:  No, sorry, these iBeacons are not set up in your local mall. But this shows what is possible for independent travel in the future.  The video has dialogue in another language, so if you use a screen reader, be sure it is set to read captions.  There are other videos about BlindSquare on YouTube-just be sure they are in English.

If you want to try BlindSquare out without buying it, they have a demo version called Blindsquare Event that is free. You can’t use it to get around in your environment (it is not going to connect to any GPS apps), but it lets you try out its other features as if you are located in places like Times Square in New York or Big Ben in London. When the app opens, choose the option for Demo, and then choose the simulated location you want to explore.


Julie Adkins

Assistive Technology Trainer

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