Internet Browsing for the visually impaired – ChromeVox

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Wondering how a visually impaired person would browse the Internet? Well, now that ChromeVox has arrived, visually challenged individuals will have very little to worry about how to enjoy Internet browsing. ChromeVox is the “voice” of the Chrome Browser specially developed for these people. But of course, if they like to try it out, normal individuals without visual imparity can also use it.

ChromeVox is a browser extension available at the Chrome Web Store. It is currently available for Windows, Mac and also natively installed in Chrome OS. With the purpose of “Giving voice to Chrome”, It’s not just a narrator. It’s a full-featured sound enabled version of Chrome. ChromeVox gives you complete control of what is to be read aloud and how to navigate through the various page contents. ChromeVox uses the default OS specific screen reader to speak the contents of a webpage in Chrome. It automatically takes over when you use the Chrome Browser. It plays audio sounds to indicate actions such as tab opening and closing, page load progress, etc.

You can also control ChromeVox to narrate a particular section of a webpage, move between various sections or even skip some of the unnecessary sections. Additionally, you can “zoom” on the contents at specific levels (Character < Word < Sentence < Object < Group < Visual). The keyboard shortcuts come in handy when navigating through web page contents, and you can perform every reading operation on your browser by just using the keyboard. The keyboard shortcuts control how you want to read aloud a web page.  The Ctrl and Alt keys are together known as the “ChromeVox Keys”. Every keyboard shortcut precedes this key combination. But once you use these keys for a particular operation, it automatically stays activated until you reload the page or browse to another page. This means you need not press the ChromeVox keys for any of the successive reading operations you perform on that page. For security and other reasons, ChromeVox does not narrate when you browse the Chrome Web Store. If you require narration on the Web Store, you can use other narrators and screen readers.

Steps to enable ChromeVox

For Windows and Mac users

Go to the Chrome Web Store to download and install the ChromeVox Extension. Once it is installed, you should hear a sound to indicate that ChromeVox has been activated. You can now activate or deactivate ChromeVox anytime by using the key combination Ctrl + Alt + AA. You can also disable it by clicking on the Chrome Menu (top-right corner of the browser) >> Tools >> Extensions and unchecking the Enabled option next to the ChromeVox Extension among the list of other installed extensions. For Google Chrome OS users Follow the instructions on Enabling ChromeVox on Chrome OS. Ready to explore ChromeVox? Try your hands-on with this Interactive Tutorial. You may also want to go through the quick-starters’ guide to ChromeVox navigation. Also see the full list of available keyboard shortcuts.

Add ChromeVox to Chrome

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