The Chrome OS running on Chromebooks has lots of Accessibility options for people with disabilities. This week in the United States, we’re celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act. Even if you don’t need these features on a daily basis, they’re handy for specialized use for everyone.
Enabling Accessibility Options And The Accessibility Menu
The easiest way to access these settings is typing in the Chrome browser chrome://settings. That takes you directly to settings. If you prefer the mouse, click on the hamburger menu in the upper right-hand corner of your browser and pick Settings. Scroll down and click Show advanced settings…
Under Advanced Settings is Accessibility. The first option I recommend you enable is Show accessibility options in the system menu. That lets you change the settings by clicking on your profile pic in the lower right-hand corner.
Show Large Mouse Cursor
This option makes your cursor much larger, without changing the rest of the screen. If you’re doing a presentation and can’t find your cursor, this feature is a lifesaver. I also like to set it when doing a demo or a screencast so people can know where I click.
Chromevox – Spoken Feedback
The screenreader is Google’s version of JAWS. Once you enable it, you’ll hear the computer speaking what’s on the screen at a very fast pace. You can toggle this on and off with Ctrl + Alt + Z. It takes some getting used to, but it’s handy for getting through something that’s tl;dr.
The primary purpose of this feature is to make the screen easier to read for people with visual impairments. An average sighted person may not need this during the day, but it makes the screen easier on the eyes at night. I know that brightness is harsh on my eyes at night.
Like the High Contrast feature, this makes the entire screen bigger so it’s easier to read. You can toggle this features with Ctrl + Alt and the brightness up or down key. When I don’t have my glasses, this makes my Chromebook readable. I also use this on presentations to focus on a particular option.
An on-screen keyboard lets you enter text without using the keyboard. That’s handy if you have a sticky key, but the hidden feature here is speech-to-text. Click on the microphone icon and your Chromebook will take dictation. It isn’t perfect but it does a pretty good job.
Instead of clicking on a link, automatic click will follow a link if you leave your cursor near it. This feature is great when you’re having trouble using your trackpad in a cramped space.
Some Handy Google Written Accessibility Extensions
The Accessibility options are built into every Chromebook (even in Guest Mode), but sometimes you may want a bit more control. Google has a section of special extensions designed for further control. Like the other options, these aren’t just for people with disabilities.
The built-in options give you an all-or-none approach: all the colors on your Chromebook inverse. The High Contrast Extension lets you set the colors on a page-by-page basis. Instead of just inverting the colors, this extension gives you a few more options including setting it to grayscale.
Image Alt Text Viewer
For those people using screen-readers, this disables the pictures on the web page and speaks the alternate text. I set the Image Alt Text Viewer extension anytime I’m on a slow internet connection so the page loads faster.
Try It, You May Like It
I recommend enabling the Accessibility options. They’re handy tools for using your Chromebook and perfect for times when you need a little more control over the device.