GTT National Conference Call.
Sponsored by the Canadian Council of the Blind
January 11, 2017
Web browsing with screen readers.
Many people just use their arrow keys to browse the web. This can be good for exploring a page initially, but it is slow and there are many more efficient ways of browsing the web more quickly and easily.
The best web browsers for PC are: google chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or the last version of internet explorer. The Edge Browser is becoming more accessible with Narrator, and to some degree with NVDA.
There are some slight differences with key commands between NVDA, jaws, window eyes and system access which all work well for browsing the web. Please check your screen reader help section for these.
When you do a google search, be as specific as you can with your search terms. Example: look for mystery books by a certain author on amazon. The more specific you are, the easier you can get to the web site you need.
To go directly to the address field to type in the web site name or your search press Alt D. Alt is the key just to the left of your space bar. This works on all screen readers and in all of the different PC browsers.
You can move around on your web site by headings, lists, buttons and much more. These commands vary by screen reader so check your screen reader manual for the short cut keys.
NVDA and jaws have a great command called insert f7 The insert key is the big key on the bottom left of the number pad and f7 is in the top row of keys on your PC.
For NVDA this is called the elements list. It lists anything on the page that you can click on. The great thing about this is that you can press the first letter of the link you need to find and you can get to it more quickly.
For JAWS users there is also an insert f 6 command to list the headings on a page, email message or MS Word document.
For the mac computer, the accessible web browsers are safari and google chrome.
To get into the address bar/search field on the mac, type command l. Command is the key just to the left of the space bar where the ALT key is on the PC.
The mac has what is called a web rotor which is a little like the insert f 7.
To get to this, press VO command which is control and option keys plus u. You can right arrow then through the various options like links, headings, buttons, ETC and arrow down to go through each category.
The mac also has first letter navigation. This is also true on the PC. You can press h for headings, v for visited links, l for links ETC on the mac.
Some of the commands are different for different screen readers but they all have first letter navigation commands.
Remember that in addition to using the letter H to navigate Headers you can press the numbers 1-6 above your letters on the keyboard to go to heading level 1 2 3 ETC. This is the case for all major screen readers on the PC or mac.
The mac and the iPhone also have a very useful button which is in the top left hand corner of the screen for I devices and one of the first things you come across when a web page loads on the mac. It is called the reader button. Firefox also has a Reader function that is accessed by holding down Shift and Control while typing the letter R.
It is not always available but when it is, it is most useful. If you double tap that button, it jumps you right to the main content on your screen, (say the contents of an article for example).
Browsing the web on an I device can also be fast and easy.
If you use voiceover, go to settings, general, accessibility, voiceover, and then to rotor. Here you can check and uncheck what you want in your rotor which is like a menu of common settings you use. You can include many web browsing navigation elements such as: Headings, links, search fields, visited links, buttons, and much more.
When on a web page, you can turn your rotor with a gesture like a radio dial to move between these elements. You can also navigate your rotor by using the up and left arrow and up and right arrows together on your Bluetooth keyboard or space with dots 23 and space with dots 56 on your braille display.
Once you are on the element you want, swipe down with one finger to go to the next heading and up with one finger to go to the previous one. Up or down arrows on the Bluetooth keyboard do this as well. So do dots 3 with space bar or dot 6 with space bar on a braille display.
GTT Program Overview
• GTT was founded in Ottawa by Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman in 2011.
• Many GTT Groups are chapters of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
• GTT Groups/Chapters promote a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
• Each meeting will present a feature technology topic and general question and answer about any other technology.
• Small groups or one on one assistance is possible at the meetings.
• Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
• There are GTT groups in Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Northern Ontario, Pembroke, Halifax, Sydney, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, and more to come.
• There is also a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:
There is a “Follow” Link at the bottom of that web page to enter your email in order to register.
Respectfully submitted by Kim Kilpatrick and Albert Ruel