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: http://www.GTTProgram.WordPress.com/
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
The Albert A. Ruel Road to Blindness
A 21 year old man stood on the beach at the Sproat Lake Provincial Park with friends early in May of 1977, and upon gazing across the lake found the Gulf Oil sign missing from the dock-side filling station there. When this fact was shared with his companions they glanced at him with puzzled looks and said, “No Albert, the sign is still there”.
That was the beginning of a road through confusion, anger, isolation, loneliness and discovery for me. It all began with a visit to a local Optometrist who could see that my vision wasn’t right, but that corrective lenses wouldn’t help. He then referred me to a General Practitioner, where I received a clean bill of health and an additional referral. This time to an Ophthalmologist. Immediately upon peering through the dilated pupils, Dr. McKerricher was able to see the problem, Retinal Vasculitis.
Now, you would think that all would start to improve at this point, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, CNIB, from 1918 until 1985 only served the needs of people who were “Legally Blind”, a level of vision loss I wouldn’t reach until November of 1979. The words of Dr. McKerricher still echo in my mind today, “Albert, I don’t know what has caused this and nothing we’ve tried is helping to stop it, and you’re not blind enough for me to refer you to CNIB”!
In the middle of this transition from 20/20 vision to “Legally Blind” came the Motor Vehicle Branch and it’s rules of the road. On August 3, 1978 I drove a car for the last time as my vision had reached the level at which operating a motor vehicle became too dangerous, further intensifying feelings of fear, isolation and anger. Sadly, through this period the only available guidance and support was through family and friends, but not the experienced professionals I needed at the time. Although these support systems are critically important they can often be smothering and facilitating, rather than encouraging and supportive.
With gratitude, and some trepidation I finally was able to access CNIB services in November of 1979, and the world opened up then. There I was able to meet other blind people and receive the daily living and mobility skills required to live independently in this sighted world. I learned elementary braille and began to discover technology as necessary tools of independence.
Thankfully, in 1985 CNIB’s National Board altered the course of service to visually impaired Canadians forever. They added a third prong to their Mission Statement, “To promote sight enhancement services”. This opened the door to all Canadians who were beginning to lose sight, as well as those who had a fear of vision loss to access the full range of CNIB Support and Rehabilitation Services. So now, whether it’s someone’s Mother who is experiencing Macular Degeneration, or an Uncle experiencing the affects of Glaucoma, all have the ability to seek information, guidance and support as all involved deal with the fear and anxiety that accompanies such life altering experiences.
With the help of professional Rehabilitation Workers and Employment Counselors I was able to continue traveling independently within my own community, and even more remarkably anywhere in the world I desired to go. I managed to attend College in Nanaimo and New Westminster, as well as traveling to the Mayo Clinic and to doctor’s appointments in Nanaimo and Vancouver without assistance. All of this while living with some usable vision, but not yet needing a white cane for travel.
During the mid 1980’s I was a stay-at-home Dad and did all that was required of that challenging work, from changing diapers to preparing meals, and from cutting the grass to maintaining our home. I even took a woodworking course through Alberni’s Adult Education program and built and restored several pieces of furniture. Of course the 1958 Chevy Impala in the garage was my pride and joy, and I devised ways to do much of the work it required.
I also joined and participated in many community activities, like the local Car Club, and a disability support group that catered to the needs of people with many different disabilities. Of course, continued participation in family life remained of critical importance through this period.
In 1989 a secondary condition began to extinguish the vision that remained, which set into motion a new stream of professional rehabilitation services and supports. By the spring of 1990 Glaucoma had turned out the lights completely, and the darkness I had feared so desperately was upon me. Strangely though, I found this to be a great relief rather than the tragedy I had imagined it would be.
Through several professional rehabilitation sessions, and by joining peer mentoring and advocacy groups I was able to come to terms with this strange feeling, and to learn additional skills and strategies for living with no visual cues of the world around me. This is also about the time that I decided to explore CNIB as an employer, and to see if I could provide the sort of guidance and support to others that had been my pleasure to receive. Those 14 years were a wonderful experience of ongoing discovery for me, as teaching may be the best way to solidify one’s own learning. In other words, those we assist through this transition in turn help us all as we develop best practices and improved service.
Following a 14 year career with CNIB I also served the blind community as the first National Equality Director employed by the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), and as a Basic Computer Literacy Trainer with the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). Most recently I have enjoyed coordinating the CCB’s newly launched Get Together with Technology Program in Western Canada, which brings to the fore my passion for assistive technology and the power of peer mentoring.
Without sight I have continued to travel far and wide, with trips to Conventions of and for the Blind in Anaheim California and Melbourne Australia, as well as to many events and activities in Toronto and Vancouver. Of course my work has taken me to many communities throughout Western Canada, and most particularly nearly all regions of BC and on Vancouver Island. None of which would have been possible without the services and support of organizations like CCB, AEBC and CNIB.
For most people blindness generates a fear of extended movement, both within one’s home and community, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Independence comes from personal desire and increased skill. Many community organizations can assist with both through their mentoring and skill development programs. I remember always that life has little to do with what happens to me and 100% what I do about/with it. There is a quote I like to use from the National Federation of the Blind in the USA, “With adequate skill development and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance”, and nothing could be closer to the truth.
Helen Keller said many years ago, “There is nothing more tragic than someone who has sight, but no vision”. She also challenged the Lions Clubs of the world to become the “Knights of the Blind, and to take up the crusade against darkness”. I too joined a Lions Club in 1992 and continue to work on the crusade that Helen Keller began in the 1920-s.
View all posts by Albert Ruel