How to Enable and Use Chromebook Accessibility Features

Set up the Chrome OS accessibility settings

Google provides several accessibility features in the Chrome operating system, ranging from spoken audio feedback to a screen magnifier. Most of these features are disabled by default and must be toggled on to be used.

Set Up Accessibility Settings on a Chromebook

This tutorial explains each accessibility option, walks you through the process of enabling them, and shows you how to install additional features.

  1. Click the clock in the lower-right corner of the screen.

    The hub on a Chromebook
  2. Select Settings.

    The Settings icon on a Chromebook
  3. Scroll down and click Advanced to expand the Settings menu.

    Advanced in Chromebook settings
  4. Scroll down to Accessibility and click Manage accessibility features.

    The "Manage Accessibility Features" option in Chromebook settings
  5. You'll enter a screen with several options you can switch on or off. Read on to see quick descriptions of each option.

    Accessibility features on a Chromebook

Text-to-Speech

The Text-to-Speech section contains three options for visually impaired users that speak text on the screen. These are:

  • Enable ChromeVox: An integrated screen reader built on open-source web technologies. ChromeVox makes it easier for visually impaired users to browse website content using audio feedback.
  • Enable select-to-speak: Highlight text on the screen, and the Chromebook reads it aloud to you.
  • Text-to-Speech voice settings: Set the rate, pitch, and volume of the reading voice, as well as the languages and speech engines the Chromebook uses.
Text-to-speech options in Chromebook settings

Display

The Display settings provide options to make the screen easier to see and read.

  • Use high contrast mode: The color scheme of the Chromebook is inverted, making text and other items easier to read.
  • Enable fullscreen magnifier: When toggled on, items on the Chromebook screen are enlarged.
  • Enable docked magnifier: This option splits the screen. The lower portion shows windows at regular size, and the upper section shows a magnified version.
  • Open display device settings: Customize items like screen resolution and orientation. You can also use the Night Light feature to decrease the blue light coming off of the screen.
  • Open appearance settings: Make the default text size larger and easier to read.
Display settings in ChromeOS

Keyboard and Text Input

This heading contains options that make typing easier.

  • Enable sticky keys: Sticky keys provide the ability to use keyboard shortcuts by pressing each key sequentially, as opposed to all at the same time. For example, to type a capital letter, you normally press and hold the Shift key and the letter simultaneously. With sticky keys enabled, first press the Shift key and then the desired letter.
  • Enable on-screen keyboard: When toggled on, a keyboard icon is added to the Chromebook's status bar, located at the bottom of the screen. Selecting the icon displays a fully functional on-screen keyboard on the screen's bottom half.
  • Enable dictation: Skip the keyboard and say what you want to type. The Chromebook enters the text for you.
  • Highlight the object with keyboard focus when it changes: Turn on this feature to put an outline around objects you can type into when you click the object.
  • Highlight the text caret when it appears or moves: Turn on this option to make the text cursor (the blinking vertical line) more visible. As you type, a blue circle appears around the caret.
  • Open keyboard device settings: Access to more keyboard options, including how long you must hold a key before it repeats and customizable shortcuts.
Keyboard and text input settings in Chrome OS

Mouse and Touchpad

This section lets you make the mouse or touchpad responsive or easier to use.

  • Automatically click when the mouse pointer stops: When enabled, a single left-click of the mouse is simulated each time the mouse pointer ceases to move. Use the drop-down menu to specify the time interval between the mouse pointer stopping and the click taking place. It is broken down into the following durations: extremely short, very short (default), short, long, and very long.
  • Show large mouse cursor: When enabled, the Chromebook's mouse cursor appears several times larger than its default size.
  • Highlight the mouse cursor when it's moving: A red circle appears around the pointer, making it easier to see and follow.
  • Open mouse and touchpad settings: Set the tracking speed and control how the mouse and touchpad behave.
Mouse and touchpad settings on a Chromebook

Audio and Captions

In this section, you can add on-screen text and sound cues.

  • Captions: Set the size, font, and color of captions when they appear on videos you watch.
  • Play the same audio through all speakers: Turns on mono audio mode.
  • Play sound on startup: Alerts you with an alert noise when you turn on the computer.
  • Add additional features: Takes you to the Chrome Web Store to find more extensions.
Audio and captions settings on a Chromebook

Chrome Accessibility Plug-ins and Extensions

There's a link at the top of the Accessibility section labeled Add additional accessibility features. Select this link to go to the accessibility section of the Chrome Web Store, where you can install the following apps and extensions:

  • Long Descriptions in Context Menu: longdesc or aria-describedat attributes, sometimes associated with images on a web page, contain long-form descriptions of the images. Often used by screen readers, these descriptions offer details of what the image represents or depicts. This browser extension makes the descriptive text available in Chrome's context menu.
  • Caret Browsing: Navigate web page text with the arrow keys, similar to a text editor or word processor. Caret Browsing also lets you move the cursor one word at a time and select blocks of text using keyboard shortcuts.
  • Image Alt Text Viewer: Alt text associated with an image usually contains a title or short description of the image. Alt text is used for accessibility and SEO purposes. With Image Alt Text Viewer, images on a web page can be automatically replaced with their related alt text using a single mouse click.
  • High Contrast: This extension assists when the text on a website is hard to decipher due to the page's font or background colors. Choose from several high contrast filters, toggled on and off by a designated keyboard shortcut.
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