When Chrome 56 was released in January 2017, people were excited with the new features, including:
- Faster page loading
- HTML 5 by default (disabling the Adobe Flash player)
- Notification warning for non-secure websites
- Ability for web apps to communicate with nearby Bluetooth devices
One of the new features I think many people may have overlooked in Chrome 56 was the new ChromeVox screen reader.
Called ChromeVox Next to distinguish it from the prior version (now called ChromeVox Classic), the new version is a rebuild from the ground up.
And it’s the default screen reader for all Chromebooks.
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know I’m a Chromebook fan. I’ve used a Chromebook for the past four years, and I love it!
When I’m traveling or attending meetups, it’s the perfect device for me:
- Easy to use
- HDMI/USB ports
- Access to all the cloud-based services I use
But the original ChromeVox screen reader wasn’t the easiest application to use.
The multiple keys needed for ChromeVox commands and the constant crashing of the app made me think twice about turning the screen reader on.
When I heard Chrome 56 was releasing a new default screen reader, improved with easier modifier keys, jump keys, menus, I was delighted!
Now that I’ve used it for a few weeks, I can tell you it’s definitely a more usable and user-friendly application than the previous version.
Don’t take my word for it!
Watch the three videos to learn about the improvements and features in ChromeVox Next and how to use it on the ChromeBook. Check out my key takeaways.
Key Takeaways from the Videos
- Turn on (and off) ChromeVox Next by holding down the CTRL + ALT keys and pressing the Z key
- The search key on the Chromebook keyboard is the ChromeVox modifier key (often called ChromeVox in the commands). It’s used in combination with other keys to help you navigate pages.
- In Learn Mode (press ChromeVox + O + K), you can hear the name of each key you press (or if you’re pressing multiple keys for a command, you’ll hear the command name)
- Close a browser tab using CTRL + W
- Temporarily silence speech by pressing CTRL
- You can navigate a page linearly, using jump commands, or with ChromeVox menus
- Access the new ChromeVox menus feature using ChromeVox + . (period)
- If you enable Sticky Mode (double-tap the search key quickly), you don’t have to use the search key for your commands (turn Sticky Mode off by double-tapping the search key quickly)
If you use ChromeVox Next, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new screen reader features.