Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Module 1: Getting Started Using Google Docs and Drive with NVDA

Read the Video Transcription (Note: this link will open in a new window.)

Download this tutorial as an MP3 audio file

Skip to the written instructions that accompany this video.




Google Docs is an online word processor that lets you create and format text documents and collaborate with other people in real time. Here's what you can do with Google Docs:

  • Upload a Microsoft Word document and convert it to a Google document.
  • Add flair and formatting to your documents by adjusting margins, spacing, fonts, and colors.
  • Invite other people to collaborate on a document with you, giving them edit, comment or view access.
  • Collaborate online in real time and chat with other collaborators—right from inside the document.
  • View your document's revision history and roll back to any previous version.
  • Download a Google document to your desktop as a Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip file.
  • Translate a document to a different language.
  • Email your documents to other people as attachments.

Google Docs can be found at: http://docs.google.com

Google Drive lets you store, access, and edit your files anywhere—on the web, on your hard drive, or on the go. Here are some of the ways that you can use Google Drive on the web with a screen reader:

  • Download, upload, create, store, and edit files.
  • Share files and folders with family, friends, classmates, or colleagues.
  • Organize files into folders.
  • Store files so that you can get to them from any device.

Google Drive can be found at: http://drive.google.com.

The accessibility of Google Docs and Google Drive continues to increase along with frequent enhancements to the NVDA screen reader, web browser technologies, and the applications themselves. Currently the free NVDA screen reader and the Mozilla Firefox web browser used in combination provides the greatest accessibility support.

1.1 NVDA screen reader

The free open-source screen reader NVDA (Non-visual Desktop Access) provides the greatest compatibility with Google’s online productivity apps such as Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive. It is recommended that the latest version of NVDA is used as enhancements are being made frequently to the screen reader and are available as automaticly downloaded software updates. NVDA is available as a free download from the NV Access web site:

http://www.nvaccess.org

AFB Tech has also produced a comprehensive tutorial covering the installation and use of NVDA:
AFB's Learn NVDA Tutorial

1.2 Firefox web browser

The Mozilla Firefox web browser is recommended in combination with NVDA for the best compatibility with the accessibility features of the Google online suite of apps. Mozilla offers Firefox as a free download from the following web site:

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/?utm_source=getfirefox-com&utm_medium=referral

1.3 Enabling screen reader support in Google Drive and Docs

Follow these steps to adjust your NVDA settings:

  • Go to Google Docs and open a document.
  • Listen for these words: "Screen reader support enabled." If you don't hear this feedback, press Control + Alt + Z to turn on screen reader support. You should hear "Screen reader support enabled."
  • Press NVDA + Control + K to open the keyboard settings, then disable "Speak typed characters" and "Speak typed words."
  • Consider changing or removing your NVDA startup keyboard shortcut so that it doesn't conflict with the Docs editors. The default NVDA keyboard shortcut, Control + Alt + N, is commonly used in the Docs editors; for example, Control + Alt + N then G navigates to the next image in a document. To change your NVDA keyboard shortcut:
    • Open Properties from the NVDA shortcut.
    • On the Shortcut tab, update the Shortcut key field with a shortcut that doesn't conflict with the Docs editors, such as Control + Alt + \.

services icon Directory of Services

Support Our Work

Your support fuels AFB's work to make technology—from everyday electronics to life-saving devices—accessible for everyone.