Beginning Gmail with JAWS, NVDA or Chromevox

Laptop computer displaying logo of Gmail, a free email service developed by Google

Don’t want to read?

Written By Cody Laplante

Cody M. Laplante is a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments located in the capital region of the United States. With a Master’s Degree and Graduate Certificate in Assistive Technology, Cody founded eye.t to provide live and asynchronous training options to children, adults, professionals and parents to ensure that all people with visual impairments can have access to a computer.

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February 8, 2022

Wow, we are already one month into 2022. We hope that you are starting to wrap your head around how to navigate and use screen readers like NVDA or JAWS. 

As we move into February, our team has been thinking about what might be your next step as you navigate the world of learning and teaching screen readers. And then we thought about how many times a day we check our email…like you are doing right now. 

Email is such an important part of our everyday lives these days that it should be close to the top of your list when learning or teaching a learner how to use a screen reader.

This month, that’s our topic…email, specifically, Gmail because it is so easy to set up and is pretty easy to use.

This week, we are going to review an email we sent out a couple months ago about getting started with Gmail. As we go through the month of February we’ll begin to dive deeper, covering tasks like how to read an email, how to reply and compose an email, and even, how to organize your inbox.

Here is a quick schedule of which emails we are sending when in the month of February.

Week 1 – Setting up Gmail

Week 2 – Reading Emails

Week 3 – Composing and Replying

Week 4 – Organizing Your Inbox

Remember, this content is only available in these Screen reader Tidbits emails so stay tuned, and tell your friends!

If you are really interested in this topic, catch us Next Wednesday Feb. 9th 4-5pm EST for an eye.t Live episode all about email. Remember that is live so come with your email questions!

Alright now, let’s get started with Gmail!

Before You Start: Understanding Your Modes

It is important to remember that when you are using a Google Product, there are two types of commands:

  1. HTML Commands (you may be familiar with these from our Basic Internet Navigation Courses.
  2. Special Google key commands

It is important to know which is which because some commands require you to switch modes. 

WAIT! Don’t run away yet! It is easier than you think. 

When we are switching modes, we are telling the screen reader which set of key commands we are using, HTML or Google. See below to learn how to switch modes with NVDA and JAWS.

NVDA: Modes 

Key Command: NVDA+Space (remember the NVDA key is CapsLock or Insert depending on your keyboard layout). 

Browse Mode = HTML Commands, Focus Mode = Google Commands

JAWS: The PC Cursor

In JAWS we don’t call this switching modes, we call it turning on and off the PC cursor. 

Key Command: JAWS + Z (remember the JAWS key is CapsLock or insert depending on your keyboard layout)

PC Cursor On = HTML commands, PC Cursor Off = Google Commands

Turn On Keyboard Shortcuts

Before we begin, it is important to know that in order to USE those special Google shortcuts, we need to turn ON keyboard shortcuts in the Gmail Settings.

  1. Open Gmail
  2. Navigate to the Settings Menu (Tab)
  3. Navigate to “See All Settings” (Tab)
  4. In the “Keyboard Shortcuts” section, ensure “keyboard shortcuts” are “on”.

Now, our gmail account is ready to begin typing out those emails. Stay tuned next week when we will show you how to read emails in your inbox using a screen reader.

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