Composing and Replying to Emails in Gmail using JAWS, NVDA or Chromevox

Image of man's hands typing. Selective focus

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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 22, 2022

We are continuing our journey through email and screen readers in the month of February and this week we are focusing on the task of sending an email. If you missed any of our content on setting up Gmail or checking your inbox and reading an email be sure to catch up on our Tech Tip Tuesday videos by visiting our Facebook Group AT for VI Professionals (linked).

Let’s get started sending an email. Now, remember if any of these key commands do not work for you, remember to switch your modes. All of the key commands in today’s email are Google specific.

Before we dive in, I want you to be on the lookout for a pattern that you see in these key commands. 

Composing an Email

Composing an email is super easy. You can do it from just about anywhere in the app. You can be in the inbox, sent folder, or an email conversation. All you have to do to compose an email in Gmail is press the “c” key, that is it. Now, remember, be on the lookout for this pattern. All of these key commands work the exact same way.

Compose an email – c (Google)

Replying and Forwarding

To reply to an email or forward it, you first need to be reading the email you’d like to reply to or forward, then use the key commands below.

Reply To – r (Google)

Reply All – a (Google)

Forward – f (Google)

Do you see the pattern?

Navigating the Composition Pane

Now, when you go to compose, reply to or forward an email, you will open the “composition pane”. Disclosure: This is not an official title, remember, it is important to have consistent language, so I made it up. Remember, if there is not an official name for something, you can make one up. It is ok, as long as your learner is learning what they need to learn.

Alt Text: Composition Pane

In the “composition pane” you’ll need to navigate between different edit fields. We have the “to” field, “subject” and “body”. To navigate between these, use the Tab key just like when you fill out an online form.

Side note: For those that have taken our Basic Internet Navigation course, you’ll know Tab as the key to Navigate by Clickable Object since all of these fields are “clickable” this is the most efficient way.

Now, what if you have to cc or bcc someone on the email? Well,

Add cc recipients: Ctrl + Shift + c (Google)

Add bcc recipients: Ctrl + Shift + b (Google)

Hmm, that’s a pretty similar pattern to what we saw before.

Switching Focus

Ok last thing before I leave you today… What if you are in your “composition pane” but you can’t remember the email address of the person you are supposed to send this email to?

Well you can Switch Focus to the Main Window that is the window with your inbox and email conversations and find the email address, and then Switch Focus to the Composition Pane to continue composing your email. 

Switch Focus to the Main Window: Shift + Esc. (Google)

Switch Focus to the Composition Pane: Esc. (Google)

If this is a hard skill to wrap your head around, see a demo in this week’s Tech Tip Tuesday (posted February 22nd) on our Facebook Page. Click the link below. 

Sending an Email

And finally, we will need to send what we have written. You can either navigate all the way to that “send” button with the Tab key or…

Send an email: Ctrl + Enter (Google)

Next week, we will be talking about tactics to Organize Your Inbox. Have a great week and don’t forget to teach those patterns!

take a look at some

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