Creating Tables in Google Docs with a Screen Reader

Macbook air with image of Google Docs logo on the screen.

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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Published on

February 6, 2023

You know, as you dive into screen reader skills, you begin to see tons of similarities: between screen readers (JAWS and NVDA key commands are almost identical), between operating systems (Chromebooks and Windows PC’s) and between programs (Microsoft Word and Google Docs)… so many similarities.

About a month ago, we covered Creating Tables in Microsoft Word. This is a really tough skill. The concepts of tables throw many students and instructors for a loop. But do you know what makes it easier? The key commands in Microsoft Word and Google Docs are almost exactly the same!

Today… Creating Tables with a screen reader in Google Docs (Side note: much of the information below is copied directly from that video on Microsoft Word.

Oh! And also, this process is exactly the same for JAWS, NVDA and Chromevox.

Before we even talk about how to create a table, let’s first discuss how to approach this topic in a meaningful way. Remember, learning a skill for a reason is always more motivating than learning it just to learn it.
First: What are you organizing?
That is the question you need to answer before you start teaching. You can either look for something in your learner’s classes that needs to be organized into a table, or you can take one of our suggestions below. Either way, choosing a task or a “challenge” will help you to create that buy-in before starting, especially since this will definitely be a bit challenging.

Potential Tasks to choose from:
Create your daily schedule
Conduct a poll of teachers asking what is their favorite ice cream flavor or similar
Start a “braille reading log” recording the date, number of minutes read and a summary
Create a “key command cheat sheet” with challenging key commands. One column could be the function and the next could be the key command.
Second: What are rows and columns?
Once you have chosen your task, do not forget to review with your learner what tables actually are. Remember they have rows which are horizontal and are stacked on top of each other, and they have columns which are vertical and standing next to each other.

Your learner should be pretty comfortable with this concept before starting to create tables. If they are not, check out our video on reading tables before you continue.
Step 1: Jump to the “Insert” Menu

This one is easy:

Jump to the “Insert” Menu: Alt + I (for insert)

Why is it Alt + I? Well, check out our video on using Alt to access menus.
Step 2: Go to “Table”
Another easy one. It’s a menu, so… down arrow key.
Step 3: Move Down for Rows
At this point, you’ll see a dialog box pop up asking you how large you want your table to be. Let’s start with telling Word how many rows our table will be.

Remember, rows are stacked on top of each other so if we want to add more rows, we will move in which direction? …yeah that’s right, we will move down those stacked rows, so down arrow key. Now, the dialog should already have one row so count your rows starting at 2.

Add a row: Down Arrow Key
Step 4: Move Over for Columns
We now need to add our columns. This is the same idea EXCEPT, our columns are not stacked, they are standing next to each other. So, which direction will we move to add more columns? …yup we will move to the right…right arrow key.

Add a column: Right Arrow Key.

Once you have all of your rows and columns added, press enter…and you are done!

As always, click the button below to see this skill demonstrated on video.. Oh! and one more request…

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