Getting Started with Google Chrome and NVDA

a laptop computer shows a process of browsing application and multimedia content on internet. Mixed media 3d render and photo.

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

January 25, 2022

We are well on our way out of January, and with that, have tons of new things to try with our students who are just beginning to use a screen reader. Today, we will talk about how to get started with Google Chrome and with that, give you 5 skills to teach them when first accessing the internet.

Why Start With the Internet

At this point, Some people may say, “Wait, my learner just started with a screen reader. We are NOT ready for the internet!”

And my answer, “Why not?” Yes, the internet is a scary place where things are not accessible and yes, things will go wrong, but I promise you, if you start out slow, why not start with the internet? The benefit of starting to access the internet is that EVERYTHING is on the internet. That means that you can find something that is meaningful to your learner. Whether it is doing classwork or accessing youtube, I promise, it will be much more exciting than going onto Typability. (No offense typability). Main point: Let’s throw them in and support them when things go wrong, and yes, things will fall apart at some point and that is ok. That is all part of technology instruction.

Ok so let’s talk about our 5 skills to teach our students when they start using the internet.

  1. How to Open Application

Google Chrome is an Application or a Program for us older folk. Remember that and make sure to make that very explicit to your learner. There are tons of ways to open applications, but I always teach one way and that is the way that works for ALL applications. 

  1. Press the Windows key to open the Start Menu
  2. Begin typing the application you want to open.
  3. When you hear NVDA say the right application, press enter to select.

This skill is not just for the internet but is one of the first skills your learner should be learning. It gives them access to every application on the entire computer.

  1. Get to the Correct Profile

Recently, Google Chrome created a welcome screen in which before accessing chrome on a PC you must first choose which profile you want to access chrome with. This is great for most people because it makes sure that we are logged in correctly and that all of our stuff is saved in the right place, but for our screen reader users, the initial shock of “Oh my gosh there is a brand new screen”, was a bit of a nightmare. Either way, let’s teach our learners how to access this. It is pretty easy.

  1. Press Tab to scroll through the available profiles (your learner may only have one)
  2. When you hear the correct profile, press Enter to select.

I told you it was easy.

  1. Go to your Internet Home

What in the world is my internet home? Well, it’s the place that will always be there when you get lost. It is the address bar! Remember, the address bar is that edit field at the top of the screen where you can type a link or perform a google search.

It is important for your learner to know that no matter how lost they get, they can perform one key command and go straight to the address bar to start over. For this reason, we call it your internet home. It is where you start, and it’s where you go to feel safe.

To go to the address bar, the key command is Ctrl + L.

  1. Go to Bookmarks

As you are getting started teaching your learner to use the internet, it may be helpful to make some bookmarks for them to access some commonly used sites. For example, if their classroom uses Canvas, you might want to bookmark Canvas so that they can hop right up and jump onto canvas without remembering any links or logins. This is a great way to get your learnr doing multiple things on the computer right away, but what that means is that we need them to know how to jump up to that bookmarks bar.

To jump up to the bookmarks bar is Alt + Shift + B.

To navigate through bookmarks use Tab.

If you pass the correct bookmark and want to back up, Shift + Tab

  1. Switch Tab Focus

So, your learner is on the internet with NVDA, before long, they will be in a situation in which they need multiple tabs open. Either they have an article open and a google doc to take notes, or maybe, Google Classroom is open in one tab and an assignment sheet is open in another. Well, in these situations, they will need to know how to switch tabs. 

To switch between tabs, Ctrl + Tab

These are definitely not the only skills your learner will need as they navigate through the internet, but these are definitely some of the first things that they will need to learn.

If you are interested in this topic, you probably will be interested in our Three Methods of Basic Internet Navigation. These three methods will allow you to access 99% of accessible content on the internet with any screen reader (that’s right, this doesn’t just work with NVDA). 

If you are interested in learning more about the three methods, use the button below to check out our Basic Internet Navigation course. This course is asynchronous and has both student and teacher editions where you will not only learn how to access the internet using a screen reader but also how to write IEP goals and objectives on screen reader instruction, which screen reader to pick and also some fun practice activities to do with your students.

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