Google announced a new version of Chromevox, called ChromeVox Next. The older version of ChromeVox, now called ChromeVox Classic, remains for those who do not wish to make the switch to the new version. Some of the changes are so simplistic, you might wonder why they weren’t part of the original screen reader. For example; the modifier key is now search, instead of shift+search. The new version seems to be in line with current standards, and I recommend giving it a try. Here are a few details from the developer, along with a very helpful video.
The New ChromeVox Screen Reader for Chrome OS
We’ve made big changes to the Chrome OS screen reader known as “ChromeVox.” ChromeVox comes built-in with every Chromebook, and These changes are the result of important feedback from our ChromeVox users (and other lessons learned over the years). For now, the older version, now called “ChromeVox Classic” (“Classic” for short), will still be available, but because we’re so sure you’ll like this new experience, it won’t be for too long.
• The ChromeVox modifier key combo is now just the Search key .
• Easier jump commands, like pressing Search+H to jump to the next heading or Shift+Search+H to move back.
• Sticky keys work across the entire Chrome OS screen, including the shelf and status tray.
• Other commands also work everywhere, like Jump commands and ‘find in page’.
• A new caption panel displays speech and Braille output at the top of the screen.
• New menus list all the ChromeVox keyboard commands. (Press Search + Period.)
• New sounds (‘earcons’) identify key parts of the screen, page load progress, and more.
accessibility features for your Chromebook.
Switching to ChromeVox Classic on Chrome OS
• Start by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Z.
• To switch to ChromeVox Classic, press Search + Q.
• To switch back to the new version, press Shift+Search+Q, then Q.
ChromeVox announces which version you’re using and what currently has focus. You might also be able to tell because the earcons (sound effects) are different.
Why we did this
The Classic version of ChromeVox worked partly by running inside every web page you visit. ChromeVox could easily interact with web pages and faithfully convert the full web experience into speech and braille. But this design also had many challenges, like accessing some controls and working the same way when you weren’t in a web page. ChromeVox now runs separately and interacts with the entire screen so ChromeVox can deliver a consistent, fast experience no matter what you’re doing. ChromeVox works identically to other screen readers and assistive technology on other platforms. Chrome increasingly supports ARIA and other web standards, so that you get the same accessibility experience on all platforms whether using ChromeVox or any other tool.