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Accessibility Testing

How to use the ChromeVox Screen Reader for Accessibility Testing?

Get introduced to ChromeVox Screen Reader and its various keyboard shortcut keys that will come in handy for your web accessibility testing.

How to use the ChromeVox Screen Reader for Accessibility Testing - Blog
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ChromeVox is an in-built screen reader developed by Google for Chromebooks. It can also be added to Chrome as an extension even if it is running on Windows or macOS. Since Windows and macOS have their own dedicated screen readers like Narrator and VoiceOver, you might not have the need to use ChromeVox. But if you are looking to test your website on a Chromebook, then knowing ChromeVox will definitely come in handy. As a leading web accessibility testing services company, we always make it a point to master all the resourceful tools for our accessibility testing projects. So we have written this guide to help you get started with accessibility testing using the ChromeVox Screen Reader and to explore all the important ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts.

There are two ways to run ChromeVox on your Chromebook.

1. You can click on ‘Options’ that can be found on the right side corner of your Chromebook and click on the accessibility symbol.

2. Or you can use the press shortcut keys Ctrl+Alt+Z to turn on ChromeVox.

ChromeVox Keyboard Shortcuts:

Once you have got ChromeVox up and running, you can use the various shortcuts to use it effectively. We have created a table of the most important ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts that you’ll need to know by categorizing them into different categories as well.

Main Content Navigation

Skimming through a page’s content is a very common activity that most of us do. So you have to test if your heading levels have been assigned properly as it will also impact regular reading as well. Once the user finds the part they want to be read out by the screen reader, they should be able to start the reading. So use the below ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts for easily testing all these aspects.

S. No Functions Shortcut Key
1 Heading Navigation Search Bar + H
2 Previous Heading Shift +H
3 Next Level 1 Heading Search Bar + 1
4 Previous Level 1 Heading Shift + 1
5 Next Level 2 Heading Search Bar + 2
6 Previous Level 2 Heading Shift + 2
7 Next Level 3 Heading Search Bar + 3 8 Previous Level 3 Heading Shift + 3 9 Next Level 4 Heading Search Bar + 4
10 Previous Level 4 Heading Shift + 4
11 Next Level 5 Heading Search Bar + 5
12 Previous Level 5 Heading Shift + 5
13 Next Level 6 Heading Search Bar + 6
14 Previous Level 6 Heading Shift + 6
15 Landmarks Search Bar + Semicolon
16 Pervious Landmarks Shift + Semicolon
17 Start Reading From Current Location Search Bar + R

We also all know that not all users would want their screen readers to read everything that is on the display. So it is extremely important for you to test the Skip to main content feature. So once the user hits the enter or spacebar key, the focus should move to the main content area. It should also be verified on each and every page of your site without fail.

Line by Line Navigation

Being able to skim through the content alone isn’t enough. So we also have to test if line by line and word by word navigation also works well with your content.

S. No Functions Shortcut Key
1 Next Line Search Bar + Down Arrow
2 Previous Line Search Bar + Up Arrow
3 Next Word Search Bar + Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow
4 Previous Word Search Bar + Ctrl + Shift + Left Arrow
Interactive Elements Navigation

The tab is the primary key when it comes to navigating through the different interactive elements in the page like links, forms, edit fields, menu items, and so on. You can access the interactive element that has the focus by pressing enter or spacebar. But if you are testing if there are any broken links or if the links have a proper anchor text, you can even navigate across just the links or even get a list of the links on the page by using the mentioned ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts.

S. No Functions Shortcut Key
1 Forward Navigation Of Interactive Elements (Links, Forms, Edit Field) Tab
2 Backward Navigation Of Interactive Elements (Links, Forms, Edit Field) Shift + Tab
3 Next Link Search Bar + L
4 Previous Link Search Bar + Shift + L
5 Next Visited Link Search Bar + V
6 Previous Visited Link Search Bar + Shift + V
7 Show Links List Search Bar + Ctrl + L 8 Show Form List Search Bar + Ctrl + F 9 To Move Focus To Pop-Up And Dialog Alt + Shift +A
Table Navigation

Since tables can have many rows and columns, navigation around each cell using the search bar and arrow keys could turn out to be difficult and confusing. But since we can’t leave any content on the page untested, we have specified the ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts that will help you navigate any table with ease.

S. No Functions Shortcut Key
1 Show Table List Search Bar + Ctrl + T
2 Next Table Search Bar + T
3 Previous Table Search Bar + Shift +T
4 First Cell In The Table Search Bar + Alt + Shift + Left Arrow
5 Last Cell In The Table Search Bar + Alt + Shift + Right Arrow
6 First Cell In The Current Row Search Bar + Alt + Shift + Ctrl + Left Arrow
7 Last Cell In The Current Row Search Bar + Alt + Shift + Ctrl + Right Arrow 8 First Cell In The Current Column Search Bar + Alt + Shift +Ctrl + Up Arrow 9 Last Cell In The Current Column Search Bar + Alt + Shift + Ctrl + Down Arrow
Multimedia Content

There is almost no page that doesn’t have images and videos making alt text, transcripts, and audio descriptions key factors to check. You can use the shortcuts to quickly navigate to all the graphic images and test if proper alt text has been used.

S. No Functions Shortcut Key
1 Next Graphic Image Search Bar + G
2 Previous Graphic Image Search Bar + Shift + G

If there is a video on the webpage, keyboard playback controls must be available for the user to pause or play the content easily. Audio descriptions are important for videos that rely on visual cues to convey meaning.

Advantages of the ChromeVox Screen Reader:

Docked and full-screen Magnifier:

As a leading Accessibility Testing Company provider, we understand that Screen readers are not just for people who have total loss of vision. So you have to test your content with ChromeVox’s two types of screen magnifiers that will enable low-vision users to view and read the content of the page without any difficulties.

Of the two types, one is a full-screen magnifier and the other is a docked magnifier. Once the full-screen magnifier is enabled, the entire page is magnified with a zoom level that can be changed as per the need. So if the webpage isn’t optimized for this feature, then the content will start overlapping to create a bad user experience. Since the full screen is getting magnified, it should also be possible to navigate the content with ease at any given zoom level. So make sure to use the Ctrl + Alt + Arrow keys to test that as well.

Since not all users will require the entire page to be magnified, ChromeVox’s Docked Magnifier allows the users to magnify the part of the page where the cursor is. These are a few of the add-on features that are exclusive to the Chromebook that cannot be used in any other system. So make sure to test the content on your page and see if it is compatible with these features as well.

The ChromeVox Screen Reader Chrome Extension

Apart from these exclusive features for the Chromebook, ChromeVox can be added as an extension to Google Chrome on other platforms like Windows and Macs. Installing the ChromeVox extension is no different from installing any other Chrome extension. Though the extension does not have all the features the full version does, it surely has its own benefits as it offers some basic screen reader functionalities.

ChromeVox’s Speech Viewer

Once the ChromeVox Screen Reader has been turned on, the speech viewer will automatically be displayed on top of the screen. This is a great advantage in ChromeVox when compared to other screen readers such as NVDA that don’t have a separate speech viewer as it will overlap the web content.

Disadvantages of ChromeVox:

As you can see, the search bar key and the shift key are important when it comes to ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts.
For Example: Unlike other screen readers, pressing the H key without pressing the search bar key will not move to the heading levels.

But the major drawback in the ChromeVox Screen Reader when it comes to testing is taking screenshots as the content in the speech viewer will not be covered. So you would have to rely on videos for your bug reports. Videos for major bugs are fine, but it will be a cumbersome task to add videos even for small bugs.

The Definitive Mobile App Accessibility Testing Checklist for Android & iOS


Apart from the few disadvantages, ChromeVox is a great screen reader for testing your content on a Chromebook. The unique ChromeVox Screen Reader Chrome extension might also turn out to be useful in rare scenarios. So we hope you are now clear on how you can use ChromeVox to get effective web accessibility testing done using the various ChromeVox keyboard shortcuts. If you are looking to test your content across various platforms and screen readers, there are various options such as JAWS, NVDA, Narrator, OKRA, Voice Over, and so on.


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