Google Docs with JAWS and MAGic Lesson One

NOTE: For those of you participating in the live Webinar, the following link will open the documentation in a new browser window Opens a new window.

Google Drive

Before beginning our exploration of Google Docs, we must take a look at Google Drive. Google Drive is commonly used as the central storage location for your Google Docs files. Through Google Drive, you will be able to access your Google Docs files online. Composition and editing of your documents takes place online and you are able to collaborate and share your documents with others anywhere in the world, working together in realtime in collaborative projects.

Google Drive is a free file storage service made available to those who have a Google account (Gmail account). Files are stored both on the web and on your hard drive. Google Drive provides free storage of up to 15 GB of files and subscription plans are available for purchase which include greater storage capacity. Google Drive allows sharing of all files between all pc, iOS and Android devices which are synced to the same Google account. During Google Drive's installation process, you will be asked to sign into your Google Account. You will be given the opportunity to create a google account if you don't already have one. Google Drive Permits organization of files into folders and permits the sharing of files with others.

Installation of Google Drive

Google recommends using Mozilla Firefox when accessing Google Drive, Google Docs and google Sheets. During this Webinar, we will be using Mozilla Firefox, as recommended, for the best experience with Google Drive and Google Docs. During the download and setup process for Google Drive, you will need to login using your Google account information. This is your Gmail address and password. If you do not yet have a Google account, it is recommended that you create one before performing the steps discussed in this lesson. Because setting up a Google email account and password is beyond the scope of this lesson, this lesson only presents directions for setting up Google drive after you have already set up your Gmail account. The screens you must navigate during the download and setup process for Google Drive will be different than those you will encounter if you do not begin the process with a Google account already established.

To download and install Google Drive:

  1. Go to
  2. The "Meet Google Drive" page will open.
    You will be asked to "sign in to continue to Google Drive."
  3. Enter the Gmail address you created when you set up your Google account in the edit field.
  4. Navigate to the Next button and press SPACE.
  5. Enter your Google account password in the edit field provided.
  6. Navigate to the Sign In button and press SPACE.
  7. Navigate to the link "Drive For Mac/PC" and press ENTER to activate the link.
  8. When the next page opens, navigate to "Mac and PC" and press ENTER
  9. The next page provides you with an opportunity to accept Google's Terms of Service. To continue with the download, press B to navigate to the "Accept And Install" button and press SPACE.
  10. A new page opens which provides, among other things, a link to retry the download. At the same time, Firefox should also open a window asking whether you wish to save the downloaded file.
    TAB to Save File and press ENTER.
  11. A "Downloads" list will open. If the file "googledrivesinc(1).exe" is not selected, use the UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW keys to select it.
  12. Press ENTER to start the Google Drive installation.
  13. A "Welcome To Google Drive" dialog will open. Press TAB to move to the "Get Started" button and press SPACE.
  14. At this point, you will need to sign in using your Google Account Gmail address and password.
  15. After entering your Gmail Address and Password into the edit fields, navigate to the "Sign In" button and press SPACE.
  16. You will now be shown four successive pages, each containing some brief descriptive text about Google Drive. Simply press TAB to reach the "Next" button on each page and press SPACE to proceed to the next page.
  17. When the final page opens, press TAB to navigate to the "Done" button and press SPACE to complete the setup process.

A Google Drive folder will be created on your hard drive. When the installer closes, focus will be in the files list of this folder. You can press ALT+F4 to close this folder.

The Google Drive installer has placed a shortcut to Google Docs, Google sheets and Google Slides on your computer's desktop.
There is online accessibility help available for Google Drive on the "Get Started In Google Drive With A Screen Reader" page

Google Drive Basic Layout

Google Drive can be accessed online at: or from your computer's desktop by activating the Google Drive shortcut.
When the Google Drive page opens, focus should be placed automatically on the Files list. Use the ARROW keys to move through the list. Remember to turn Virtual PC Cursor off when working with Google Drive online. Press INSERT+Z to turn Virtual PC cursor on and off.
The Google Drive interface consists of several major sections:

You can press TAB and SHIFT+TAB to "step" from area to area, or use shortcut keys to move directly to an area.

Go To Keys And Other Useful Commands

Google Drive provides shortcut keys which make navigation within the Drive interface quicker and more convenient. These commands will only work if the virtual pc cursor is turned off. The shortcut keys (Go To keys) are composed of two-key sequences beginning with G followed by a second letter. A few other shortcut commands use only one letter to navigate to a specific menu item within the Google Toolbar or the Drive Toolbar.

Description Command
Go To Navigation Pane GN or GF
Go To Items View (Files list) GL
Change File List area between grid view and list view V
Go To Details/Activity Pane GD
Go To Upload Status GU
Go To Download Status GA
Go To Top Of Page GT
Go to Toolbar GR
Move Between Items In The Toolbar TAB and SHIFT+TAB
Go Up One Folder In The Path GP
Go to Settings Menu in the Toolbar T
Go to the New menu in the Toolbar C
Go to Search area /
Go To Action menu A

The name of an area will not be announced after a "Go To" command if focus is already in that area.

Files Area

The Files area contains the list of folders and files stored in your Google Drive. Folders and files can be displayed in grid or list format. You can move through the list of files using the Arrow keys. If this area is set to grid view, you may need to use all four Arrow keys to locate every item within the grid. It is simpler to set the area to list view by pressing V and using only the UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW keys to move through the vertical list of files.

Opening A File From Within Google Drive

Press either O or ENTER to open a selected file. Opening a Google Docs file causes a new tab to open. This new tab contains the document in the Google Docs environment.

Working In The Cloud

Google's applications, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides were not actually installed on your computer when you installed Google Drive. Instead, shortcuts to specific web pages were placed on your desktop. Activating one of these shortcuts will take you to the appropriate page, where you will work with your documents using the Docs, sheets or Slides interface, depending on which application you invoke from your desktop. In the case of Google Docs, pressing ENTER on the Google Docs shortcut takes you to the Google Docs web environment and also causes your list of Google Docs files to appear within the Google docs interface. You will compose, edit Save and perform other functions within this online environment. The actual documents you create are stored on your computer's hard drive, but unlike word processors and editors such as Microsoft Word or Notepad, no text editing application is launched, or run on your computer. Instead, all of your document editing and files manipulation is done "in the cloud" through the Google Docs web interface.

Creating A New Document

We will now begin to explore the Google Docs environment. You may find it to be markedly different from what you are used to experiencing as you compose and edit text. We will begin by creating a new Google Docs document from within the Google Drive interface. When the new document opens, we will be immediately placed in the Google Docs interface.
Due to the need to adjust accessibility settings in Google Docs, you will not be able to navigate and interact with the new document when it first opens. However, after making the needed changes, you will be able to compose and edit text easily. Also, once these settings changes are made, they will be retained by Google Docs and you will not have to set them again.

To create a new Google Docs document:

  1. Press c to go to the "New" menu.
  2. Press DOWN ARROW until you select "Google Docs" and press ENTER.

A new, untitled Google document will be created and opened. Remember, we will have to make some adjustments before we can easily navigate within this environment.

Screen Reader Support In Google Docs

Google has provided additional screen reader support within Google Docs. If screen reader support is enabled, you will hear the announcement "Screen reader support enabled" when a Google Docs file opens. This setting will have to be enabled the very first time you ever open a Google Docs file.
To enable screen reader support, press CTRL+ALT+Z. You should hear the announcement "Screen reader support enabled." Google Docs will retain this setting so that screen reader support will be enabled every time you open a Google Docs file thereafter.

NOTE: The "Screen Reader Support Enabled" and "Screen Reader Support Disabled" announcements appear to be inconsistently spoken at the time this material was compiled.

JAWS Settings In Google Docs

Google recommends the use of Mozilla Firefox with Google Docs. From within an open Google Docs document make the following changes:

  1. Set typing echo to none by pressing INSERT+2 until you hear "None."
  2. Press INSERT+Z twice quickly until you hear JAWS announce "The virtual cursor will be turned off for all applications" to disable the virtual pc cursor.
  3. Press ALT+SHIFT+F followed by SHIFT+TAB to move focus to the top toolbar.
  4. Press INSERT+V to open the JAWS Quick Settings dialog.
  5. Press CTRL+e to bring focus to the search edit field and type "forms" to search for the forms mode items.
  6. Arrow down to Auto Forms Mode and set it to Off
  7. ARROW DOWN TO "Forms Mode Off When New Page Loads" and uncheck the check box.
  8. TAB to OK and press ENTER.
  9. If you have not already done so, press CTRL+ALT+Z to toggle the screen reader support on.
  10. Press ALT+SHIFT+A to place focus in the Accessibility menu.
  11. Press DOWN ARROW until you select the Settings submenu
  12. Press RIGHT ARROW to open the submenu.
  13. Arrow down to Enable Braille Support and press ENTER

Until you enable braille support JAWS will not be able to interact properly with the document edit field; you will not be able to navigate around or read the text which you may have entered. This holds true even if you are not using a braille display with JAWS.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Because Google Docs is different from a typical website, some standard screen reader shortcuts don't apply. For the best experience, use Google Docs shortcuts while editing your document.
If you ever forget a key combination, you can open a list of keyboard shortcuts within Google Docs by pressing Control + /. Along with a list of shortcuts, the dialog contains a link to view all Google Docs shortcuts in the Help Center. To close the dialog, press Escape.

Finding Help Documentation

As you use Google Docs, you can find help documentation at any time. Press Alt + / to search the menus. Type a search term, such as "Accessibility," then press Enter. The help documentation opens in a dialog where you can read or navigate to other topics. To dismiss the dialog and return to the document, press Escape.

Working In Google Docs

Let's take a moment to learn how to navigate within the web based environment of our Google Docs document.

Basic Navigation

You can read through the text in your document using standard JAWS reading commands.

As stated before, because you interact with Google Docs in the cloud, through a web based interface, you will need to use Google Doc's own shortcut keys and commands to compose and edit your documents. For example, in a text editor which is running on your local computer, such as Microsoft Word, you would press the ALT key, perhaps followed by one or more modifier keys to make changes or apply styles to your document. Since Google Docs is a web based application which you are accessing through Mozilla Firefox, you cannot use this method to compose or edit your document. Pressing the ALT key, along with other modifier keys would affect the standard Firefox menus. You would not gain access to Google Word's toolbars and menus through the use of the ALT and other modifier keys. Using Google Doc's set of shortcut keys, however, allows you to navigate to all of its toolbars and menus and to invoke its various editing functions.
You saw an example of these shortcut keys when we navigated to the Top toolbar and into the Accessibility menu while configuring JAWS and Google Docs accessibility.

Document Layout

The Google Docs web interface consists of several Areas. The primary area is the Edit area. You can create, edit and read text in this area.
Other areas include:

Applications Menu

Use shortcut keys to invoke different submenus within the Applications menu.
The group of shortcut keys available all include the ALT+SHIFT keys.

File Submenu

After pressing CTRL+SHIFT+F, use the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW keys to navigate the menu. Press the down arrow key to open a submenu item. Continue to press the DOWN ARROW key to navigate through the submenu just opened. Press ENTER to activate a submenu item. Press ESCAPE to return to the document.

Top Toolbar

To navigate to and interact with the Top toolbar:

Main Toolbar

To navigate to and interact with the Main toolbar:

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