I recently sat down at my Mac with a my handy-dandy list of Mac VoiceOver commands. As a sighted educator, who is fluent with VoiceOver on the iPad, I thought I could simply spend an hour or two and teach myself the required steps and VoiceOver commands required to create a Word document while running VoiceOver. The first thing I did was an Internet search - why reinvent the wheel if someone has already shared the step-by-step instructions or video tutorial? I could find overwhelming VoiceOver command cheat sheets and some video tutorials on other Mac and VoiceOver activities; however, I was not able to find any free, helpful information on how to create a Word or Pages document while running VoiceOver. So, I devoted my "spare time" that evening to teaching myself. . .the next morning, I quickly moved on to Plan B.
Plan B: If you have a tech question, just ask a student! In this case, Victor, a 9th grade tech savvy student, came to my assistance!
To Create a New Word Document
- Turn on VoiceOver: Command + F5
- Open Word, open Spotlight: Command + space
- Type Word and press Enter
- Create a new blank document: Enter
- Maximize the window: Control + command +F
- Type content
To Save a Word Document
To save: Command + S
- (VoiceOver focus is automatically on the Save As textfield; if you want to navigate around the window, use Tab or Shift Tab)
- Type document name
- To move around the window: Tab or Shift Tab
Choose saved location: (Default is last saved location)
- If you choose to change the location, Open the list of options: VO + space
- Move through the options: down arrow
- Select your preferred option VO + space
When on your preferred location, press Enter
- Note: I typically save to my desktop or Dropbox; Victor saved this document to his Downloads folder)
- To finish Saving the document: Enter
- To quit Word: Command + Q
Open a Document Saved to Downloads Folder
Go to Microsoft Word in the Download folder: Command + option + L
- Voiceover announces that you are on a "text element inside a browser. . . "
To move between items in Downloads folder: VO + shift + down arrow, then VO + up, down, left or right arrow
- (If you choose to exit, VO + Shift + up arrow)
- When on the desired document, open document: Command + O
Navigate to the end of the document: Victor used right arrows in the video
- Jump to the end of the document: Command + End or Command + function + right arrow
- Continue typing
- Save document again: Command + S
- Quit Word: Command + Q
- Close Finder window: Command + W
There are multiple locations that you can save your Word document. In this video, Victor demonstrated how he saves his Word document to his Downloads folder. I tend to save my Word documents either on my desktop (as I continue to work on the document) or in the cloud storage system such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Saving documents into the cloud ensures that the document is backed up and that it can be easily accessed from multiple personal devices and/or from other computers. For a student who does not have a personal device, it is important to be able to access his/her document from any school or personal computer/device. Cloud storage also enables users to create folders and multiple levels of subfolders, making it easier to find organize documents.
Note: The default is your last saved location. If you always save your documents in the same location, you will not have to navigate to the Location button and select your favorite location.
On my computer, I have added Dropbox in the Men bar at the top of the page. It is the first icon on the right side of my screen.
Open a Document Saved on the Desktop
- Move to Desktop: VO + Shift + D
- Move to desired Word document: Up, down, right or left arrows to navigate desktop icons
- Open desired document: VO + space
- Close Word document: Command + W
If you are not used to a screen reader, it seems like there is a lot of "chatter". However, that chatter will quickly become your best friend, especially if you are learning to use VoiceOver. VoiceOver will announce the commands that you need to know! VoiceOver will announce the common next-step commands that are currently available. Be sure to actively listen to what VoiceOver is trying to tell you. Only if you know your next command, should you "shush!" VoiceOver!