Day 56: Practice with Narrator

Back to exploring more assistive tech, specifically screen readers. Today I experimented for the first time with Narrator, the built-in screen reader for Windows. I was a bit apprehensive at first since it has not been on my priority list to learn, knowing that only a mere 0.3% of desktop screen reader users actually use Narrator, according to WebAIM’s latest Screen Reader Use Survey. However, it’s free and built-in for Windows users (and it’s mentioned in the WAS Body of Knowledge study material), so I’m giving it a chance.

Things I accomplished

What I learned today

  • Turn on Narrator with shortcut keys: Windows (logo) key + Ctrl + Enter.
  • Narrator was finicky with Firefox, my preferred browser, but Edge is recommended as the best web browser when using this screen reader.
  • Narrator has a Developer View (Caps Lock + Shift + F12), which masks the screen, highlighting only the objects and text exposed to Narrator.
  • By default, Narrator presents an outline around the parts of the webpage that it is reading aloud. I found this handy to keep up with where it was at.
  • It has touch gestures. I suppose that makes sense when not all Windows computers are only desktop computers.
  • Accessible documents are important. (I knew this already) I was able to easily navigate between tables on the Deque PDF cheatsheet with the T key because they made it with accessibility in mind.

There is still so much to learn! Jumping between screen reader programs leaves my head spinning with all the shortcut keys I’d need to know. I’ll come back to this screen reader at some point because one hour of use is not enough to get fully comfortable with it. I also need to expand upon my cheatsheet to include more commands/tasks. Currently, it’s just a quick guide to the most frequent tasks I’ve needed.

An Aside: Fun A11y Resource