Browsing the web with chrome and talkback

Android's stock browser has fewer features for accessibility than firefox which we'll talk about in another tutorial; However, it loads pages about 4 times as fast as firefox on my 2013 Motorola Moto G. The other key advantage is that since chrome uses standard android webviews, the features I'm discussing right now also tend to work in other webviews enabled applications. Webviews work extremely well in chrome. In other applications, not so much unless you are running lollipop (the latest version of android).

In order to use the web effectively, we recommend that you change the gestures in TalkBack.  Since Talkback uses the same action for swipe right and swipe down and since it uses the same action for swipe left and swipe up; you can safely switch the swipe up gesture to activate previous granularity and the swipe down gesture to go to next granularity.  Tap settings, accessibility, talkback, settings, manage gestures, and make the changes here for swipe up and for swipe down. Once this is done, swiping down or up in a fuid motion will change to navigation by character, word, blocck and so on.

When you load a page in chrome, use the down/up gestures to navigate the page by element. chrome offers you control, list, and something called section navigation. Control and list are self-explanatory. In my experience, section navigation amounts to heading navigation. Although, I have noticed when navigating inclusive android in chrome that talkback announces the text of some of the headings, while it does not announce the text of some other headings. This isn't the case in firefox. I don't know why chrome treats headings differently.

Now, try this on your mobile device. Open the Inclusive Android homepage. Use the vertical gesture (swipe up or swipe down) to find sections. Then, flick right to move down the page section by section until you reach the "latest apps and game entries" section. In order to read the contents of that section, you'll have to use the gesture again to cycle to default granularity. Then you can flick right link by link to see the most recently added apps. These gestures work much more reliably for me than the firefox gestures, but I find the extra step of having to cycle a bit tedious. The firefox solution is more elegant in it's way as you'll see in a moment.

chrome's interface is blisfully uncluttered with most of the screen devoted to displaying pages, an address and serch box, a tabs list button, and a menu button containing most of the actual browser functionality you'd expect.

There are two things missing from the chrome experience. First, keyboard shortcuts for accessibility. While keyboard shortcuts for various browser functions are rife, accessibility shortcuts for element navigation are absent. Second, chrome does not have an article reader.


works on:

  • Motorola Moto G
  • Report if this works on your device

Works not on:

  • Report if this does not work on your device