Learn to Use VoiceOver on your Mac

If you own a Mac, you already own a screen reader called VoiceOver, which is built into the operating system. You can use VoiceOver to listen to your computer, and to web sites, because VoiceOver converts text to speech. VoiceOver also understands ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) markup, which means it can dynamically communicate the names, states, roles, properties, and relationships of JavaScript widgets to blind users, making interactive web content accessible even as it changes in the browser.

To start using VoiceOver, press Command + F5 on the keyboard. VoiceOver will start talking to you. Open up a web page and let VoiceOver read it. For an authentic experience, don't use a mouse or trackpad, because a blind person won't be using those visual methods of navigating. Here are some important keyboard shortcuts to remember:

  • Turn VoiceOver on or off: Command + F5
  • Pause: Control
  • Start reading again: Control + Option + A
  • Read one element at a time: Control + Option + Right Arrow
  • Show the "Rotor:" Control + Option + U (Then use right/left arrow keys to toggle categories, and down/up arrow keys to select an option)
  • Navigate through links and form controls: Tab

That's enough to get started, but there are many keyboard shortcuts. Refer to the list of VoiceOver keyboard shortcuts in Deque University's resource section for more complete information.