Get started using a screen reader in Word

Get started using a screen reader in Word

The Word 2016 app works with Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows, and with third-party screen readers, such as JAWS (Job Access with Speech).

Notes: 

In this topic

Start Word

  1. To start, press the Windows logo key. You hear: “Search box, edit.”

    Note: The Windows logo key is between the left Ctrl key and the left Alt key on a standard Windows keyboard.

  2. Type Word. You hear: “Desktop app.”

  3. Press Enter. As the app opens:

    • In Narrator, you hear: “Word window.” In JAWS, you hear: “Backstage view.”

Note: To learn what the user interface looks like and how to navigate with the keyboard in Word, refer to Accessibility in Word 2016.

Do more tasks with Word and a screen reader

To learn more about accessibility in Office products, visit Office Accessibility Center.

Word for Android works with TalkBack, the built-in Android screen reader. This article tells you how to open Word and sign in to your account using TalkBack.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Android screen reader, TalkBack. To learn more about using TalkBack, go to Android accessibility.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with an Android phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an Android tablet.

  • If you don’t already have it, download and install the Word for Android app from Google Play.

In this topic

Open Word for Android

  1. On your Android device’s home screen, drag your finger around the bottom of the screen, until your hear “Apps,” and then double-tap the screen.

  2. Swipe up with two fingers to get to the end of the alphabetically sorted app list, and then drag your finger around the screen until you hear: “Word.” Double-tap the screen to open the app.

When you start Word for the first time, you may need to sign in to your Microsoft account. To learn how to do that, refer to Sign in to your Microsoft account with Word.

Tip: If you have turned on “Ok Google” voice detection in the Google app, you can simply say “Ok Google, open Word.”

Work with the TalkBack screen reader

Word for Android works with the built-in screen reader TalkBack. When Android TalkBack is on, you hear a spoken description of whatever you touch, select, or activate on your device. This includes commands, locations, alt text, and the contents of Word screens, menus, and pop-up windows.

Turn TalkBack on

You may need a sighted person’s assistance to turn TalkBack on.

  1. On your Android device’s home screen, tap Apps > Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack.

  2. Tap the toggle to the On position, and tap OK.

  3. To return to the home screen, swipe up-then-left.

Navigate with TalkBack using gestures

When TalkBack is on, you can drag your finger along the screen to find commands, locations, and content. TalkBack announces the icons, buttons, and other items as you drag your finger over them. You can also swipe right or left to move to the next or previous item on the screen. To select or activate the current command or other screen elements, double-tap the screen. To scroll up, down, left, or right, use two fingers to swipe in that direction.

Tip: Instead of using the Home button, you can swipe up-then-left, and instead of using the Back button, you can swipe down-then-left.

Set TalkBack preferences

Get to know the full list of shortcut gestures you can use when TalkBack is on, along with many other options for customizing how your device works with TalkBack.

  1. On your device’s home screen, drag your finger along the bottom of the screen until you hear “Apps, double-tap to activate,” and then double-tap the screen.

  2. Swipe up with two fingers to get to the end of the alphabetically sorted app list, and then drag your finger around the screen until you hear: “Settings.” Double-tap the screen.

  3. Swipe right until you hear “Accessibility,” and then double-tap the screen.

    Tip: If you have turned on “Ok Google” voice detection in the Google app, you can simply say “Ok Google, open Accessibility settings.”

  4. Swipe right until you hear: “TalkBack, On.” It is usually the first command on the Accessibility menu. Double-tap the screen.

  5. Swipe right until you hear “Settings,” and double-tap the screen.

  6. Swipe up with two fingers to scroll roughly halfway down the list. TalkBack tells you where you are when you stop swiping. Swipe right until you hear: “Manage gestures.” It is usually on the second half of the list. Double-tap the screen.

  7. Swipe right to explore the list of available gestures. TalkBack announces each gesture, followed by what it does. To return to the TalkBack Settings menu, swipe down-then-left.

  8. Explore some of the other available options in the Settings menu:

    • Speech volume

    • Use pitch changes

    • Keyboard echo

    • Shake to start continuous reading

    • Speak usage hints

    • Vibration feedback

    • Sound feedback

    • Explore by touch

    • Show Context Menu as list

    • TalkBack suspend and resume shortcut

  9. To turn an option with a toggle on or off, double-tap the screen. You know the option has a toggle if TalkBack says “On switch” or “Off switch” after describing the option.

  10. To get more information about an option that does not have a toggle, double-tap the screen. To return to the TalkBack Settings menu, swipe down-then-left.

Tip: If you turn on TalkBack suspend and resume shortcut, you can press and hold both Volume up and Volume down keys to silence TalkBack until you need it again, for example, if a sighted person uses your device for a while. When you hear “Suspend TalkBack,” swipe right until you hear “OK button,” and then double-tap the screen.

Turn TalkBack off

  1. To return to the home screen from any view or menu, swipe up-then-left.

  2. On your device’s home screen, drag your finger along the bottom of the screen until you hear “Apps, double-tap to activate,” and then double-tap the screen.

  3. Swipe up with two fingers to get to the end of the alphabetically sorted app list, and then drag your finger around the screen until you hear: “Settings.” Double-tap the screen.

  4. Swipe right until you hear “Accessibility,” and then double-tap the screen.

    Tip: If you have turned on “Ok Google” voice detection in the Google app, you can simply say “Ok Google, open Accessibility settings.”

  5. Swipe right until you hear “TalkBack, On,” and then double-tap the screen.

  6. Swipe right until you hear “On switch,” and then double-tap the screen. You hear: “ Stop TalkBack?”

  7. Swipe right until you hear “OK button,” and then double-tap the screen.

For more information, refer to Get started on Android with TalkBack.

Work with other accessibility features

To make your work with your Android device more accessible, in addition to turning on TalkBack, you can set up other features on the Accessibility screen.

  1. On your device’s home screen, drag your finger along the bottom of the screen until you hear “Apps, double-tap to activate,” and then double-tap the screen.

  2. Swipe up with two fingers to get to the end of the alphabetically sorted app list, and then drag your finger around the screen until you hear: “Settings.” Double-tap the screen.

  3. Swipe right until you hear “Accessibility,” and then double-tap the screen.

    Tip: If you have turned on “Ok Google” voice detection in the Google app, you can simply say “Ok Google, open Accessibility settings.”

  4. In the Accessibility menu, swipe right until you hear: “System, heading.” Here are some of the available options:

    • Captions adds captions to the bottom center of all images. After turning captions on, you can change the text size and caption style.

    • Magnification gestures enables the feature so you can zoom in and out of a view with certain gestures. Swipe right past the toggle to hear an explanation of the gestures.

    • Font size lets you increase all text on your device to a larger point size.

    • Display size lets you increase the size of all items on the screen.

    • Speak passwords lets you speak your passwords rather than type them.

Sign in to your Microsoft account with Word

After you sign in to Word, your account is also available for other Office apps.

  1. After opening Word for the first time, wait until you hear: “Get things done on the go.” Swipe right until you hear “Sign in button,” and then double-tap the screen.

  2. You hear: “Allow Word to access your contacts?” Swipe right until you hear “Allow button” or “Deny button,” depending on what you want to do. Double-tap the screen to confirm your choice.

  3. Wait until you hear “Type your email address or phone number,” and then double-tap the screen. Type your email address, swipe right until you hear “Next, link,” and then double-tap the screen.

  4. Swipe right until you hear “Microsoft account” or “Work account,” depending on what kind of account you’re using with Word. TalkBack reads you a description of both account types. Double-tap the screen to confirm your choice.

  5. Wait until you hear: “Edit box, password.” Double-tap the screen, then type the password you want to use. Swipe right until you hear “Sign in button,” and then double-tap the screen.

  6. Wait until you hear “You’re all set,” and then swipe right until you hear: “Start using Word.” Double-tap the screen to finish adding your account.

See also

Use an external keyboard with Word for Android

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate in Word using accessible features

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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