G Suite Accessibility

Concise Background

Due to the COVID-19 situation, G Suite has been becoming more used remotely at many institutes.

Despite its built-in accessibility, many people still have difficulties in configuring the related options.

This article will quickly walk you through the nitty-gritty points of the G Suite accessibility settings.


In this article, the following will be described:

  1. Toggling accessibility global options for G Suite.
  2. Toggling accessibility local options within each Google product.
  3. Setting screen-reader-friendly layout in Google Drive.

Accessibility Global Options for G Suite

  1. Go to G Suite Accessibility settings.
  2. Toggle on and/or off the following two options selectively:
  • Screen reader: turn this on if using screen readers in G Suite.

  • High-contrast colors: toggle this on if a more color-contrast is needed in G Suite.

  • Notes: If you have more than one Google account, the configuration described above must be applied to each account separately. Click an expandable icon saying “Google Account: ([])” to switch between accounts for which you would like to apply the accessibility options.

Accessibility Local Options within Each Google Product

  • Notes: Regardless of the global options explained above, the following local options are strongly recommended for screen reader users to toggle on in case those are disabled. As each product remembers their own settings, you only need to go through the settings below just one time.
  1. Open a specific Google product (e.g., Google Docs; Sheets; Slides).
  • Notes: You can open any Google documents that you either have been invited from others or have created by yourself.
  1. Press Alt+/ (forward slash) to bring up a search menu.
  • Notes: For screen reader users, turn off virtual cursor (AKA browse mode) before excuting the search menu above. Press JAWS+Z for JAWS, NVDA+Spacebar for NVDA to achieve this goal.
  1. In the search menu edit box, type in “accessibility” without quotes to select “Accessibility settings” and enter on that focused item.
  2. Must check the following two options if using screen readers:
  • Turn on screen reader support.
  • Turn on braille support.
  1. Do the steps 1 through 4 inside each of the Google products (e.g., google Docs; Sheets; Slides) to fully benefit from G Suite accessibility for screen readers.

Setting Screen-Reader-Friendly Layout in Google Drive

  • Notes: The following is optional; however, it may contribute to screen-reader-navigation.
  1. Open Google Drive.
  2. Press “v” without quotes to toggle between list view and grid view. The list view is recommended for screen reader users as it only has one direction (up-and-down navigation) mode which is much simpler to grasp.
  • Notes: For screen reader users, turn off virtual cursor (AKA browse mode) before “v” key. Press JAWS+Z for JAWS, NVDA+Spacebar for NVDA to achieve this goal.

More Resources

For more information, please consult with Google Docs and Sheets with a Screen Reader archived by Perkins eLearning.

JooYoung Seo
JooYoung Seo
Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in Learning, Design, and Technology

My research topics include STEM education, computational thinking and accessible makerspaces.