Using Something New to Learn Something New

Recently, I purchased a Chromebook for testing at work. Now, I’ve worked in limited capacities with Chromebooks over the years, but they’ve mostly been something that I know exist, but I’ve not had too much serious “get-to-know-your-Chromebook” time. All that has now changed, as I have one for testing purposes. After opening it up and initial configuration, then came the nitty-gritty stuff. Adjusting the ChromeVox settings so I could navigate comfortably. This is doing things like changing the voice, adjusting speech rate, disabling the automatic reading when a web page loads and so on. AS Chromebooks are portals to web browsing, any web page settings will make a world of difference. There was just one problem- how do I get to the ChromeVox settings? Each screen reader, (the technology that speaks what appears on-screen to blind or visually impaired computer users) hosts a variety of different settings you can adjust to your liking. Each of these employ various keyboard shortcuts to help the user navigate quickly and efficiently. Something as essential as entering the settings for ChromeVox is something I didn’t know how to do.

Do I pull up a Windows PC to Google what I needed? That thought crossed my mind, as I have used Windows for years, and can run around a Mac competently as well. However, ChromeVox is very new, so … what to do? At this point, the beauty of the Chromebook struck me with its brilliance. Since most tasks are accomplished through a browser, all I need to do is Google what I need using the Chromebook itself. Most screen readers employ standard keyboard shortcuts: press the letter “H” to navigate by headings, press “E” to navigate by edit boxes, and a standard command for getting to the address bar regardless of the browser in use is to press ctrl+L, or command+L if you are on a Mac.

Knowing that, I began to set ChromeVox up the way that worked best for my use-case. I Googled information on ChromeVox, and in a matter of minutes, I had it running efficiently and I felt a lot better about everything.

Conclusion

When something is new, it can often seem daunting. How to get to various things that you don’t even think about becomes everything you think about. In the case of getting comfortable with a Chromebook, keyboard shortcuts were something I knew nothing about. Thankfully, Joel has experience using these machines, so he was able to help get me started. Between his expertise, and my familiarity with standard screen reading and computing keyboard shortcuts, I was able to turn something new, into something I could use. As with anything new, the more time I spend with the Chromebook, the less foreign it will feel. I remember having a similar experience when I began to use VoiceOver on the Mac. If you’re starting something new, (finding a new hobby, learning a new operating system, planting a garden, or building something), remember, it will feel strange at first. The more time you spend devoted to your new pursuit, you may find yourself wondering: how did I ever live without this? The possibilities of what to start, what to continue working on, or how to help others are up to you. Wherever you are in the learning process, I hope you’re having fun!