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Using VoiceOver’s rotor on macOS

Posted in Accessibility and Apple

If you’re new to VoiceOver, once you’ve got the hang of the basics, the next thing to learn is the ‘rotor’; a supercharged page navigation tool.

A sighted user can quickly scan a page and pick out things like headings, links, and forms; you’d imagine this would be impossible for a non-sighted user, but the rotor allows VoiceOver users to do the exactly same thing.

To activate the rotor, make sure VoiceOver is running and you’re on Safari, then hit (Command) + u.

Among other things, the rotor offers lists of:

  • headings on the page, including their level (<h1>, <h2>, etc.), allowing the user to quickly scan how a document is structured
  • landmarks like the page header, navigation, main content, footer, and so on
  • links
  • form controls like <input>, <textarea> and <button>

The left and right arrow keys switch from one list to the next, and the up and down arrow keys move through the items in each list.

To jump to the item you want, press (Return) or Space.

Not interested in links? Or maybe you’d like images to be listed? To change what’s presented in the rotor, head to VoiceOver Utility → Web → Web Rotor and use the checkboxes to turn things on or off.

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