ChromeVox for Pre-Ice Cream Sandwich Version of Android! (updated on October 1, 2011)


Apps4Android is porting ChromeVox to Android and modifying it to run on pre-Ice Cream Sandwich versions of Android! This is a description of our project.

During Google I/O 2011, Google unveiled ChromeVox – a built-in screen reader for Chrome OS. The version unveiled was an early developer beta that was designed to help authors of web applications come up to speed with platform accessibility on Chrome OS.

Apps4Android was excited to see this new development!  ChromeVox is built as a Chrome extension. This means that unlike most accessibility software, it is built using only web technologies like HTML5, CSS and Javascript. As the built-in accessibility solution for Chrome OS, it can help users with print and mobility disabilities access modern web apps, including those that utilize W3C ARIA, Access to Rich Internet Applications) to provide a rich, desktop-like experience.

ChromeVox leverages two of Chrome’s experimental extension APIs, the experimental.tts API for cross-platform text-to-speech, and the experimental.accessibility API that lets an extension listen for accessibility events in Chrome’s menus and toolbars. In turn, ChromeVox exposes a simple screen reader API to web developers who want to further customize the ChromeVox user experience. Thus, within your application, you can:

  • Automatically generate spoken messages and earcons.
  • Set ChromeVox to synchronize with your application’s current focus.

ChromeVox also comes with an interactive online tutorial that demonstrates how users of spoken feedback interact with webpages. Examples range from static content to interactive applications. You can test these same navigation techniques within your own applications to quickly verify users can reach all portions of your application using the keyboard and obtain meaningful feedback. You can then annotate your application with the necessary ARIA properties and other accessibility enhancements to ensure that blind and visually impaired users gain complete access to your application.

Details on enabling accessibility in Chrome OS can be found on the Accessibility help page, and the Chrome extension is available for download from Google’s Wiki page. For now, ChromeVox is targeted at end-users on Chrome OS, but it may also prove a useful tool to web developers using Chrome on all major platforms.

Apps4Android made the decision to absorb the additional cost of trying to port ChromeVox to Android.  Doing this has many, significant advantages over the original method used to develop our advanced browser. The most important of which is developing an Android browser that is synchronized, exactly, with ChromeVox.

ChromeVox Tutorial

Project Source and Other Files:

Google Accessibility Team/Steve Jacobs’ demonstrations at Google I/O:


Apps4Android Web Access Plugin Source Code Deposits: