I was pleasantly surprised when I recently updated my Chromebook to the latest version of Chrome OS (version 54 at the time of writing). Whenever I do an update, one of the first things I do is go into the accessibility settings to see if any new options have been added. In the latest version of Chrome OS, Google has provided a number of visual supports that I am finding helpful as a person with low vision. For example, there is now the option to enable additional highlighting (a red circle) when the mouse cursor moves. This kind of additional visual cue makes it much easier for me to use the interface.
To enable the new highlight options, go to Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Accessibility. The new options are as follows:
- Highlight the mouse cursor when it’s moving: the cursor will be surrounded by red circle whenever it moves. There is already an option to enable a large cursor, but that can cause problems whenever you are trying to check a small box (as often happens on dialog boxes). With this additional highlighting added to the mouse cursor I can still find it on the screen even if I need to temporarily set it to its default size.
- Highlight the object with keyboard focus when it changes: this is really helpful when interacting with form fields. Whenever a text field or other form element gets focus it is surrounded by a thick yellow border.
- Highlight the text caret when it appears or moves: adds a blue circle around the text caret. I did not find this setting as useful, maybe because there is not much space between the text caret and the highlight.
- New animation for auto-click: as the circles get smaller, this indicates how much time is left before the auto-click takes place.
There is some room for improvement with these visual supports (for example, the option to change the colors), but overall I think this is a good addition to Chrome OS. The options for highlighting the moving cursor and keyboard focus are going to always be turned on on my Chromebook.