Image of Orbit reader 20 with text

Orbit Reader 20: Using the Orbit with a Chromebook

This article will focus on the unique aspects of using the Orbit Reader 20 with a Chromebook.

NOTE: Prior to reading this article, you may wish to review previous articles in this series:

Layout and Menu Structure of the Orbit Reader 20

File Structure of the Orbit Reader 20.  

Reading and Working in Files on the Orbit Reader 20

Editing Basics on the Orbit Reader 20

Translating a File Created on the Orbit to Print

In this article, we will look at use of the Orbit Reader 20 in conjunction with a Chromebook.  Please note that this article focuses on use of the Orbit with a Chromebook, not on how to use ChromeVox itself.  Commands and directions will be provided on use of the specific device with the latest version of Chrome OS (which as of today is 72.0).

What is ChromeVox?

For your Orbit to function with the Chromebook, you must have ChromeVox activated.  If you do not have the screen reader turned on, there is no way for the Chromebook to “talk” to the Orbit Reader.  This is true of all braille displays, not just the Orbit. Please see the resources section at the bottom of this article for further information.

Connecting the Orbit to your Chromebook

Step One: For the Orbit to communicate with the Chromebook, it must be placed into HID mode.  This can be done by pressing Space with dots two and seven. 

Step Two: The Chromebook must be physically connected to your Orbit Reader via a micro USB cable.  This is the same cable used to charge the unit if hooked to a wall plug. At that point, the Chromebook should recognize the Orbit and, if it is not already turned on, ChromeVox should be automatically activated.

Emulating Key Combinations from the Orbit

ChromeVox is operated using various key commands or “shortcuts”.  These shortcuts are used to communicate with ChromeVox, which in turn tells the Chromebook what you’d like to do (such as enter a menu or navigate to a specific location within Chrome OS).  If you are familiar with how screenreaders work, it is the same idea as how JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver work.

Since the Orbit does not have an “Alt” key, it must be simulated using a specific dot combination.  Combinations such as Alt + Shift or Control + Alt are also necessary at times. 

Obviously, the Orbit only has nine keys (counting the dots seven and eight as well as the spacebar) so you cannot enter commands such as Alt + S in one stroke.  Therefore, you must enter the designated key combination for Alt and then enter the letter S (dots two, three, four). This means you must release the keys simulating the Alt prior to pushing the key combination for the letter S.  

Below is a list of the Orbit Reader keystrokes and the key combinations each emulates:

These emulator keys are NOT necessary to use the Orbit with the Chromebook, but they will make you faster and more efficient when using them due to the fact that your fingers will not need to leave the braille display.  If you are transitioning into using the Orbit with the Chromebook, learning one or two combinations at a time will likely help you feel less overwhelmed. 

On the other hand, if you do not wish to apply these keystrokes, you always have the option of returning your hands to the keyboard on the Chromebook as needed. 


In addition to the key combinations above, you can also navigate the Chromebook by using the arrow keys on the orbit as well as the various other methods used by other displays to navigate Chrome OS.  There are details in the resources section at the end of this article. 


Want more resources?  Here is a list to get you started!

Orbit Reader 20 User Guide here

Using ChromeVox

ChromeVox Video Tutorials

Using a Braille Device with your Chromebook

Also, please check out the YouTube video in this post if you would like a step by step walkthrough. 


By Snowflake_tvi

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