WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Using TalkBack to Evaluate Web Accessibility


TalkBack is a screen reader that comes installed on Android devices. This article is designed to help new or novice TalkBack users learn how to test web content in mobile Chrome.

The steps to enable and disable TalkBack may vary depending on the device and software version. Go to Settings > Accessibility > TalkBack, then enable the toggle button to activate TalkBack (this may be found in Settings > Accessibility > Vision on some devices). Within the TalkBack settings you will also find the Text-to-speech settings, which allows you to adjust the speech rate and pitch for TalkBack.

In the Accessibility options you can set an accessibility shortcut by going to Settings > Accessibility > Volume key shortcut (also called "Accessibility features shortcut" on some devices) and enable the toggle button next to TalkBack. This shortcut allows us to activate TalkBack by holding down both volume buttons for 3 seconds.

To disable TalkBack, you can do a two-finger triple tap on the home button if the shortcut is enabled, or you can hold the power button until the Phone Options dialog appears then hold down two fingers on the screen until a tone plays. TalkBack can also be suspended by holding both volume buttons for three seconds. In this case, TalkBack may be resumed from notifications or by returning to the lock screen.


Evaluating web accessibility on a mobile device is not so different from testing on a desktop browser. The same WCAG requirements that apply to a desktop version of a webpage apply to the mobile version as well. You will also want to test the WCAG 2.1 Input Modalities success criteria on mobile.

Basic testing can be conducted by doing the following:

  1. Enable TalkBack.
  2. Load the web page in the Chrome browser.
  3. Open the global context menu and choose "Read from the top" or "Read from next item".
  4. Change the Local Context Menu option to an element of interest (such as Links, Headings, or Landmarks, Images, etc.).
  5. Swipe right (next element) or left (previous element) to navigate through the selected elements.

To activate an element, such as a link or form control, either navigate to it by swiping or slide your finger over it until it is read, then double tap anywhere on the screen. Typing text can be done by sliding your finger to a character in the on-screen keyboard, then lifting your finger once the letter or symbol is announced. To change this behavior, Go to Talkback (in your accessibility settings), select Settings, and enable Single-tap typing.

It is advisable to also conduct TalkBack testing with a Bluetooth keyboard to ensure the content or application supports mobile keyboard accessibility. It is also useful to test without looking at the screen to ensure a more authentic experience.