Using the Cloud, Using a Reader: Cloud Storage Service Accessibility for People with Blindness or Low Vision

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Storing files in the “cloud” lets people access files from different devices and locations, without having the file stored on one specific device. This is especially useful as more people work and connect with others remotely due to COVID-19. The many benefits of using cloud storage include the ability to accessed files from multiple devices, share files with others, edit documents online, and even work online with others.

The benefits of using the cloud are important. But what is it like for a person who are blind who have low vision? Here’s an overview of screen reader accessibility issues of three cloud storage services commonly used by businesses, and how those issues could impact the user experience of people who use a screen reader.


Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage services. Unfortunately, it has several accessibility issues that may make it difficult for those who use a screen reader.

Accessibility Issues

  • During initial setup, the screen reader doesn’t see the proposed location of the Dropbox folder or the text of the other screens.
  • Some controls aren’t labelled when setting up preferences.
  • Accessibility through Dropbox Desktop may fluctuate from version to version.
  • Dropbox Paper, the document editing and collaboration tool, is inaccessible.
  • The layout of Dropbox may be different in Firefox and Chrome.

Google Drive

Google Drive is linked with a Google account. Those who use Gmail, Calendar, or other Google product likely already have Google Drive. It is generally very accessible.

Accessibility Issues

  • Works like a web application rather than a regular web page. New users may not know
    how to use it and become frustrated.
  • Use Forms mode in JAWS or Focus mode in NVDA to use it properly.


Microsoft OneDrive is integrated into Windows 10 and can be downloaded for other platforms. Those who use Windows 10 may already have a OneDrive account. There are very few accessibility issues with OneDrive.

Accessibility Issues

  • Earlier version of Windows 10 may have significant issues during the initial setup, but the file explorer integration is still accessible.
  • Control+F6 must be used to get to the download button when opening a link to a shared document.

For more information about what to look for in a cloud storage service provider and accessibility issues that could impact their use by people with blindness or low vision, read:

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