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Peter Vágner

Editing text with Commentary #ScreenReader on #Android

5 min read

Commentary screen reader is a modern and trendy app for android that adds some inovative and usefull features on the top of the necessary screen reading features.
It's worth noting that as compared to Talkback it is very very responsive and feels snappy.

Lets look at how Commentary screen reader (CSR for short) handles text editing.

Imagine we are writing a message using the Gmail app. We can open the app, locate the Compose button somewhere at the top of the screen, bring up the compose screen, tap message text field in the center of the compose screen. All this is a standard screen reader interaction.
Keyboard such as Google keyboard (GBoard for short) opens and we can begin typing.
Let's write at least two sentences so you have a bit of text to practice editing with.
If you are done typing, touch the text box you have just been typing into. You will receive feetback from CSR stating you can use left and right arrows to navigate over the text.
If you want to make simple changes to your text near the start of your text navigating letter by letter and using backspace key on the keyboard is enough however if you need to edit parts of your text in the middle or near the end of the text it would not be very practical to navigate character by character there.

CSR has an editing entry in the actions menu. So either flick right then up and execute editing from the action menu or flick right then down to open the same editing menu, the choice is yours. It's best to inwoke this after touching or navigating to text box where the editing makes sense. When using the Action menu you can open the editing menu for just any content on the screen even buttons, checkboxes and similar. That way you can review the content, copy parts of it or use it to your heart's imagination, of course editing won't work in that case.
When the editing menu is displayed on the screen it has row of buttons on the bottom and most of the screen space is taken by the list. By using the buttons on the bottom you can configure the list to split the text into characters, words or paragraphs. If you tap the Char button, the list will have as many items as there are characters in your text. If you choose words then the number of items in the list relates to how many words there are in your text. If you choose paragraphs it will split your text by end of line character so wrapped lines don't count. The buttons currently say Char, Sentence and Paragraph. Perhaps that's minor translation discrepancy while translating from chinese to english as the text is clearly divided to the individual words rather than sentences when the Sentence button is pressed.
If you have a large text you can start by splitting that to paragraphs. Find the paragraph you are interested in and reconfigure the list to split text into words if the paragraph is very long and continue navigating word by word just by browsing the list.
When you double tap an entry in the list, only the chosen part of text is shown in a simple text box dialog. This dialog is the most simple dialog you can get. It has a title a text box and OK and Cancel buttons. It only displays your chosen part of the text in the box so you can double tap it and edit it as a simple short text by navigating character by character and deleting using keyboard backspace / delete button.
It is even possible to call editing from this dialog again if you have clever use case for that. So you may use this split editing feature recursivelly and focus on the text you wish to work with. This way it is helping you to prevent accidental keypresses that may introduce typos and other unwanted edits.
This editing menu can split text up to 100 characters in the free CSR version, so if you would like to use it for serious editing you will have to activate the premium version.

It is also possible to work with the text the traditional way when using CSR. There is so called Word by word mode. Actually there are two modes Word by word mode and Focus browsing mode. We can toggle these two modes by swiping left then down.
In focus browsing mode you are navigating from item to item on the screen by swiping either up or down. Left or right swipes can be used to skip a group of items such as scroll to next page, move past a list and similar. This is also working on the web.
In word by word mode up and down swipes move line by line and left or right swipes move a character. When you cross an item boundary for example moving from button to button or out of a text box, CSR beeps or vibrates according to the configured preferences.
There are additional word by word mode specific gestures:
Swipe left then right - Skip to previous paragraph.
Swipe right then left - Skip to next paragraph.
Swipe up then down -
Swipe down then up -
Swipe left then up -
Swipe right then down -

I am not sure what exactly are these four gestures supposed to do. They are moving to the start or to the end of a text. But they are duplicated for a reason I would say.

Feel free to experiment with these features and be sure to discuss how it affects your productivity with your Android device.
The official SCR Telegram group is at