Screen Reader Recommendations

Compiled by Ken Petri, with Laura Fathauer, Brad Henry, and Tom Stone

The following sections provide an overview of how a person who is blind would interact with Connect as either a presenter/host or participant. Click each heading to read more. These apply to Connect 8; previous versions of Connect had poor accessibility.


Technology Requirements and General Recommendations

  • User must be using Windows with the JAWS screen reader and Internet Explorer as the web browser. The Adobe Connect Add-in must be installed in the browser. Current versions of JAWS, Internet Explorer, and Flash are recommended. Other screen readers and other browsers did not perform properly. Flash is inaccessible with VoiceOver on the Mac.
  • Note that at times we noticed that JAWS's understanding of what was on screen in Connect got "stale." When using JAWS, if the Connect session appears to be non-responsive or in other ways "out of sync" with what you know to be going on in the session, try refreshing the screen via JAWS-KEY + ESC.

General Adobe Connect Navigation Keys

The following will be helpful for getting around inside Connect. For a fuller listing of shortcut keys, see Adobe's page of Accessibility shortcuts.

  • Use Ctrl + F6 to move between pods (control areas)
  • Use the Tab key to move between controls within a pod. Arrow keys navigate between and inside of sub-parts of any single control area/pod.
  • Use Crtl + down arrow (↓)for activating combo boxes
  • Use Ctrl + spacebar for showing contents of top level menus. Arrow keys navigate menu contents.
  • Use F8 to move focus to any notification. Once in the notification, use the Tab key to move to the cancel/close button to dismiss a notification.


Participant Interactions

Chat and Share

In order to have access to the Chat pod and the Share pod (where the presentation is running), participants must launch Connect in the browser (not in the separate Connect plug-in).

Ctrl + ; (semicolon) will focus the Chat pod and put the focus in the Chat input field. Return/Enter will submit the chat message. To read chat messages you have two options.

  • You may Shift + Tab to the chat list above the input field and then use down arrow to review each message in sequence, oldest to newest.
  • Or, perhaps more useful, use the Up Arrow key when in the input field to go up to the most recent chat message.

PowerPoint Presentations

To read the contents of a PowerPoint presentation, use Ctrl + F6 to move between pods until you find the Share pod. Then use the Down Arrow key to move into the running presentation and review its contents.

  • Up and Down arrow keys ( ↑ or ↓) move you around in the current slide.
  • You may want to refresh the screen contents with JAWS-KEY + ESC, if you feel the presenter has moved on from the slide your screen reader is reading but the Connect contents have not updated.


Presenter / Host Interactions

Presenters can share their screen and applications(PowerPoint, for example) but cannot use Chat and will have limited access to some other controls, since they must use the Connect Add-in in order to share the screen and the Add-in does not support screen reader access to the Chat list.

As a recommended practice, a JAWS-reliant presenter should be assigned a moderator who can read back to the presenter the chat contents. Alternatively, the presenter could require that all communications with participants be through the Connect audio/VOIP connection.

PowerPoint Presentations

To launch and run a PowerPoint Presentation,,

  • Start the Connect session normally, using the Connect Add-in (rather than launching it within the web browser).
  • Launch the PowerPoint presentation normally, and switch it into a full-screen, "slide show" view. Shift + F5 does this, and ESC exits this view.
  • Move cursor focus back to the Connect Add-in (for example, by using Alt + Tab until focus is on the Connect session). Once in the Connect session, use Ctrl + F6 to move to the Share pod
  • In the Share pod, press the Tab Key once. This lands you on the Share My Screen button. Unfortunately, this button is improperly announced by the screen reader. You will hear just a jumble of characters and words. But when you hear this "garbage" you will know you are on the button, at least.
  • Press Ctrl + [ (left bracket). This will open a dialog which allows the presenter to choose to share the desktop, a document, or an application.
  • Choose to share an application. In the list below this option, check the PowerPoint checkbox and press Enter.
  • This will begin sharing your PowerPoint presentation with the attendees. Move the cursor focus back to the PowerPoint. You then can navigate the PowerPoint presentation with the space bar to advance the slide and the backspace key to go back a slide. You can review the slide contents as you normally would, using the Up and Down Arrow keys ( ↑ or ↓).
  • Note that it would be a good idea to periodically check to see if your attendees are seeing the same slides as you, by asking them the title of the current slide they are seeing over the audio connection.