Using Microsoft Teams With a Screen Reader
Doug Lee
Last Revised September, 2020

This document is meant as an introduction and reference for using Microsoft Teams (Teams) with a screen reader. This document may more directly or frequently refer to JAWS but is not meant to exclude other screen readers in its coverage. For documentation and download of JAWS scripts for Teams, refer to Using the JAWS Scripts For Microsoft Teams.

This document was last revised against Teams version as tested on September 5, 2020. This Teams version is an Electron app. The active interface code comes directly from a Microsoft server and may change without notice and without changing the Teams version number just mentioned. As a result, user experience may vary.

Table of Contents

A Quick Simplification of Terminology

In this document, "virtual navigation" refers to navigation using JAWS' virtual PC cursor, NVDA's Browse mode, Narrator's scan mode, or any similar system that involves navigating a screen-reader-crafted view of the document that causes many keystrokes to interact with the screen reader rather than with the application.

Application Structure

Teams is based on the division of conversations into teams of people, and within a team, channels for topics or focus areas. A channel may contain conversations, which can be "threaded" so that the first message in each thread is immediately visible and replies may be accessed at the user's discretion. The Teams screen can be opened via the Ctrl+3 shortcut.

Teams screens are divided into "apps," chosen from an app bar or with specific keystrokes for each app: Some included apps (besides Teams as already mentioned):

Finally, Teams includes a system for tracking your own activities or the activities of other users through "the Activities app." Ctrl+1 opens this screen.

Note that the specific effects of the keystrokes just mentioned may vary slightly among Teams installations, based on corporate policies.

General Tips

Quick Ways To Get Things Done

Review available Teams keystrokes by typing Ctrl+Period and then turning on virtual navigation to read the shortcut information.

Use Ctrl+Comma to open Settings. Virtual navigation may be useful on these screens.

To jump to a specific team, type Ctrl+G, type its name or type part of its name and select the full name via DownArrow, and press Enter.

To start a one-to-one chat, type Ctrl+N, type a partial name, use DownArrow to select a person, and press Enter. If this is a chat with just one person, type Enter a second time to open the chat. Otherwise continue adding new members until done, then press Enter an extra time to create the chat.

In a chat screen, use Tab and Shift+Tab to jump between the input edit box and the list of messages. When a chat is threaded, use Enter and Esc to switch between the thread level and the messages in a particular thread. When in the list of messages for a thread, the Down arrow will reach a Reply button that will allow you to send a reply.

Use the command edit box to accomplish many tasks very quickly. Type Ctrl+/ before each of the actions below, and make sure virtual navigation is turned off. In JAWS, use Insert+Z to do this if necessary.

There are more commands available than are listed here. For a better description of this feature and a list of the available commands provided by Microsoft, visit the "Use commands in Teams" page.

Available Microsoft Resources and Internal Application Help

Microsoft provides several useful resources for Teams users in general and screen reader users in particular: