Get started using a screen reader with Skype for Business in Outlook on the web

Read out loud symbol with the label Screen reader content. This topic is about using a screen reader with Office

This article is for people who use a screen reader program with the Office products and is part of the Office Accessibility content set. For more general help, see Office Support home.

You can use your screen reader with Skype for Business in Outlook on the web to have chat conversations with one contact or with multiple people. Skype for Business operates as part of Outlook on the web rather than as a standalone app.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Windows screen reader, Narrator. To learn more about using Narrator, go to Get started with Narrator.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with a PC. Some navigation and gestures might be different for a Windows phone or tablet.

  • When you use Skype for Business in Outlook on the web, we recommend that you use Internet Explorer as your browser. Because Skype for Business in Outlook on the web runs in your web browser, the keyboard shortcuts are different from those in the desktop program. For example, you’ll use Ctrl+F6 instead of F6 for jumping in and out of the commands. Also, common shortcuts like F1 (Help) and Ctrl+O (Open) apply to the web browser – not Skype for Business in Outlook on the web.

In this topic

Open Skype for Business in Outlook on the web

Skype for Business Online must be launched inside of Outlook on the web, and it runs inside of Outlook on the web. Skype for Business Online is not a standalone app.

  1. Open Outlook on the web by going to http://outlook.office.com. Sign in to your Office account.

  2. To move to the Office Online toolbar, press Ctrl+F6 until you hear “Open the App Launcher.”

  3. To open the Skype for Business pane, press the Tab key until you hear “Use the Down Arrow key to use the Skype for Business conversations pane.” (In Narrator, you hear “Use the Down Arrow key to open the Skype pane.”) Then, press the Down Arrow key.

    The Skype for Business pane opens, and the All Contacts list tab is active.

Explore the user interface for Skype for Business in Outlook on the web

When you first open the Skype for Business in Outlook on the web panel, the All Contacts tab is active. This first of two tabs displays all of your Skype contacts, listed in alphabetical order by first name. The second of the two tabs lists only your Skype contacts who are currently online.

To the right are three control buttons: a Search for People button, which lets you search Skype for new contacts; the View your contacts list button, which brings you to the Contacts panes; and a Start a new conversation button, which lets you start a new chat with one or more contacts on Skype.

When you have active conversations going, the participants’ icons appear in the rightmost margin, underneath the three main Skype controls. When you have a new message in any ongoing conversations, an orange indicator appears on the sending contact’s icon.

In the lower-right section of the Skype pane, there are two additional buttons: the Toggle Chat Notifications icon and a Give Feedback icon. The first turns the Outlook on the web chat notifications off or on. The second launches a feedback form in a new browser tab, where you can send a message to the Skype for Business team.

When you select any individual Skype contact, you open a chat with that person. The Contacts pane is replaced with a chat pane. The chat pane has an expandable pane. At the top that pane is the contact’s name and status, in addition to a button that lets you add more people to your chat. Beneath the Chat Contact area is the conversation in the window. At the lower edge of the Skype for Business panel is a chat edit field, where you can type your message.

Work with screen readers

In Skype for Business in Outlook on the web, you can use Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows, or a third-party screen reader, such as JAWS. A screen reader converts text to speech and reads aloud commands, locations, lists, and buttons, in addition to the content itself.

Here are some notes about working with Narrator or JAWS.

  • To turn Narrator on or off on a PC, in Windows, press Windows logo key+Enter.

  • To turn Narrator on or off on a tablet, press the Windows button+Volume Up.

  • If your screen reader stops reading or behaves unexpectedly, press Alt+Tab to leave the current window, and then press Alt+Tab again to return to it. This resets the screen reader's focus on the current window.

  • For more information about Narrator, refer to Hear text read aloud with Narrator.

  • For more information about JAWS, refer to the JAWS Screen Reader Documentation.

After starting your screen reader, in Outlook on the web, to navigate to Skype for Business in Outlook on the web, press Ctrl+F6 until you hear “Start the App Launcher.” Then, press the Tab key until you hear “Use the Down Arrow to use Skype for Business.”

To navigate through the Skype for Business controls, use the Tab key or the Down Arrow key. Because this version of Skype for Business operates inside of Outlook on the web, it is easy to move out of the Skype controls and into the Outlook on the web controls. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to move back by pressing Ctrl+F6 or Shift+Tab. Learn more in Use a screen reader to navigate in Skype for Business in Outlook on the web.

Start a conversation

  1. When the focus is on the Open the Skype Panel button, to get to the first name in your Contacts list, press the Tab key. To move down through the list, press the Down Arrow key. You hear the name of each contact as it is selected.

  2. When you hear the name of the person you wish to chat with, press Enter. The Conversation pane opens and the focus is in the Edit Chat box. You hear the name of the contact and that contact’s current status.

    1. To invite additional people to this conversation, press the Tab key until you hear “Add people to this conversation.” Then, type in the name of the people you want to add to the conversation. To select additional contacts from your All contacts list, press Enter. After you have added your new contacts, press the Tab key until you hear “Add button” and then, to add those people to your chat, press Enter.

    2. To move the focus to the Chat input box, press the Tab key. You hear “Chat input.”

  3. In the Conversation pane, type your message in the Message box.

  4. To send your message, press Enter.

End a conversation

  1. When you are ready to end the conversation, to get to the Skype for Business menu panel, press the Tab key. You hear “Search conversation,” and the focus is in the first menu item.

  2. Press the Tab key until you hear the contact’s name. For more options, press Shift+F10. You hear the first available menu option. If the conversation is open with one person, you hear “Close conversation.” If it has more than two participants, you hear “View profile.”

  3. To place the focus on Close conversation, use the Down Arrow key and then press Enter.

See also

Use a screen reader to find a contact in Skype for Business in Outlook on the web

Use a screen reader to send an instant message from Skype for Business in Outlook on the web

Use a screen reader to navigate in Skype for Business in Outlook on the web

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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