Use a screen reader to select and read text boxes and images in Word 2016

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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.

Use Word 2016 with your keyboard and Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to select and read images, shapes, and text boxes in Word 2016 documents.

Using the Selection pane in Word 2016, you can display all the images, shapes, and text boxes within the document as a list. You can read the list with Narrator, and select list items to read the alt texts or to edit them.

Notes: 

In this topic

Access text inside text boxes

As text boxes float above the document’s text layer, the screen readers cannot find them while reading the body text. To access text inside a text box, use the Selection pane.

Tip: To quickly move the focus to the first floating shape such as a text box, press Ctrl+Alt+5. Then, to cycle through the floating shapes, press the Tab key. To return to the normal navigation, press Esc.

  1. In the document, press Alt+H to open the Home tab.

  2. To open the Selection pane, type SL, and then P. Narrator announces “Show All button”. The text boxes, images, and shapes appear on a list.

    Note: If there are breaks (such as page and section breaks) in your document, the Selection pane lists only the items up to the next break.

  3. Use the arrow keys to move up and down the list. Narrator announces the list items as you move.

  4. To select a text box, press Spacebar.

  5. To open the context menu, press Shift+F10. Narrator announces: “Cut menu item”.

  6. In Narrator, use the arrow keys to move to the Edit Text item, and press Enter. Press any key to place the cursor inside the text box.

    In JAWS, you need to line the text box with the document text first. To set the text box in line with the text, move to Wrap Text, and use the Right or Left arrow key to go to In Line with Text, and press Enter. Press Esc to return to the body of the document.

  7. Narrator can now read the text inside the text box. To start reading, press Caps Lock+M. To return to the body of the document afterwards, press Esc twice.

    To read the text box contents in JAWS, press Alt+Num Pad 5.

Access images using the Selection pane

Other than inline images may be inaccessible to screen readers. To access all images in a document, use the Selection pane.

Tip: To quickly move the focus to the first floating shape such as an image, press Ctrl+Alt+5. Then, to cycle through the floating shapes, press the Tab key. To return to the normal navigation, press Esc.

  1. In the document, press Alt+H to open the Home tab.

  2. To open the Selection pane, type SL, and then P.

    The images, shapes, and text boxes appear on a list.

    Note: If there are breaks (such as page and section breaks) in your document, the Selection pane lists only the items up to the next break.

  3. Use the arrow keys to move up and down the list. Narrator announces the list items as you move.

  4. To select an image, press Spacebar.

  5. To go back to the document body, press Esc. Narrator announces the file name of the document.

  6. Narrator can now read the image alt text, if there is one. To start reading, press Caps Lock+M.

    In JAWS, press Ctrl+Num Pad 5.

Access inline images without using the Selection pane

If you want to work on the inline images as you read a document, you don’t need to open the Selection pane.

  1. Narrator announces the images when it reads through a document. To stop on an image, press the Ctrl key.

    Tip: If you miss the right spot and need to go back or forward in the document a word at a time, press the Left or Right arrow key until you hear Narrator announce the image.

  2. To select the image, press Shift+Right arrow.

  3. You can now work on the image. For example, to open the picture context menu, press Shift+F10.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert a picture or an image in Word 2016

Use a screen reader to check spelling and grammar in Word

Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word on Windows

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

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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