Learn how to navigate Visio using accessible features

Learn how to navigate Visio using accessible features

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.

Visio 2016 includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts and a screen reader to work with Visio 2016. For more information about accessibility settings and features that work in your device, refer to Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.


  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • For keyboard shortcuts, go to Keyboard shortcuts for Visio.

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

  • This topic makes note of the JAWS functionality as well. To learn more about JAWS for Windows, go to JAWS for Windows Quick Start Guide.

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

In this topic

Get to know the Visio 2016 layout

When you open a Visio 2016 diagram or create a new one, the name of your diagram is centered at the top of the screen. App controls such as Minimize and Close are in the upper-right corner. By default, the Quick Access toolbar resides at the upper-left side of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo.

Below the toolbar is a set of ribbon tabs, such as Home, Insert, Design, Data, Process, Review, and View. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized into groups. For example, if you select the Insert tab, a ribbon appears. From that ribbon, you can pick different items, such as pictures, charts, or callouts, to insert into your diagram.

Two panes appear below the ribbon. The Shapes pane is on the left. It includes the More Shapes menu, which contains all pre-defined shapes in Visio, divided into categories such as Engineering and Flowchart. The Shapes pane also includes a search field for shapes. On the right is the active diagram. The lower-left corner of the screen contains the Macro Recording button. The lower-right corner of the screen contains View buttons and Zoom controls.

Navigate using the keyboard

To navigate in Visio 2016 and to cycle through the screen landmarks, press F6. The landmarks are, in order:

  • The buttons and controls in the lower-left and lower-right corners

  • The top toolbar and ribbon tabs

  • The active diagram (when using JAWS)

  • The Shapes pane

Tip: To navigate to the active diagram using Narrator, press F6 until you reach the Shapes pane, and then press the Tab key.

To cycle through the screen elements of the current landmark, press the Tab key (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward). To select an item, press Enter. To browse within menus or lists, press the arrow keys, and then, to make a selection, press Enter. For example, you can switch between the elements of the active diagram by pressing the Tab key. To exit a menu or mode, press Esc.

Tip: To navigate inside the Shapes pane using Narrator, press Caps Lock+Right or Left arrow key.

Visio 2016 includes accessible names that can be read by screen readers as you work in the application. If a diagram has been created using a Visio 2016 template or sample diagram, the navigation order has been defined so that it's easier for the screen reader users to understand the flow of the diagrams. The screen readers also announce the starting and ending points for connectors.

Special considerations for Visio 2016

To make the content easier to read and select, you can increase contrast or invert colors on your computer using the high contrast settings of Windows. To start using a high contrast theme quickly, press left Alt+left Shift+Print Screen, then press Enter to activate the high contrast theme.

Windows offers you several high contrast themes. To find the one that works best for you:

  1. Press the Windows logo key, then type "high contrast" in the search box. Your screen reader says: "High contrast settings, system settings."

  2. Press Enter. You hear: "Settings window, High contrast theme," followed by the name of the currently selected theme.

  3. Use the Down and Up arrow keys to browse the high contrast themes until you find one that works for you.

  4. Press the Tab key until you hear "Apply button," then press Enter to activate the selected theme.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

See also

Use a screen reader to create a Visio diagram

Use a screen reader to read Visio diagrams

Keyboard shortcuts for Visio

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Visio diagram accessible

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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