Accessibility in Skype for Business

Office Accessibility Center

Note: For more information about accessibility features available for other apps in Office 365, refer to Accessibility in Office 365.

Skype for Business

The Skype for Business app in Office 365 includes accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities to use the meeting and messaging app. For example, people who are blind or who have low vision can use screen readers to have information about the user interface (UI) read aloud to them. People who have limited mobility can use keyboard shortcuts or speech recognition tools instead of a mouse. This topic covers accessibility features available in Skype for Business for many types of disabilities.

Notes

  • For more information on Skype for Business, go to Online meetings with Skype.

  • Windows computers have built-in assistive tools that you can use with Microsoft products. To learn more about assistive technologies included with Windows 10, go to Make your PC easier to use.

In this topic

Explore the Skype for Business user interface

Using Skype for Business, you can schedule and conduct online meetings that include as many as 250 attendees. Plus, you can call colleagues and send messages to them. The elements included in the Skype for Business UI change based on the communication element you select: contacts, conversations, phone calls, or meetings.

If you’re a person who is blind or has low vision, or if you have limited mobility, it helps to know the landmarks in the Skype for Business UI so you can more easily build a mental model of it to more quickly move around the UI.

You can use the main areas of the Skype for Business UI (described in the following table), along with the specific elements in the UI, as landmarks in your mental model.

Landmarks to use in your mental model of the Skype for Business UI

Area of the UI

Elements of the Skype for Business UI

First row: Menu bar or your personalized post

  • If you changed the default view to show the menu bar for the app, the menu bar is in the first row, followed by the What’s happening today text box.

  • If you use the default view for the app, which doesn’t display the menu bar, the What’s happening today text box is in the first row. It shows your personalized post.

Second row: Information about you

  • User name

  • Status menu. Shows your status, such as Available, Busy, or Do Not Disturb, among other options.

  • Set Your Location text box. Shows your location.

Third row: Communication elements that change the information shown in the main area of the UI

  • Contacts button. Shows information about your contacts.

  • Conversations button. Shows information about your conversations.

  • Phone button. Shows information about your voice mail.

  • Meetings button. Shows information about your upcoming meetings.

  • Show Menu button. Enables you to access the following buttons and menus:

    • File menu

    • Meet Now button

    • Tools menu

    • Help menu

    • Show Menu Bar toggle. Shows or hides the menu bar for the app in the first row of the UI.

Variable number of rows: Information that corresponds to the communication element you selected

If you select the Contacts button, the following information is shown:

  • Find someone search box. Searches for people in your organization.

  • Contact view buttons:

    • Groups button. Groups and shows your contacts by your favorites and other contacts.

    • Status button. Groups and shows your contacts by their status, such as Online or Away, and so forth.

    • Relationships button. Groups and shows your contacts by their privacy relationship with you, such as Colleagues, Friends and Family, or Workgroups, among others.

    • New button. Shows the people who have added you to their contact lists.

    • Add a contact, create a group, and customize the Contacts list button. Adds contacts, creates groups, and sets display options.

  • The contact details for each person include name, status, and device capabilities (such as Video Capable).

If you select the Conversations button, the following information is shown:

  • All conversations button. Shows all your conversations.

  • Missed conversations button. Shows your missed conversations.

  • Calls button. Shows your call history.

  • Each of your conversations or each call in your call history.

If you select the Phone button, the following information is shown:

  • Find someone search box. Searches for people in your organization.

  • See Voice Mail Options menu. Shows a menu that includes the following commands: Call Voice Mail, Change Greetings, and Set Up Voice Mail.

  • Each of your voice mails.

If you select the Meetings button, the following information is shown:

  • Meet Now button. Starts a meeting now.

  • Each of your meetings grouped by the scheduled date.

Last row: Information about your primary device

Select Primary Device menu. Shows audio and video information about your primary device.

Use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts

Skype for Business admin center Help includes features that make it accessible to a wider range of users, including those who have limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities.

Screen readers are apps that enable people who are blind or have low vision to hear audible feedback for the elements of a UI. As with the UI in other Microsoft products, the UI elements for Skype for Business include names that screen readers can understand (accessible names).

When you use a screen reader with Skype for Business, the screen reader reads the accessible names aloud to you (along with any other relevant information), while the focus of the screen reader moves to each element of the UI that you’re using in Skype for Business.

For example:

  • When you select the Contacts button in Skype for Business, the focus of the screen reader moves to that button and the screen reader says, “Contacts.”

  • When the focus of the screen reader moves to each contact in Skype for Business, you hear the person’s user name and status.

  • When you initiate communication with a contact (by selecting the contact and pressing Enter), the focus of the screen reader moves to a separate communication window. You hear “Conversation with,” followed by the person’s user name.

Note: For more information about screen readers, go to American Foundation for the Blind: Screen readers, which lists many of them, including the popular JAWS (Job Access with Speech). Or, for information about Narrator, the screen reader that’s included with the Windows operating system, go to Hear text aloud with Narrator.

Adjust screen reader volume when you initiate or receive a call

If you have Dolby audio controls on your computer, you may notice that the volume of the audible feedback from your screen reader decreases when you initiate or receive a call with Skype for Business. This is a known issue and is being addressed in Windows 10 for all audio-device manufacturers. However, until the fix is implemented for all devices, you can eliminate this volume decrease by using either of the following two methods:

  • Attach external USB speakers.Non-USB speakers use your device’s built-in audio with the Dolby driver. Attach external USB speakers to your device, instead of using your device’s built-in speakers or speakers plugged into the headphone jack.

  • Disable the Dolby feature of the audio driver. To disable the Dolby feature, perform the following steps:

    1. In Windows 10, go to the Control Panel and open the Sound settings.

    2. In the Sound settings dialog box, select the Playback tab and then select your audio device.

    3. Select the Properties button, and then, in the Properties dialog box, select the Dolby tab and turn off the Dolby feature. Select the OK button.

    4. In the Sound settings dialog box, select the OK button.

Use keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts enable people with disabilities to operate apps by using the keyboard rather than the mouse. The following are some frequently used keyboard shortcuts for Skype for Business:

  • To show or hide the menu bar in the top row of the Skype for Business UI, press Alt. With the menu bar shown and immediately after pressing Alt, to open any menu, press the letter that’s underlined in the name of the menu (often the first letter). Then, to open one of the items on the menu, press the letter that’s underlined in the name of the menu item (often the first letter). For example, to open the Options menu item on the Tools menu, press Alt+T+O.

  • To move forward through the elements of the Skype for Business UI, press the Tab key, or to move back, press Shift+Tab. To move between some elements, you may need to use the arrow keys.

  • To initiate any type of communication with a contact, select the contact and then press Enter to open a separate communication window.

For more information on the keyboard shortcuts specifically for Skype for Business, go to Keyboard shortcuts for Skype for Business.

Turn on teletypewriter (TTY) mode in Skype for Business

If you are deaf, have limited hearing, or have difficulty speaking, and you use a teletypewriter (TTY) device, to turn on TTY mode in Skype for Business, perform the following steps:

  1. From the menu bar, select Tools > Options or press the Options button.

  2. Select the Phones tab, and then, in the Phone accessibility area, select the Turn on TTY mode check box.

  3. Select the OK button.

If you want to change the size of text displayed in conversations, perform the following steps:

  • In a conversation window, select the More Options button.

  • Select the IM Text Display Size menu item.

  • Select the text display size you want.

    Note: This changes the text size on your screen but not the size of the text in the message that you send.

Operate Skype for Business with speech recognition

Speech recognition tools are helpful for people who have limited mobility and who need to use voice commands (rather than the keyboard or mouse) to operate Microsoft products, including Skype for Business.

You can use third-party speech recognition tools or the functionality called Speech Recognition, which is included with the Windows operating system. To enable Speech Recognition on your computer, refer to Use Speech Recognition.

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.

See also

Get started using a screen reader with Skype for Business

Make or receive a call using Skype for Business with a screen reader

Share your screen using Skype for Business with a screen reader

Skype for Business on Mac

Use the Skype for Business on Mac accessibility features to easily join online meetings, share your screen, and chat to your contacts. You can use keyboard shortcuts and a screen reader to work with Skype for Business on Mac.

Notes: 

In this topic

Use VoiceOver screen reader

Skype for Business on Mac works with the built-in screen reader VoiceOver. When VoiceOver is on, you hear a spoken description of whatever you select or activate on your device. This includes commands, locations, lists, and buttons, in addition to the contents of Skype for Business on Mac screens, menus, and pop-up windows. For details, refer to Get started using a screen reader with Skype for Business. To learn more about VoiceOver, refer to Vision Accessibility for Mac.

To turn on VoiceOver, on the keyboard, press Command+F5. You hear: “VoiceOver on Skype for Business, Skype for Business-window, main navigation, group has keyboard focus”.

Use keyboard shortcuts

With VoiceOver turned on, make sure Quick Nav is on, too. The Control and Option keys are called the “VoiceOver keys,” or “Control+Option keys”. To enter VoiceOver commands, press and hold the Control+Option keys, along with one or more other keys. In this topic, the actual key names are used instead of Control+Option.

  • To navigate around the main window, press the Control+Option+arrow keys.

  • To interact with items, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow.

  • To select and deselect an item, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  • To exit items, press Control+Option+Shift+Up arrow.

  • To browse within menus or lists, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow key, and then, to make a selection, press Enter.

  • To exit a menu or a list, press Esc.

  • To access the menu bar, press Control+Option+M. You hear: “Menu bar, Apple”.

For more details, see Keyboard shortcuts in Skype for Business.

To learn more about Mac accessibility shortcuts, go to Mac accessibility shortcuts.

To learn more about the VoiceOver commands, see Commands and Gestures.

Use Siri

Siri can help you, for example, turn on and off VoiceOver and invert colors. Siri is integrated with VoiceOver, so you can ask it to find a message and hear the answer read out loud.

To learn how Siri can help you on your Mac (Sierra), go to Use Siri on your Mac.

To launch Siri, press and hold Command and then press Spacebar.

Explore the Skype for Business on Mac User Interface

Area of the UI

First column: Main navigation group

Second column: a pane that lists the items related to each main item on the navigation group

Third column: a pane showing the details of the item selected in the second column.

Elements of the Skype for Business on Mac UI

  • My profile popup button:

    • Modify your availability info

    • Write a personalized status message

  • Chats button

  • Meetings button

  • Calls button

  • Contacts button

  • Chats:

    • Search for chats

    • A list of IMs

  • Meetings:

    • Upcoming meetings

  • Calls

    • All calls option

    • Missed calls option

    • Saved calls (if you have any

    • Voicemails option (depending on your settings)

  • Contacts

    • Search for Contacts

    • Favorite Contacts group

    • New Group (if you don’t have custom groups set up)

    • Other Contacts group

  • See the details of instant messages, calls, contacts, and meetings.

  • Join meetings when you have selected a meeting.

By default, Skype for Business on Mac starts on Contacts tab selected, and the focus is on Search for Contacts.

Use Item Chooser

To easily navigate around Skype for Business, you can also use VoiceOver Item Chooser. To activate Item Chooser, press Control+Option+I. You hear: “Item Chooser-menu.” Then use the arrow keys to move in the menu and listen to the content.

Go to Skype for Business preferences

Press Command+, (Comma). You hear: “Preferences, General.” Then navigate around the window to listen to the options.

Display conversations in separate windows

By default, Skype for Business on Mac shows all instant message (IM) conversations of a contact in the same window pane as the main app. However, you may prefer to manage conversations when they are in a separate window.

  1. In the Skype for Business preferences, the General tab is selected by default. You hear: “General, selected, button.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  2. Press Tab until you hear “Show Conversations in Separate Windows, unchecked check box.” To select the option, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

Turn on sounds for incoming messages and calls

Sound effects for incoming messages notify you of a new instant message or an incoming call.

  1. In the Skype for Business preferences, press the Left or Right arrow key, or Tab until you hear: “Notifications, selected, button.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  2. Press the Left or Right arrow key, or Tab until you hear: “Play Sound related to Calls, unchecked check box.” To select the option, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  3. Press the Left or Right arrow key, or Tab until you hear: “Play Sounds related to Messages, unchecked check box.” To select the option, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

    Tip: If you don’t want to display notifications when you’re sharing your screen, Press the Left or Right arrow key, or Tab until you hear: “Stop Notifications while Sharing Screen, unchecked check box.” To select the option, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

Turn on Text Telephone Mode (TTY) mode in Skype for Business

You use your Text Telephone Mode (TTY) device with Skype for Business.

  1. In the Skype for Business preferences, press the Left or Right arrow key, or Tab until you hear: “Call, selected, button”. Then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  2. Press the Left or Right arrow key, or Tab until you hear: ”Turn on Text Telephone (TTY) Mode, unchecked check box.” To select the option, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

Navigate to accessibility settings

Navigate to the accessibility settings and preferences to check which options are available and to modify them to suit your needs.

  1. To open Accessibility Options for Mac, press Option+Command+F5. You hear: “Application, Accessibility Options-window.” A list of accessibility shortcuts opens.

  2. Press the arrow keys or Tab to navigate the list items.

  3. Press Spacebar or Control+Option+Spacebar to select or deselect items.

  4. To view and modify further accessibility settings, press the arrow keys or Tab until you hear: “Preferences-button.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar. You hear: “System preferences, accessibility, window, toolbar.”

  5. Use the Control+Option+arrow keys to navigate the preferences.

Change view size, colors, and contrast

To get a close-up view of your current view, you can zoom in, or, to see more of the page at a reduced size, zoom out. You can also increase contrast or invert colors in the view, to make the content easier to read, select, and understand.

Note: To use the keyboard shortcuts, you might need to turn on the options to increase contrast and invert colors using keyboard in Accessibility Options on your Mac. Or you may want to ask Siri to help you.

Zoom in and out

  1. To enable zooming, go to Accessibility Options, and then press the Down arrow until you hear: “Enable zoom, unchecked check box.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar. Zoom is now enabled.

  2. 2. To zoom, do one of the following:

    • To zoom in, press Option+Command+Equal Sign (=).You hear: “Zoom, <zoom in factor>.”

    • To zoom out press Option+Command+Hyphen Sign (-).You hear: “Zoom, <zoom out factor>.

Invert display colors

  1. To invert colors, go to Accessibility Options, and then press the Down arrow or Tab until you hear: “Invert display colors, unchecked check box.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

Increase contrast

  1. To increase color contrast on your display, go to Accessibility Options. Press the Down arrow key or Tab until you hear: “Preferences-button.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar. You hear: “System preferences, accessibility, window, toolbar.”

  2. Press Control+Option+arrow keys until you hear: “Accessibility features, toolbar, General selected.” To select the toolbar, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow.

  3. Press the Down arrow until you hear: “Display.” Then press Control+Option+Shift+Up arrow.

  4. Press the VO+arrow keys until you hear: “Increase contrast, unchecked check box.” Then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  5. Press the Down arrow key until you hear: “<Current contrast percentage>, Display Contrast, slider.” To access the slider, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow key. You hear: “In slider.”

  6. To increase or decrease the contrast, press the Right or Left arrow keys. You hear the contrast percentage. To exit the slider, press Control+Option+Shift+Up arrow key. You hear: “Out of slider.”

See also

Keyboard shortcuts in Skype for Business

FAQ - Skype for Business on Mac

Skype for Business help

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