Accessibility in Skype for Business Online

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.

  • For more information about accessibility features available for other apps in Office 365, refer to Accessibility in Office 265.

  • 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.

Enable accessibility options for conversations in Skype for Business

Skype for Business includes accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities to work with conversations. For example, you can turn on sounds that alert you to incoming messages, display conversations in separate windows, and change the font face, size, and color of the text displayed in conversations.

Turn on sounds that alert you to incoming messages

When a conversation is in your active window and you receive a new message, by default, JAWS doesn’t play a notification sound. If you want Skype for Business to play a sound when you receive a message while you are conversing, perform the following steps:

  • In Skype for Business, to show or hide the menu bar in the top row of the window, press Alt. When the menu bar is shown, you hear “Menu.” With the menu bar shown and immediately after pressing Alt, to open the Tools menu and then the Options dialog box, press T+O. You hear “General,” which is the first tab in the navigation pane in the dialog box.

  • In the Options dialog box, in the navigation pane, to move the focus to the Ringtones and Sounds tab, press the Down Arrow key until you hear “Ringtones and Sounds.”

  • To move the focus to the Ringtones and Sounds settings in the dialog box, press the Tab key.

  • To move the focus to the Play Sounds (including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts) check box and toggle the setting on or off, press Alt+P. You hear “Play sounds, including ringtones for incoming calls and IM alerts, Check box.” Turn on the setting. When the check box is selected, you also hear “Checked.”

  • To move the focus to the Mute incoming IM alert sounds when viewing an IM conversation check box and toggle the setting on or off, press Alt+I. You hear “Sounds, Mute incoming IM alert sounds when viewing an IM conversation, Check box.” Turn off the setting. When the check box is not selected, you also hear “Not checked.”

  • To move the focus to the OK button, press the Tab key until you hear “OK button” and then press Spacebar.

Display conversations in separate windows

By default, all conversations in Skype for Business are in the same window but each conversation is shown in a separate tab. If you want to manage conversations in separate windows, perform the following steps:

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

  • Select the IM tab, and then clear the Enable tabbed conversations check box.

  • Select the OK button.

Change the size of text displayed in conversations

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 have 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 use Office 365 for Business, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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