Use a screen reader to send an Instant Message in Skype for Business

Use a screen reader to send an Instant Message in Skype for Business

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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 Skype for Business with your keyboard and Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to send an instant message (IM) to anyone who has a Skype for Business account.

Notes: 

In this topic

Send a message to one person

  1. To launch Skype for Business, press the Windows logo key, type Skype for Business, and press Enter.

    The focus is initially in the Find Someone search box.

  2. Type a person's name or email address. In Narrator, when a name matches your search string, you hear: "Search results, pane updated."

  3. To move through the search results, press the Down arrow key. You hear the names of the contacts.

  4. To send an IM to a selected contact, press Enter. This opens a list of options for that contact.

  5. You hear: "Send an IM button." Press Enter to open an IM chat window with that contact.

  6. You hear the person's name or email address, and their current status. The focus is on the Chat Input field. To send your message, type your text and press Enter.

    Tip: If an IM recipient has a Skype for Business account but their status is anything other than "Available," they may not respond instantly, or the message may go to their email or Conversation History if they are not currently online.

Send a message to multiple people

You can have a conversation with two or more people at once.

  1. Repeat steps 1-5 as described in Send a message to one person, above.

  2. To invite other contacts to join the conversation, press Alt+V, or Tab until you hear “Invite More People button,” and then press Enter. A new window opens with the focus on the edit field.

  3. Type a name or use the Down arrow key to select a name on the list.

  4. Press Tab until you hear "OK button," and then press Enter to add the person to the conversation.

  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have invited everyone you want.

When you send a message now, it is sent to everyone you have selected.

Send files in an IM

When you have an IM conversation window open, you can send any kind of a file to the other person.

Tip: When you are in a meeting or a multi-person IM conversation, the files are sent to everyone in that meeting or conversation.

  1. To navigate to the Choose File to Send button, press the Tab key until you hear: “Choose file to send.”

  2. To open the File Select dialog box, press Spacebar. You hear: “Send a file to all participants.”

  3. Navigate through the File Select dialog box and select the file(s) you wish to send.

    Tip: You can send a text response, or you can send a file, but you cannot send both at the same time. If you have text in the Message field that has not been sent, that text will be lost when you send a file.

  4. When you’ve selected the file(s) you want to send, select the Open button and press Enter.

See also

Use a screen reader to add people to your contacts in Skype for Business

Use a screen reader to make or receive a call in Skype for Business

Keyboard shortcuts in Skype for Business

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Skype for Business using accessible features

Use Skype for Business for Mac with your keyboard and VoiceOver, the built-in Mac OS screen reader, to send an instant message (IM) to anyone who has a Skype for Business or Skype account.

Notes: 

Send a message to one person

  1. Launch Skype for Business for Mac, then press Tab until you hear: "Search for contacts, search text field."

  2. Type in a person’s name or an email address. VoiceOver announces the number of persons found.

  3. Press Tab to move on to the search results table.

  4. Use the Down and Up arrow key to navigate the search results. VoiceOver announces the names and availability statuses as you go through the list.

  5. When on a contact, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow to allow item selection.

  6. Press Tab until you hear VoiceOver announce the Chat button.

  7. To open an IM chat window, press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  8. The focus is now on a text field and you can start writing your message. To send the message, press Enter.

  9. You hear a sound when a new chat message arrives. To listen to the messages in the chat:

    1. To go to the chat area above, you need to leave the text message field. To leave, press Control+Option+Left arrow until you hear "Chat history, table."

    2. To enter the table, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow. VoiceOver reads the first message on the thread.

    3. To continue listening to messages, press Control+Option+Down arrow.

    4. To exit the chat history table, press Control+Option+Shift+Up arrow.

    5. To return to the IM text field for writing messages, press Control+Option+Right arrow until you hear “Type a message here, edit text.”

See also

Use a screen reader to add people to your contacts in Skype for Business

Use a screen reader to make or receive a call in Skype for Business

Keyboard shortcuts in Skype for Business

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Skype for Business using accessible features

Important: This section is a work in progress. Some of the content may be incomplete or inaccurate at this time. Please check back soon for the completed article. Thanks!

Use VoiceOver, the built-in iOS screen reader, to send instant messages (IM) from Skype for Business on your iPhone. You can chat with only one person, or have an IM conversation with multiple people.

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 iOS screen reader, VoiceOver. To learn more about using VoiceOver, visit Apple accessibility.

  • This topic assumes that you are using an iPhone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an iPad.

In this topic

Send a message to one person

  1. Open Skype for Business on your iPhone and sign in, if necessary. For sign-in help, refer to Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business.

  2. In the Skype for Business main view, swipe right until you hear the option you want to use for finding the person:

    • The Contacts button is useful if the person you want to chat with is added to one of your contact groups already. To open Contacts, double-tap the screen. To browse, swipe right. To open a contact group, double-tap the screen.

    • The Search for contacts search field allows you to search for any person available in your organization's Skype for Business, or even Skype, if Skype search is allowed by your organization. To use the search, double-tap the screen. Then use the on-screen keyboard to type the person's name. To execute the search, swipe right on the keyboard until you hear "Search," and double-tap the screen. To browse the list of people, swipe right or left.

    • The Recent list shows the contacts you've been in touch most recently. To browse through the list, swipe right.

  3. When the focus is on the person you want to chat with, double-tap the screen. The chat view opens.

  4. Swipe right repeatedly until you hear "Type a message here," and double-tap the screen. The on-screen keyboard appears, and you can type your message.

  5. To send the message, swipe left until you hear "Send message, button," and double-tap the screen. You hear: "Message sent. Type a message here." The focus remains in the text insertion field and you can continue typing another message.

    VoiceOver reads any replies as they arrive in the chat.

Send a message to multiple people

To start a conversation with multiple people, first open a chat with one person and then add participants to the chat.

  1. While in a chat with a person, swipe left until you hear the name of the person followed by "button," and double-tap the screen. A list of options opens.

  2. Swipe right until you hear "Add participants, button," and double-tap the screen.

  3. You hear: "Search for contacts, text field." The focus is in the search field. You can either use the search to find a person, or browse through your contacts in the current view:

    • To use the search for finding the person you want to add, double-tap the screen. Type the person's name using the on-screen keyboard. When done, swipe left until you hear the person's name on the list of results.

    • To browse through your contact list in this view, swipe right repeatedly until you hear the person you want to add.

  4. When the focus is on the person you want to add to the conversation, double-tap the screen. The person is added to the conversation, and the focus is on the Back button in the chat view.

  5. To move to the text input field, swipe right repeatedly until you hear: "Type a message here, text field." Double-tap the screen. The on-screen keyboard appears, and you can type your message.

  6. To send the message, swipe left until you hear "Send message, button," and double-tap the screen. You hear: "Message sent. Type a message here." The focus remains in the text insertion field and you can continue typing another message.

    VoiceOver reads any replies as they arrive in the chat.

See also

Use a screen reader to manage your contacts in Skype for Business

Use a screen reader to make or receive a call in Skype for Business

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Skype for Business using accessible features

Important: This section is a work in progress. Some of the content may be incomplete or inaccurate at this time. Please check back soon for the completed article. Thanks!

Use TalkBack, the built-in Android screen reader, to send instant messages (IM) from Skype for Business for Android. You can chat with only one person, or have an IM conversation with multiple people.

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 Android screen reader, TalkBack. To learn more about using TalkBack, go to Android accessibility.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with an Android phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an Android tablet.

In this topic

Send a message to one person

  1. Open Skype for Business on your phone and sign in, if necessary. For sign-in help, refer to Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business.

  2. In the Skype for Business main view, swipe right until you hear the option you want to use for finding the person:

    • The Contacts button is useful if the person you want to chat with is added to one of your contact groups already. To open Contacts, double-tap the screen when you hear: "View contacts and contact management screen." To browse, swipe right. To open a contact group, double-tap the screen.

    • The Search field allows you to search for any person available in your organization's Skype for Business directory. To use the search, double-tap the screen when you hear: "Search in the company directory." Then use the on-screen keyboard to type the person's name. The search is performed while you type and TalkBack announces the number of results. To browse the list of people, swipe right.

    Tip: If you've been in touch with people using Skype for Business for Android, the Recent list in the Skype for Business main view shows these contacts. To browse through the list, swipe right. To quickly send a message to a person on the list, just double-tap the screen. The chat opens with the focus is in the text input field. Double-tap the screen to bring up the on-screen keyboard and type your message.

  3. When the focus is on the person you want to chat with, double-tap the screen. The contact card opens.

  4. Swipe right repeatedly until you hear "Chat button," and double-tap the screen. The on-screen keyboard appears, and you can type your message.

  5. To send the message, swipe right until you hear "Send chat message, button," and double-tap the screen. You hear: "Message sent." The focus remains in the text insertion field and you can continue typing another message.

    TalkBack reads any replies as they arrive in the chat.

Send a message to multiple people

To start a conversation with multiple people, first open a chat with one person and then add participants to the chat.

  1. While in a chat with a person, swipe left until you hear "More options, button," and double-tap the screen. A list of options opens.

  2. You hear: "Item 1 of 3, Add participants." Double-tap the screen.

  3. You hear: "Editing, search people, edit box. Search in the company directory." The focus is in the search field. You can either use the search to find a person, or browse through your contacts in the current view:

    • To use the search for finding the person you want to add, type the person's name using the on-screen keyboard. When done, swipe right until you hear the person's name on the list of results.

    • To browse through your contact list in this view, swipe right repeatedly until you hear the person you want to add.

  4. When the focus is on the person you want to add to the conversation, double-tap the screen. The person is added to the conversation, and the focus is in the text input field in the chat view.

  5. Type your message using the on-screen keyboard.

  6. To send the message, swipe right until you hear "Send chat message, button," and double-tap the screen. You hear: "Message sent." The focus remains in the text insertion field and you can continue typing another message.

    TalkBack reads any replies as they arrive in the chat.

See also

Use a screen reader to manage your contacts in Skype for Business

Use a screen reader to make or receive a call in Skype for Business

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Skype for Business using accessible features

Use Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to send an instant message (IM) from Skype for Business in Outlook on the web. Sending messages is a snap because you can access the Skype for Business conversations pane right from Outlook on the web.

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 Microsoft Edge as your web 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 Outlook on the web.

  1. Open Outlook on the web in your browser and, if necessary, sign in.

  2. Press the Tab key until you hear “Use the Down arrow to use the Skype for Business conversations pane,” and then press the Down arrow key. The Skype for Business conversations pane opens with the focus on the All contacts list, and you hear: “Contacts, All contacts, <Contact names>.”

    In the upper-right corner of the pane, the Search Skype, Contacts, and New Chat buttons are available. In the lower-right corner of the pane, the Turn off chat notifications button is available.

  3. To find out who’s online, press the Tab key until you hear “Online, Link,” and then press Enter.

  4. To move to the first contact in the list, press the Tab key.

  5. Press the Down arrow key until you hear the name of the person you want to send an instant message to, and then press Enter. You hear: “Chat input, Conversations with <contact’s name> editable combo box.”

  6. Type your message and press Enter. The IM is sent and it is added to the Conversations with contact’s name pane. Responses to your message are also added to that pane. To reply to a contact’s response, type a new message in the edit combo box and press Enter.

See also

Use a screen reader to manage your contacts in Skype for Business

Keyboard shortcuts in Outlook on the web

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Skype for Business

Learn how to navigate Skype for Business 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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