Tips and Tricks for Using myDSS with Screen Readers


This document is intended to give you an overview of tips and tricks for navigating the myDSS system with a screen reader.  For how-tos and more general information on using myDSS, check the DSS website.  There are several shortcuts that you can use to increase your efficiency when navigating myDSS with a screen reader.  Keep in mind that when using features like find and first letter navigation to explore any webpage for the first time, you may miss important information, so it is also important to explore with arrow keys or forward and back gestures.  Also, if you are familiar with using aria regions (landmarks) to explore a page, note that myDSS does not support those at this time.  Please contact DSS if you have any questions about using any assistive technology to access myDSS or any of the content in this document.


A note to Voiceover users

The Voiceover commands in this document assume that you are using Voiceover in Mac OSX, not IOS.  Many of these commands will also work in IOS when your device is paired with a Bluetooth keyboard, but we highly recommend configuring your rotor to access headings, links, and form controls for efficient use of myDSS in a mobile context.  Note that you can configure the rotor similarly in Mac OSX.  For more information, consult the Voiceover Documentation.


Explore the page linearly

When using Jaws or NVDA, pressing the arrow keys will always allow you to explore the entire myDSS page in the familiar and intuitive way.  With Voiceover, VO Left Arrow and VO Right Arrow, (or just left and right arrow if quicknav is turned on,) will move you through the page vertically by line most of the time.  Note that there is a lot of possibly extraneous information like headers and footers when navigating this way.


Links list

If you know the link that you are looking for, or just want to explore the list of links, press insert+F7 in jaws or NVDA, or VO-i in Voiceover.  For example, on any page in the myDSS system, press one of the above keystrokes to open the links list and arrow to “My Profile” to open that section of myDSS.  In this example, you could also press “m” to jump to the “My Profile” section.  Whenever you would like to Sign Out of the system, you can use this feature to quickly do so.  Press insert+F7 or VO-I, press “s” until you hear “Sign Out” and press enter to sign out from anywhere in the myDSS system.  Also remember that you can generally press tab and shift+tab to navigate between links and form control elements.


First letter navigation

Like many webpages, by far the most efficient way to use myDSS is through the use of first letter navigation keys.  For a complete list of first letter navigation keys, consult your screen reader documentation.  Here are some useful ways to use first letter navigation to navigate myDSS.



In jaws or NVDA, press h and shift+h to move to the next and previous heading respectively.  Press VO-command-H, and VO-command-shift h to move by next and previous heading in Voiceover.  In most myDSS screens, moving to the next heading for the first time will bring you to the “Page Tabs” heading on the page.  These are the elements which always appear visually as “Tabs” on every page, and are referred to as such in other myDSS documentation.  The myDSS system is full of headings; navigating by headings is a very convenient way to find information quickly on the page.  In Jaws, press Jaws-key + f6 to bring up a list of headings and get a good overview of how the page is organized.  In NVDA, press NVDA+f7, and select headings for the same feature.  For example, after pressing one of these keys you can press “m” and “enter” to go directly to the “My Accommodations” section of the page.  This is a very useful section of myDSS; “My Accommodations” could include things like Alternate Format, Alternative Testing, or other accommodations for which you have been approved, and the links under this heading will bring you to sections of myDSS specific to those accommodations.


Form Controls

In Jaws and NVDA, you can use the f and shift+f quicknav keys to navigate to next and previous form controls respectively.  In Voiceover, use VO-command-j and VO-command-shift j for similar results.  In the myDSS Getting Started page for example, pressing f or VO-j will move focus to the first form control on the page, “Start Term*”.  (note that here “*” represents a required field.)  Press Enter or VO-down arrow to begin interacting with the dropdown and filling out the form.  Also, remember that tab and shift+tab moves focus between elements on web forms.



Once you become familiar with myDSS, remember that you can use your screen reader or web browser’s find feature to quickly jump to what you are looking for.  In Voiceover, press VO-f to open a find dialog box that searches the page and moves the Voiceover cursor focus to the search result.  In Jaws, use Jaws-Key+ctrl+f, and in NVDA, use NVDA-key+f.  (Note that in most cases the web browser’s find feature, usually activated by control or command+f is less accessible than the built-in screen reader search feature.)  For example, if you know that you have a math test scheduled and want to double-check the date, you can use one of the above commands, type “math”, and navigate until you hear the date and time for that exam.




Voiceover for mac OSX Documentation:

Voiceover for IOS documentation:

NVDA user Guide:

Jaws Screen Reader Documentation: