[Athen] Word form fields with JAWS

Brusnighan, Dean A. dabrus at purdue.edu
Tue Apr 2 08:25:56 PDT 2019

Thank you, Robert and Karen, for your helpful responses! I will work with the Grad School and the student to make improvements.


From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Karlen Communications
Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 10:31 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Word form fields with JAWS

The template uses Content Controls which are inherently inaccessible. While "some" progress has been made on improving their accessibility since they were introduced with Office 2007, they remain mostly inaccessible. One other issue that we often encounter with Content Controls is getting stuck in them and not being able to get out, or inadvertently leaving a Content Control without notification so we are typing in thin air.

There is a keyboard command to access the drop-down list: Alt + Shift + F12 and then use Spacebar to expand the menu. BUT JAWS does not announce that focus has moved to the arrow for the drop-down nor do you hear anything that tells you that the list is visible once you press Spacebar. You just have to use the Up and Down Arrows and have faith that what you are hearing and navigating through is the drop-down list.

Also, once you leave one of the Content Controls on the first page using Tab, it is difficult to find them again.

If I ask JAWS for a list of objects in the document, there are a mix of Text Boxes which seem to be used for captions on images and images with no Alt Text.

Captions would only be in a Text Box if Text Wrapping is used and the images are not inline...but the first example of a Text Box containing a Caption is an image that spans the page from margin to margin so there is no need for Text Wrapping. If you use Ctrl + Shift + letter O with JAWS, you'll get this list of objects in the document. You hear things like "rectangle," "shape," Text Box" and "Picture."

As with the Content Controls, while there has been progress made in the accessibility of Text Boxes, they are not fully accessible and the current versions of screen readers and Text-to-Speech come across them in a hit and miss manner...sometimes we can get focus to them automatically as we come across them but most often not.

And both the improved accessibility of the Content Controls and Text Boxes is NOT backward compatible! You must be using the current version of Office 365/Office 2016 or later subscription in order to take advantage of these improvements. So if a student begins working on this template in a current version of Office 365 subscription and wants to work on it at home or on a laptop with an earlier version of Office, they will not have access to any of the accessibility improvements in the Content Controls or Text Boxes.

...and as you can see, the improved accessibility isn't quite there yet for daily use of either of these elements.

If someone gets a list of form controls in the document, included in the list are the fields for the Tables of Content, Figures, Tables, and page numbers but not the Content Controls so this method of finding them and putting focus in them is not usable.

Cheers, Karen

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Brusnighan, Dean A.
Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 9:07 AM
To: ATHEN mailing list <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Word form fields with JAWS

Good Morning!

Our Graduate School provides MS-Word templates<https://www.purdue.edu/gradschool/research/thesis/templates.html> for thesis and dissertation formatting. The templates they created make use of Word form fields. A JAWS user wants to use a template to write his dissertation, but says JAWS skips a lot of required fields.

When I opened one of the templates (attached), I found JAWS interacts with edit fields just fine. However, I'm unable to get it to read combo boxes. It will announce the name of the combo box, but it won't allow me to open the list of options to make a selection. I'm not a strong JAWS user. Is there something I'm doing wrong? Or are these fields just not accessible?



Dean Brusnighan
Assistive Technology Specialist
Purdue University
dabrus at purdue.edu<mailto:dabrus at purdue.edu>

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