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Use ScreenReader on Windows & MacOS in Live

Use the ScreenReader feature on Windows & MacOS platforms in Live.

Introduction

Accessibility testing has emerged as an important subarea in manual testing requirements for websites. This is largely due to renewed focus on making information technology accessible to all, and legislations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the US.

Accessibility in technology refers to designing and building technology in a manner that it is accessible by all, regardless of the type and degree of disability. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provides a set of guidelines based on which websites can be designed and tested with a focus on accessibility. These guidelines aim to make web content acessible to people with a wide range of disabilities including physical, visual, or auditory disablities.

One important subset of accessibility testing is to test if people with visual disabilities can navigate and use a website by using just a keyboard. This is captured by the following guidelines of the WCAG Quick Reference Guide:

  • Text alternatives for non-textual content: Textual descriptions of content which are primarily oriented for visual consumption, such as pictures or graphics.
  • Keyboard accessibility & navigability: Website content is in logical order, all elements are accessible, navigable, users are able to find required content, and determine where they are on a page using just the keyboard.

To manually test website accessibility for persons with visual impairments, testers must use a screen reader for auditory navigation instead of relying solely on visual feedback.

Live now provides a Screen Reader feature for desktop (Windows & MacOS) sessions, which allows you to test non-visual navigation and usability of your websites.

Enable ScreenReader for Windows & MacOS sessions in Live

Note: The ScreenReader feature on Windows & MacOS in Live is only supported on the following OS version-browser combinations:
  • Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Yandex, and Edge (17.0 and above) on Windows 10.
  • Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Yandex, and Edge (v17 onwards) on Windows 11.
  • Chrome and Safari on MacOS Catalina, BigSur, Monterey, and Ventura.
Note: The ScreenReader feature in Live uses NVDA as the underlying screen-reader tool for Windows & VoiceOver for MacOS sessions.
  1. Ensure audio is turned on on your system.
  2. Log in to the Live dashboard.
  3. On the Live dashboard, select the device combination to start your test session.
  4. On the Live toolbar, click Screen Reader. Accessing Screen Reader
  5. Toggle Enable ScreenReader to turn on the Screen Reader option. Toggling on Screen Reader Enabling the Screen Reader option creates an audio-verbal description for every action on the website including pointing, clicking, keyboard navigation, etc. After toggling Screen Reader

Supported NVDA shortcuts for Windows ScreenReader

NVDA is the underlying assistive tool used when the ScreenReader feature is enabled in Windows sessions in Live. Given this, NVDA shortcuts can be used for undertaking various actions supported by that tool. The following is the full list of supported NVDA shortcuts in Live:

NVDA action Live shortcut for Windows keyboard users Live shortcut for MacOS keyboard users
Toggle NVDA menu Insert + N Fn + Return + N
Move system focus to next object Tab Tab
Move system focus to the previous object Shift + Tab Shift + Tab
Start reading continuously from this point on Insert + Down Arrow Not supported
Pause speech Shift Shift
Stop speech Ctrl Control
Activate object Space Space

Accessing NVDA menu in Windows sessions

The NVDA menu can be accessed by using the following shortcuts: Insert + N (if you are using a Windows keyboard) OR Fn + Return + N (if you are using a MacOS keyboard).

The NVDA menu can be used for various purposes including:

  1. Accessing NVDA settings menu: This can be accessed from the Preferences menu
  2. Enabling the NVDA Speech Viewer tool for captioning of audio output: This can be accessed from the Tools menu

For the full range of functionality supported via the NVDA menu, check the NVDA user guide.

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