Screen Reader Accessibility in Blackboard Collaborate Version 12.5

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Getting Screen Reader Users Started with Blackboard Collaborate V12.5

As you prepare for the online sessions in Blackboard Collaborate V12.5 we want to ensure you have all of the resources that you need so that you are successfully up and running for your first session. Below is the information that you need as a Screen Reader User to have a great experience with Blackboard Collaborate V12.5

Java Accessibility Bridge Installation Process (Windows Users)


  1. If you are using a screen reader on a PC you will need to install the Java Accessibility Bridge prior to joining the session. It is recommended that you view the requirements of the Java Accessibility Bridge
  2. For downloading and installing the Java Accessibility Bridge go to:
    Download Java Access Bridge

Java Accessibility Bridge Installation Process (Mac Users)


  • If you are using a screen reader on a Mac you do not need to install the Java Accessibility Bridge as it is already pre-installed with the Mac version of Java.

IMPORTANT FOR SCREEN READER USERS: If you encounter a Security Warning window asking you if you want to run the application, then you may:

  1. Check the checkbox labeled "Always trust content from this publisher" then hit the Tab key once. At this point the "Run" button (in Firefox, this button is labeled "Yes") should be focused. Hit Enter to launch Blackboard Collaborate V12.5 If you choose to follow this option you will not have to do this step for future sessions.
  2. Leave the checkbox unchecked and hit the Tab key once. At this point the "Run" button (in Firefox, this button is labeled "Yes") should be focused. Hit Enter to launch Blackboard Collaborate V12.5 If you choose to follow this option you will have to repeat his step in future sessions.

Figure 1: Screen shot of Security Warning pop up window as seen in Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Opera

Screen shot of Security Warning pop up window as seen in Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Opera

Figure 2: Screen shot of Security Warning pop up window as seen in Firefox

Screen shot of Security Warning pop up window as seen in Firefox

ACTIVITY WINDOW - IMPORTANT FOR SCREEN READER AND KEYBOARD USERS: Once Blackboard Collaborate V12.5 is running, you will be able to follow all of the activities associated with this session by enabling the Activity Window. You will only need access to the audio options on your system to listen to the webinar. You will be able to ask questions and communicate with speakers through the chat area.

Navigating Blackboard Collaborate V12.5 - Instructions for the Activity Window (Windows Users)

To follow all of the activities that take place during the session (including the presentation slides) screen reader users need to enable the Activity Window. To enable the Activity Window on Windows systems press the Control key plus forward slash at the same time.

Navigating Blackboard Collaborate V12.5 - Instructions for the Activity Window (Mac Users)

To enable the Activity Window on Mac systems press the Command key plus forward slash at the same time .

By default, the Activity Window will provide feedback pertaining to ALL events taking place during the session. For example, if someone named John enters or steps away from the session the Activity Window will be automatically updated to "The participant John has joined the session" and "John stepped away from the session" respectively. Likewise, if John were to click on the Applause icon, then the Activity Window will be updated with "John is applauding" or when the presenter advances the presentation slide, the content of the presentation slide will also be reflected on the Activity Window. Whenever the Activity Window is updated, all the new entries appear at the bottom of the window.

Customizing the Activity Window ( Windows Users):

As a screen reader user, it may be overwhelming to follow all the activities that are taking place. Thus, you may be interested only in a few of the activities. For instance, you may not want to know when participants are entering the room or raising their hand. To address this, you can enable/disable the activities you are interested in.

At the top of the Activity Window there are four icon menus. By default, you cannot navigate through these menus. You will need to explicitly enable navigation. To do so,on Windows systems simply press the ALT key plus F8 at the same time .

NOTE: Once you activate navigation on these menus, you will not be able to access the main content of the Activity Window. Thus, after you are finished customizing the items/events you are interested in, you will need to disable the navigation once again by pressing ALT plus F8 on Windows systems

If you are just "exploring" the available items/options within these submenus, once the list of items is activated/expanded, you can close it back without making any changes to your original selections by pressing the escape key.

After you enable navigation, tab to the third icon/menu option titled "Filter the events by the module that emitted them". Once the focus is on that icon, press the space bar to access its sub-menus. There you can enable/disable the activities that you want. For example, if you uncheck the Participants option, then you will not be notified when participants join the session. Likewise, if you uncheck the Interaction option, you will not be notified when someone is applauding. Remember, AFTER you have unchecked the events/items you are not interested in, you need to press ALT plus F8 on Windows systems so that you can disable the navigation of these menu options and then you will be able to access the main content of the Activity Window.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that whiteboard is always checked. If you uncheck it, then the Activity Window will NOT be updated with the contents of the current presentation slide.

Customizing the Activity Window ( Mac Users):

As a screen reader user, it may be overwhelming to follow all the activities that are taking place. Thus, you may be interested only in a few of the activities. For instance, you may not want to know when participants are entering the room or raising their hand. To address this, you can enable/disable the activities you are interested in.

At the top of the Activity Window there are four icon menus. By default, you cannot navigate through these menus. You will need to explicitly enable navigation. On Mac systems, press the Option key plus F8 at the same time .

NOTE: Once you activate navigation on these menus, you will not be able to access the main content of the Activity Window. Thus, after you are finished customizing the items/events you are interested in, you will need to disable the navigation once again by pressing Option plus F8 on Mac Systems .

If you are just "exploring" the available items/options within these submenus, once the list of items is activated/expanded, you can close it back without making any changes to your original selections by pressing the escape key.

After you enable navigation, tab to the third icon/menu option titled "Filter the events by the module that emitted them". Once the focus is on that icon, press the space bar to access its sub-menus. There you can enable/disable the activities that you want. For example, if you uncheck the Participants option, then you will not be notified when participants join the session. Likewise, if you uncheck the Interaction option, you will not be notified when someone is applauding. Remember, AFTER you have unchecked the events/items you are not interested in, you need to press Option plus F8 on Mac systems so that you can disable the navigation of these menu options and then you will be able to access the main content of the Activity Window.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that whiteboard is always checked. If you uncheck it, then the Activity Window will NOT be updated with the contents of the current presentation slide.

Instruction to Access Chat Options


Sending a message that will be viewed by everyone (Only available when the moderator grants Chat Room privileges)

  • Activity window must be closed in order to respond to send a message
  • Use key combination Ctrl/M to place focus into the Chat text entry area
  • Type message in this area
  • Hit enter to send the message to the public chat area for all to read

Reading Public Chat History

  • Use key combination Ctrl/M to place focus into the Chat text entry area
  • While focus is in the Chat Text Entry area use the key combination Alt/Tab
  • This puts focus in the Chat History for Room area
  • Use Up and Down arrow keys to read the public messages

Sending Private Message to Start a Conversation

  • Use F6 to cycle to the Participant list
  • Use Up and Down arrow keys to select individual to send private message
  • Hit the space bar
  • A Chat Text Entry area will open
  • Type message in this area
  • Hit enter to send the private message to the individual

Reading Private Messages

  • Use key combination Ctrl/M to place focus into the Chat text entry area
  • Tab twice to get to list of conversations
  • Use Left and Right arrow keys to select conversation you wish to read
  • Hit the space bar when on desired conversation
  • Hitting the space bar places focus into the Chat Text Entry area for the conversation
  • Use key combination Alt/Tab to place focus on Chat History for this conversation
  • Use Up and Down arrow keys to read all messages sent and received in this conversation

Responding to Private Message

  • Activity window must be closed in order to respond to a message
  • Tab once from Chat History for Conversation area
  • This places focus in the Chat Text Entry area for the Conversation
  • Type message in this area
  • Hit enter to send the private message to the individual

Returning to Public Chat History

  • Use key combination Ctrl/M to place focus into the Chat text entry area
  • Tab twice to get to list of conversations
  • Use Left and Right arrow keys to select Public conversation
  • Hit the space bar when on Public Conversation
  • While focus is in the Chat Text Entry area use the key combination Alt/Tab
  • This puts focus in the Chat History for Room area
  • Use Up and Down arrows to read the public messages

Instructions to Access Polling Options

To participate in polling using a screen reader in Elluminate you have to options to participate. If the activity window is open it will need to be closed before participating in the polling. The activity window can be closed by using the keystroke combination of alt+F4 .

In Elluminate, to use the polling feature, perform the keystroke combination of ctrl+1 to vote Yes and ctrl+2 to vote No . Similarly for multiple choice questions, the keystroke combination for A is ctrl+1, B is ctrl+2, C is ctrl+3 etc. You can also participant in voting by tab option.

To participant in the polling feature using the tab button you will need to start with the cursor focus in the participant table. Then tab 6 times from the participant table. The cursor will land on the "Yes" polling option. To select "Yes" select the space bar. To unselect "Yes" select the space bar. To choose "No" tab once more and select the space bar. To unselect "No" select the space bar.

Using the Drop down Menu to access the Polling Option

To use the drop down menu perform the keystroke combination of alt+T to open the tools menu. Arrow down until you hear the "Polling" option and select enter. Using the up and down arrow keys either "Yes" or "No" may be selected. Once on the desired option select enter to make the selection.

To return to the activity window perform the keystroke combination of ctr+/. If another poll is taken later in the session the activity window will again need to be closed using the keystroke combination alt+F4.

Key Board Shortcuts and Hot Keys for Blackboard Collaborate Version 12.5

Click to display or hide Key Board Shortcuts and Hot Key Information

Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing offers options to navigate the system using Keyboard Commands which can be initiated via a Keyboard and/or through Speech Recognition Software (i.e. Dragon Naturally Speaking, etc.)

  • The Blackboard Collaborate Web Conferencing system offers full-keyboard navigation throughout the main interface and to all secondary windows.
  • F6 provides navigation between major modules (participants window, chat, audio, whiteboard)
  • Additional shortcut/accelerator keys for key functions/interactions are available online
  • Hot Keys can be individually defined to aid in navigation tasks (Caution: Ensure you do not change a hot key definition to that of a hot key used by another application. You also should avoid key combinations that conflict with standard keyboard shortcut operations).Instructions for configuring hot keys are available online