In the episode today I am going to show how to set up Skype correctly for a screen reader user.
Skype is coming with some accessibility features build-in, but needs to be activated.
Also, some other adjustments will make this useful software reasonable in terms of accessibility for blind people.
Before anything else I would like to mention about few differences between Windows Store version of Skype, and the regular executable software which is available at www.skype.com. The Windows Store version is not so good in terms of working with a screen reader as the regular one, therefore if you are invited to try it, choose NO THANKS option.
Also, Skype for Business have a totally different interface.
The version of Skype used for this demonstration is a Skype 7.38 and Jaws screen reader on Windows 10.
When the program is launched first screen will be the login one, where you can insert your Skype details, like Skype ID, your e-mail from providers as Outlook, Hotmail, and others, or your mobile phone.
Press tab and select next button in order to insert the password.
If you are logged in for the first time a wizard will come up asking you to test your speakers, mic and webcam also, you are invited to fill in your profile including a photo.
You can do this later selecting skip button.
The main page is a kind of home page where Skype displays some adds and status changes for your contacts.
Pressing tab successively the focus will be moved away from this annoying page and few buttons will be displayed as the dial keypad for telephone calls and a dropdown button for status change.
Remember, if you change the status in do not disturb or busy no incoming calls will be received. This calls will be displayed in recent tab but no ring or pop up window will appear as long you have one of this status selected.
The almost settings must be applied under option section in tools.
For this, we can press alt key, and arrowing right till tools menu and up arrow to option will place the focus where the changes must be done
in Options a tree view will appear containing multiple tabs arranged in few sections.
Mainly, we are interested in general tab, sound and few other tabs under advanced settings section.
In general I like to tick the box for the option “when I double click a friend name place a call”. If this box is not ticked in stead of calling a contact when enter is pressed, a chat dialog will come up.
Also, under general settings I wish to be sure the option “Start Skype when Windows starts” will be unchecked, just to be sure Skype will be turned on when I like.
Other options under this section remain unchanged.
Sound tab is also very important because there the sound input/output can be adjusted and the volume of speakers as well.
Untick the option “Allow Skype to adjust my microphone settings” because this feature will cause horrible noise and echo when one of the parts will keep silence for a while.
Keeping this option ticked will allow Skype to apply a kind of mic zoom in order to catch the sound in that room, and this will cause sound distortion and lots of noise.
Probably this option is useful for mobile devices or Skype calls made with poor internet connection.
But under a home broadband connection will make Skype conversation uncomfortable.
A Skype test call link is available in this section as well, if you wish to be sure your audio settings works fine.
Under advanced settings I strongly recommend to tick the last option at the bottom called enable accessibility settings. Also, two steps above we need to tick enable short keys navigation. From a dropdown list it is possible to set up a short key combination for each action.
I like to untick as well the option ” keep always Skype into the task Barr
If this option remain ticked I will have always Skype between my opened programs and this will make the alt tab process a bit too populated.
Anyway, Skype will remain opened and hidden in system tray at any time till I quit.
Apart of tools menu, it is an other one which must be adjusted, and this is the view menu.
Choose compact sidebar view under view menu and press enter.
If something is not mentioned here, please listen the audio demonstration in the podcast episode below.
In the end, please let me know what other settings you like to alter in Skype in order to work properly with your screen reader.