Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Let Go of That Mouse, Navigate with the Keyboard

Sighted people often wonder how blind and visually impaired people get around on a computer. How do they move through menus and various programs?

Have you ever noticed the underlined letter in the title of each menu at the top of your screen? (You know, the F, E, V, etc)? Ever wonder what that was all about? I mean, there has to be a reason, right? It's not like they're underlined because it just looks cool. Well, that's how it's done. The underlined letter is the "magic key" to access the menus.

A screen reader tells the user what's represented on the screen and the user uses these keys to navigate. Here's the cool thing, it works for sighted folks too. To access a menu, simply hit the Alt key, then the letter for the menu you're trying to access. (For example, F is for the File menu, E is for the Edit menu, A is for the Table menu, etc).

Use the up and down arrows to navigate through the menu choices. (When you come to a submenu, hit the right arrow and the submenu will open. Again, use the up and down arrows to navigate through it. To get out of the submenu, simply use the left arrow).

Another way to make your choice is to simply hit the underlined letter of your menu choice. If there's a submenu available, it will open automatically.

To move from menu to menu, you can use the left and right arrow keys (when you're not on a choice with a submenu).

When you find what you're looking for, just hit the Enter key. This acts like a mouse click and starts whatever choice you've made.

If you decide you simply want out of the menus (or that you've hit the Alt key accidentally), simply hit the Esc key and you're back to the main area of the program.

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