For using a screen reader, one must know how to use some basic keyboard commands. Each screen reader has a different set of keyboard shortcuts, and the list of all available keystrokes is pretty long.
The good news is that with these basic keystrokes, you can do most of the important things you need to do while testing the accessibility of web content.
Blind screen reader users use the keyboard only
Why don’t blind people use a mouse?
The simple answer of this question, because they can’t see where the mouse pointer is.
This is the reason blind computer users use the keyboard instead, a mouse simply isn’t very useful nor an option for them.
Definitely, there are groups of people who may use a mouse with a screen reader, like people with low vision, or people with reading disabilities. Still, the largest group of screen reader users is blind.
Everything must be keyboard-accessible
- Blind computer users must be able to tab to all controls (links, buttons, form elements, etc.).
- Users must be able to activate all buttons with the enter key and the space bar.
- Mouse hover features must have equivalent keyboard event handlers.
- When items are hidden from sighted users (such as drop-down menus), users must not be able to tab to the hidden items (they must be unavailable to the keyboard until activated by the user or by the script).
- When a popup dialog appears, the keyboard focus must go to the dialog. When the dialog closes, the focus must go back to the original control that activated it (or to another logical location if that control is no longer available or is not the best location).
- The tab order through controls must be logical.