Use a screen reader with Slack

The screen reader experience is built upon our keyboard accessibility shortcuts. All sections and elements of the app are labeled for simple navigation. Screen readers can also recognize autocomplete, starred or pinned messages, and relay message actions (e.g. react, reply).

Screen reader actions

Variation among screen readers might change how you navigate and take action in Slack. The steps below cover the basics of using a screen reader with Slack.

🗺 Top-level navigation

The Slack app is composed of seven top-level sections: channel sidebar, workspace menu, channel header, search field, message window, message field, and right sidebar.

You can navigate these sections by heading name. Or, jump to the next section using the shortcut F6 in the desktop app, and controlF6 for Windows/Linux (CmdF6 for Mac) when using Slack in a web browser.

 

📖 Read messages

The message window for your current channel is the main section, and is labeled with the name of the channel. Here's how to read the list of messages:

Virtual Navigation

Focus Navigation

In virtual navigation, each message is a list item, and message actions each have a button.

  1. Press F6 to move to the message window. 
  2. Press i to navigate between individual messages.

Note: The virtual cursor will usually jump to the first list item, which could be an older message. For this reason, we suggest reading messages in focus navigation to start with the most up-to-date messages.

  1. Press F6 to move to the message window. 
  2. Press  or  to navigate between individual messages.
    Or use any of these keys:

    Page up (Windows) or (Mac) to move up.
    Page down(Windows) or (Mac) to move down.
    Home (Windows) or fn (Mac) to go to the oldest message.
    End (Windows) or fn (Mac) to go to the most recent.

    Spacebar to scroll through messages.

 

🔄 Switch to a channel or DM

All of your channels and direct messages are listed in the channel sidebar section as a landmark with a corresponding heading. These second-level elements help to quickly navigate between conversations.

Virtual Navigation

Focus Navigation

  1. Press F6 to move to the channel sidebar. 
  2. Press i to navigate to the channel or DM.
  3. Press Enter to make a selection.
  1. Press F6 to move to the channel sidebar. 
  2. Press Tab to navigate to the channel or DM.
  3. Press Enter to make a selection.

Tip: CmdK (Mac) or CtrlK (Windows/Linux) is the fastest way to switch between channels and DMs. Read How to use the Quick Switcher.

 

🔔 Access your notifications

To receive notifications when using a screen reader, download the Slack app for your desktop and enable desktop notifications.

You can also access Activity to find your @mentions and emoji reactions:

Virtual Navigation

Focus Navigation

  1. Press F6 to move to the channel header. 
  2. Press i to move to the Activity button and press Return.
  3. Press Tab to move your focus to different actions under Activity.
  4. Press and to read messages in chronological order.
  1. Press F6 to move to the channel header. 
  2. Press Tab to move to the Activity button and press Enter.
  3. Press Tab to move your focus to different actions under Activity.
  4. Press and to read messages in chronological order.

Tip: You can also use the keyboard shortcut CtrlShiftM to access Activity.

 

Keyboard shortcuts with screen readers

The Slack app is compatible with standard keyboard accessibility, but we know Tab navigation can be tedious. That's why we offer keyboard shortcuts for faster navigation.

To view all keyboard shortcuts, navigate to the  three vertical dots icon in the channel header section and press Enter, or use the shortcut control (Ctrl/control)/.

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