Zoom Meetings and JAWS

About Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing platform that is often used to conduct meetings and video conferences via the web. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux and has apps for both iPhone and Android. Best of all, it is very screen reader friendly.

Invitations to join Zoom meetings

  • Zoom meetings involve two types of users. A host, who organises the meeting in Zoom, and participants, who are invited to join the meeting.
  • Invitations to join Zoom meetings are sent via email.
  • An invitation to a Zoom meeting may require registration in order to join it.
  • If registration is required, the email will say 'Register in advance for this meeting' and a link will be provided to register.
  • If registration is not required, the email will say 'Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android' and a link will be provided to join the meeting.

Registering for a Zoom meeting

  • Clicking on an email link to register for a meeting will redirect you to a web page.
  • The web page will ask you to enter your First Name, Last Name and Email Address and then click Register.
  • After registering, a Meeting Registration Approved page loads.
  • You will also receive a confirmation email with information on how to join the meeting together with a calendar invite.

Joining a Zoom meeting

  • When the time of the meeting arrives, open either the email invite or the calendar invite and click on the link to the meeting.
  • A Launch Meeting page will open in your web browser.
  • If you haven't used Zoom before, you will need to click on the link 'download and run Zoom'. Run the Zoom installation application.
  • If you already have Zoom installed, you will be prompted to Open Zoom Meetings.
  • If you enter the meeting before the host has joined, you will see a window stating Please wait for the host to start this meeting.
  • Leave the window open during the event.

Navigating Zoom controls

  • When entering a meeting a window will open with a Zoom Meeting ID.
  • You will be prompted to choose an audio source for the meeting. If using a computer, select Join with Computer Audio.
  • Press the Alt key to show the meeting controls for the duration of the meeting.
  • Press the Alt key again if you want to hide the meeting controls during the meeting.
  • Pressing the tab key will allow you to move through the control buttons.
  • Note: sometimes the controls auto-hide, press the Alt key to show the controls.

Zoom controls

  • Enter Full screen
  • Mute/unmute
    • By default, your microphone will be muted when joining a meeting.
    • Alt+A allows you to mute and unmute the microphone.
  • Audio settings
    • The allows you to select a microphone for capturing your audio or select a speaker for hearing audio.
    • You can also test your speaker and microphone.
  • Stop/Start my Video
  • Video Settings
    • This allows you to select a camera for capturing your video.
    • You can also choose a Virtual Background which will add a background behind your head. This can be useful if you are joining a meeting from home.
  • Invite
  • Open Participants Panel
    • This allows the meeting host to mute and unmute participants.
  • Share
    • This allows you to choose which computer window you want to share.
    • Clicking on this button will launch a popup window which says 'Select a window or a application that you want to share'
    • Clicking the tab key will take you to a set of 3 tabs: basic, advanced and files. You can move between the tabs using the left and right arrow keys. For typical screen sharing, select the Basic tab.
    • After selecting the basic tab, pressing the tab key will move focus to a sharing options list box. You can move between the options using the left, right, up and down arrows. For  basic screen sharing, select 'Share you entire screen'.
    • After selecting the screen you ant to share, press tab to move to the share sound check box. This will share your computer audio, including the JAWS output.
    • The 'Optimize for video clip' checkbox can be left unchecked.
    • Finally, click on the Share screen button to start screen sharing. The share popup window will disappear. Tip: Alt + S can be used to stop sharing.
    • Once you have successfully started screen sharing, use Alt + Tab keys to move between applications, such as your web browser or MS Word.
  • Share Option
    • By default, only one participant can share their screen at a time.
  • Open Chat Panel
    • Type a message and press enter to send.
  • Record
    • This allows you to record the meeting as an mp4 file.
    • By default, only the meeting host can record the meeting. When the meeting is being recorded, participants will see a Recording notification on screen.
    • When meeting participants click on the record button, they will see a message that says Please request recording permission from the meeting host.
  • Closed Caption
  • Breakout Rooms
  • End Meeting

Zoom keyboard shortcuts

  • F6 navigates among Zoom Windows.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift moves focus to the Zoom meeting controls.
  • Alt+A mutes and unmutes the microphone.
  • Alt+S starts of stops screen share, but the toolbar must have focus first.
  • Alt+T pauses or resumes screen share.
  • Alt+R start local recording.
  • Alt+P pause or resume recording.
  • Alt+F enters or exits full screen.
  • Alt+H displays or hides the chat panel.
  • Alt+U displays or hides the participants panel.
  • Alt+Y raises or lowers a hand.

Additional keyboard shortcuts for JAWS

JAWS speaks lots of event alerts during Zoom meetings. This is great for understanding what is going on but it can also be distracting, especially when JAWS speaks at the same time as a meeting participant. Luckily there are some keyboard shortcuts for JAWS which allow us to control alerts and to access other controls, such as chat and recording.

JAWS 2019 and 2020

  • Alt+Windows enables or disables event alerts, such as when someone has left the meeting room.
  • Alt+Windows+A repeats the last alert.
  • Insert+Tab reports if alerts are enabled or disabled.
  • Alt+R reports if recording is enabled.
  • Alt+P reports if recording is paused.
  • Control+1 through Control+0 reads out the most recent chat messages.
  • Insert+H reads out Hotkey Help.

JAWS 2016 to 2018

Yet more keyboard shortcuts

Sharing your screen

  • Move focus to the Zoom meeting controls by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift.
  • Press Tab to move through the controls until you reach the Share Screen button.
  • Press Spacebar to select a window that you want to share. The default option is to share the whole computer screen. Press Enter if you want to select the whole screen.
  • If you want to select a specific window or application, like Powerpoint, use the tab keys to move down to the Sharing List Box and then use the arrow keys to select a specific window.
  • To stop screen sharing, press Alt+S.

Chatting in a Zoom meeting

  • Zoom provides a chat window that allows participants to post text messages during that meeting.
  • Chat messages can be seen by all meeting participants.
  • Alt+H opens the chat window.
  • Focus falls automatically on the chat input field, but this isn't announced, due to a bug in Zoom. A workaround is to press tab, which will take you out of the chat window to the Enter Full Screen button, and then Shift+Tab, which will take you back to the chat window and announce the input chat text edit field.
  • After typing a message, hit enter to send it.
  • Shift+Tab allows you to navigate to the messages in the chat window.
  • Up and down arrows allow you to navigate through the list of messages.
  • Alt+H closes the chat window.

Audio settings

  • Tab through the Zoom controls to reach the Audio settings button.
  • Use the spacebar to open the settings menu.
  • A list of available microphones and speakers will be displayed.
  • The audio settings sub menu allows you to test your speakers and microphone. It also allows you to Automatically join audio by computer when joining a meeting.
  • Press escape to exit the audio settings dialog box.

Video settings and Virtual Backgrounds

  • Tab through the Zoom controls to reach the Video Settings button.
  • Use the spacebar to open the settings menu.
  • A list of available cameras will be displayed.
  • The Choose Virtual Background sub menu allows you to choose an image or video as a virtual background. Virtual backgrounds work by identifying parts of the video that aren't moving, i.e. the background, and replacing them.  This can be useful if you are joining a meeting from home and don't want to worry about what is in the background.
  • The amount of lighting in the room is important when using a virtual background. If the room is too dark, the background image will break up; if there is too much light behind you, your face will be dark; if there is too much light in front of you, your face will appear overly bright.
  • A good way to ensure even lighting is by having the lights in the room turned on and a light source pointed towards your face.
  • If you are still having trouble with the background image, you could try hanging a colored sheet behind you and selecting the I have a green screen checkbox.
  • Press escape to exit the video settings dialog box.

Common problems

How can I tell if my video and audio are working?

  • Open the Zoom desktop app.
  • Tab through the interface, until you find the Setting button, and then click on it.
  • A Settings dialog box will open.
  • Press tab to access the settings menu, then use the arrow keys to move down to Audio.
  • Select Audio.
  • Here you will be able to test your speaker and microphone.
  • Once you are finished press Escape to close the Settings dialog.

I can hear audio in the Zoom meeting, but I can't hear JAWS. What's happening?

Screen readers work by reading out what is going on with the computer operating system and programs. Video conferencing, on the other hand, tries to use what is going on outside of the computer, such as the microphone, speakers and webcam.

Zoom will automatically select a microphone, webcam and speakers. If you are using headphones or a bluetooth headset, Zoom will treat it as a speaker. If it selects the wrong output device, you can find that the speakers or headphones don't work.

There are two ways to set the speaker in Zoom.

  1. Choosing a speaker before entering a Zoom meeting
    • Open the Zoom app
    • Press tab to access the settings menu, then use the arrow keys to move down to Audio.
    • Select Audio.
    • Next to Speaker, try selecting Same as System.
  2. Choosing a speaker in a meeting.
    • On the app click New Meeting.
    • Once the meeting starts, check that you can move focus to the meeting controls by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift.
    • Tab until you get to the Audio sub menu.
    • Open the Audio sub menu.
    • Use the arrow keys to move down the list.
    • Under the settings for the speaker, try selecting Same as System.

Further Information

Contact Us

For accessibility problems please contact:

Andrew Normand
Web Accessibility Lead
Email: anormand@unimelb.edu.au
Phone: +61 3 9035 4867

For all other enquiries contact: