Skip to main content

Microsoft 365 - Accessibility of Office Online

Accessibility Considerations

Office Online works online, in the browser. This makes its accessibility features work a little differently than Office desktop programs. For example, keyboard shortcuts may not be the same with Office Online as the desktop equivalent software (i.e. Word Online vs. Word 2013). However, all the keyboard shortcuts and other accessibility features that are standard with web browsers work with Office Online. You can also use the browser controls to zoom, to change text size, and to control screen colors.

Office Online provides Web Accessibility Initiative-Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) support for assistive technologies. If you use an assistive technology such as a screen reader or speech recognition software, you will have the best experience in Office Online if the assistive technology that you use supports WAI-ARIA.

Alternatives and/or Workarounds

Office Online

Since Office Online programs run in your web browser, there are slight differences with the corresponding Office desktop programs. When using Office Online, keep the following differences in mind:

  • You need to switch from Reading view to Editing view when you want to edit.
    • When you create a new document, Office Online programs open in Editing view, but when you open a file (by following a link, for example), Office Online programs open in Reading view.
    • To switch to Editing view using your keyboard:
      1. Press Tab until you get to the Edit menu.
      2. Press the Enter key.
      3. Choose the Edit in (application name) Online option.
  • Office Online programs do not have accelerator keys, so pressing and holding the Alt key does nothing.
  • Instead of F6, use Ctrl+F6 to move between the command ribbon and the content of your document.

Open with Office for desktop

Every Office Online file can be opened in its corresponding Office desktop program, by selecting Edit in (application name) from the Edit menu. To open your file with your desktop software using your keyboard:

  1. Press Tab until you get to the Edit menu.
  2. Press the Enter key.
  3. Choose the Edit in (application name) option.

Information for Content Creators

Accessible view in Word Online

To generate a view of documents in a tagged PDF format (which is available to screen readers):

  1. Open the document in Reading view.
  2. Press the Tab key to the View document in more accessible mode command.
  3. Press Enter.

Information for Content Consumers

Using screen readers

Here are some tips for using various screen readers in Office Online.

  • JAWS: Press Insert+Z to turn off Virtual PC cursor mode.
  • Windows Eyes: Press Ctrl+Shift+A to turn off Browse Mode.

Keyboard shortcuts

Link to any vendor webpages, VPATs, etc.

Get Help or Provide Feedback

OIT has partnered with Disability Services to provide assistance for accessibility issues related to OIT supported services and we want to hear from you about this service. If you need assistance using this service or you have more information about the accessibility of this service that we should share with others, please contact the IT Service Center at or at 303-735-4357