Blackboard Collaborate has four levels of keyboard navigation:

Using the navigation methods described in these sections, navigate to the function you want to bring into focus. To activate that function, press Space.

If you're using the JAWS screen reader for navigating within Blackboard Collaborate, you must enable the Java Access Bridge.

Navigate between modules

When you join a Blackboard Collaborate session, the Participants panel is in focus. Press F6 to cycle keyboard focus between the main Blackboard Collaborate modules, in the following order:

  • Participants panel: Focus goes to the top name in the participants list
  • Chat panel: Focus goes to the message text box
  • Collaboration toolbar: Focus goes to the whiteboard mode button
  • Action bar: Focus goes to the new page button
  • Audio & Video panel: focus goes to the Talk button

If you change the order of the panels, the F6 navigation order will be different.

Navigate between elements

Elements are items like buttons, fields, and options. The Tab key moves you forward through the Blackboard Collaborate elements in the sequence described in the list. To move backward in the sequence, press Shift+Tab.

Within each panel or window, tabbing moves through its elements from left to right and top to bottom.

Your tabbing sequence may differ from the next list because the elements you see in the user interface depend on your permissions, including whether you're a moderator or participant.

  • Participants list: When you join a Blackboard Collaborate session, focus is on the top name in the participants list. You can move through the names in the list with the up and down arrow keys. Press Space to open the Participant Options menu for the person currently in focus.
  • Chat panel: Tab through the elements in the Chat panel: expand/collapse button, options menu, conversation pane, message text box, and conversation tabs.
  • Collaboration toolbar: Tab through the elements in the collaboration toolbar: whiteboard mode button, application sharing mode button, web tour mode button, timer elements if the timer is running, information menu, Load Content button, and Record button.
  • Action bar: Tab through the elements in the action bar for the currently selected mode or the Available Share Selection dialog for application sharing mode.
  • Audio & Video panel: Tab through the elements in the Audio & Video panel: expand/collapse button, audio setup wizard button, options menu, microphone level slider, speaker level slider, Talk button, transmit video button, and preview video button.
  • Participants panel: Tab through the elements in the Participants panel: expand/collapse button, global options menu, feedback menu, step away button, raise hand button, polling response menu, polling response bar if a poll was conducted (moderators only), and then, finally, back to the participants list.

Navigate within a toolbar of a module window

When you open a module's window, you can use the Tab key to navigate through the various elements of its interface, with one exception: toolbar buttons. The Closed Captioning, File Transfer Library, Multimedia Library (moderators only), Session Plan Library (moderators only), Quiz Manager (moderators only), and Notes windows have tool bars with icons as buttons. You must manually enable tabbing to access these buttons.

  • On Windows: Press Alt+F8. To turn toolbar tabbing off, press Alt+F8 again.
  • On Mac: Press Option+F8. To turn toolbar tabbing off, press Option+F8 again.

Navigate within menus

To open an options menu, participant interaction menu—such as feedback and polling response menus—or another menu, navigate to it with Tab and press Space. With the up and down arrow keys, move to the menu option you want and press Space to activate it. If the menu option is a sub-menu, press Space or the right arrow key to open it.

To close the menu without selecting a menu option, press Escape.

To access the main menus, such as File and Edit, use mnemonic keys. You can't use tabbing to open these menus. However, when a menu is open, you can use your arrow keys to navigate within it and Space to execute the menu item command.

Navigate Chat Tabs

You can use keyboard navigation to move between the private chat conversation tabs in the Chat panel.

If you want to know when a new private chat message has been received, enable the audible notification Private Chat Message Received. To learn more, see Audible Notifications.

  1. Press F6 to cycle keyboard focus to the Chat panel.
  2. Press Tab twice to move to the currently open conversation tab. By default, this is the Room conversation.
  3. Use the arrow keys to move to the conversation tab you want.
  4. Press Space to open the conversation.

When you have many conversation tabs, they are added to a drop-down list to the right of the displayed conversation tabs. Use the following steps to open a conversation tab in the menu:

  1. From your currently open conversation tab, press Tab. The focus moves to the conversation drop-down list. If no conversation drop-down list exists, focus moves to the collaboration toolbar.

  2. Press Space to open the menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to move to the conversation you want.
  4. Press Space to open the conversation.

Navigate Between Content Modes

When you open a new session, the whiteboard is your default content mode. You can also access application sharing and web tour. Use keyboard navigation or keyboard shortcuts to move between content modes and keyboard navigation to move within content modes.

To switch to a content mode, you must be a moderator or a participant with permission to use that mode.

Navigation within each content mode is unique and described in the following topics:


You can use your keyboard instead of your mouse to select a menu option. Mnemonic and keyboard shortcuts-including hot keys-save time. You do not have to complete multiple steps, such as clicking a menu and then clicking an option. Also, you do not have to take your hand off the keyboard to issue the command.

Mnemonic and standard keyboard shortcuts are enabled only when you have input focus on the web conferencing window. Focus is not required for hot keys.

More on shortcuts