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Blackboard Help

Participate in Discussions with JAWS

The information below applies to Blackboard Learn with the Original experience.

Open the Discussion Board

Find the Discussions link for a particular course under the H Course Entry Page heading 3. If you are a part of a group, your group is listed below the My Groups heading. Find its forum(s) by selecting its name.


After selecting the Discussions link or the link to your group’s forums, press T to jump to a table that lists the available forums. Use the arrow keys to review the contents of this table.

If you press Tab while in this table, JAWS switches into Application Mode. Handle this the same way you would when using a Rich Content Editor to answer a question; if you need to review the rest of the table for context, press NumPad Plus or CapsLock + Semicolon (Laptop mode) twice quickly to turn it off.

In this table, forums are organized in rows, with these columns traveling from left to right:

  • Forum (forum name)
  • Description (instructor-provided blurb about the forum)
  • Total Posts (as a number)
  • Total Unread Posts (as a number)
  • Total Participants (as a number)

Select a forum's name to load a page listing its threads.

Select the number in the Unread Messages column to collect and display all unread messages in all threads of that forum on a single page.

Forum threads

On the page listing the threads of a forum, we recommend that you set the Discussion View to Tree View. Press the Enter key on its link. This can be found under the Discussion View Options heading 2. This heading appears before the content heading 1. If the link reads “Tree View (Active),” then tree view is already active.

In the Tree View, all thread titles are marked up as Heading Level 3, which means you can quickly navigate between them using the H key. You can also select the graphic labeled message.thread.expand, which reveals the names of posts within a thread. This means you can view posts in any thread without having to select its name to visit its specific page.

In List View, thread information appears in tabular format. Press the T key to navigate to the table and use the arrow keys or table navigation commands to review the information.

Select the Create Thread link on a forum's page to create a new thread.

View posts in a thread

There are two ways to review posts in a particular thread.

  1. With forms mode off, use the X key to jump to the check box at the top of each message in the thread. This is the quickest way to jump from one message to the next; however, you will not find draft messages using this method.
  2. Use the Tab key to traverse messages in the thread. Forms mode may activate itself, in which case you will need to turn it off to review the message using the arrow keys.

More on deactivating forms mode

Use the down arrow key to review the content of the thread, which includes these in order:

  1. An unlabeled link
  2. The approximate time when the message was posted (I.e. 8 months ago)
  3. The author's Name
  4. The message Subject (usually [Topic Title] or Re: [topic title])
  5. A collapse button to hide the contents of the post.
  6. Text announcing the overall rating of this message. It mentions that you can use the arrow keys to modify your rating for this message. Forms Mode needs to be active in order for this to work. Pressing the Tab key in this area activates Forms Mode.
  7. A visual representation of the rating text: overall Rating, followed by a list of numbers 1-5. Ignore this list.
  8. Your Rating: followed by five buttons. Press Enter on the button that matches your rating for this post.
  9. Duplicate of the Overall/Personal rating info.

Next are the contents of the message followed by buttons to Reply, Reply with a quote of the message, and Email the Author.

Reply to discussion posts

Press the Reply or Quote buttons below a message to respond to it. JAWS speaks an alert when the message editor is ready, and focus is placed on the * Subject: edit field. Press Space on it to activate Forms Mode.

If you reply to a post using the Quote button, your message includes the author's entire message as a quote. You may edit it using standard Windows® editing commands.

The subject field is pre-populated with Re: [thread title]. You may edit it if you like.

Save a post as a draft

After you finish your message, press Tab to find the Cancel, Save as Draft and Submit buttons. Press Submit to post the message to the thread. Then, press Save as Draft to save your message for later editing.

When saved as a draft, your message appears in the list of messages without a checkbox preceding it. This means that you skip past it when navigating the page with the X key.

Use the Tab key to find your draft message in the list of messages.

Since using Tab to navigate the page announces the message without announcing the subject, you need to either remember the contents of your draft message, or use the Up arrow key after tabbing to review the message's subject.

Here is how to determine if any of your drafts have been saved:

  • Tab through the page and listen for the body of your message.
  • Look for a message with the word “Draft” at the end of its subject line, and without a check box preceding it.
  • If you encounter Edit and Delete buttons while tabbing through a page, press Shift + Tab to find your draft.

Press Tab or Down arrow from the contents of your draft to find the Edit and Delete buttons. Press Edit to bring up the Rich Content Editor for your draft. To post it to the board for everyone else to see, select Submit.

Rate posts

Find the buttons to rate a post above the post’s content. Press the Enter key on the button that matches your rating. You can check the rating you have assigned to a post by arrowing down past the buttons to text that lists the overall message rating alongside yours.

More on viewing posts to rate them