How to select multiple items in a list box on a web page

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Problem

Some web pages may include a list box where you can select multiple items in the same list. JAWS and Fusion refer to this type of control as an “extended select list box” and others may refer to it as a “multiple select list box.” For screen reader users who primarily use the keyboard, selecting multiple items is not always as obvious as it is for mouse users.

Solution

When using Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox, you can select multiple items in a multiple select list box using the keyboard as follows:

  1. Press and hold down the CTRL key while using the UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW keys to scroll through the list of items. JAWS and Fusion will announce a “not selected” status but will not announce that an item is selected. This is to minimize excessive information.
  2. To select or deselect the item currently in focus, continue to hold down the CTRL key and press the SPACEBAR. The new state is announced by JAWS or Fusion, whether it is “selected” or “not selected.”
  3. To select contiguous items in the list, navigate to the first item you want to select, then hold down the SHIFT key and press the DOWN ARROW key until the last item you want to select is highlighted.

Note: All your selections are lost if you navigate to another item after releasing the CTRL key. Internet Explorer has an additional method of selecting items which avoids this issue and allows for first-letter navigation through the list.

In Internet Explorer, here is the best way to select items in a multiple select list box:

  1. With the list in focus, press SHIFT+F8.
  2. Use the UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW to navigate the list.
  3. Or press a letter to navigate to the first item in the list beginning with that letter. This is helpful for selecting non-contiguous items in a long list.
  4. You can still hold down the SHIFT key and use the ARROW keys to select contiguous items.
  5. When on an item, use the SPACEBAR to select or deselect the item.
  6. Press SHIFT+F8 when you are done.

Note: Due to limitations of the multiple select list controls in Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Firefox, the SHIFT+F8 mode selection is not available, therefore the time saving first-letter navigation is not possible. We have contacted Google about this issue. Microsoft Edge is based on Chrome, so if Chrome is fixed, so will Microsoft Edge.

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