Support » Accessibility » WordPress Admin Screen Options and Help Buttons not “Visible” with Screen Reader

  • As a totally blind person who uses a screen reader, I have recently noticed the screen options and help tabs or buttons have disappeared from the admin screen. I noticed this first on a site I am developing, but then I noticed it also on another site that I haven’t worked on for a few weeks. I wonder if this problem has occurred after upgrading WordPress.

    I use NVDA as my regular screen reader, but also when I use JAWS I can’t find these buttons.

    I have hit a roadblock with the site I am working on because the page for adding/editing posts doesn’t have the categories panel. But I can’t find the screen options button that would let me enable the categories panel. So I urgently need a work-around for that.

    As I recall, the screen options and help buttons are near the logout button but they are just not there.

    for me. I changed to another theme, twentyfifteen I think, to see if that made a difference but no joy.

    As possibly a related issue, I noticed that the menu button that would normally bring up all the usual options for administering a site would not work and was not indicating if it is expanded or collapsed. By chance, I found that by activating my profile with the “howdy” link, the menu button began working correctly again. I haven’t seen this problem before so again I suspect it could relate to a recent version of WordPress.

    Thank you.

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Hi clansink,

    I use NVDA as my primary screen reader, and I am able to see both the screen options button and the menu open/close button. However, I am using Firefox with NVDA as NVDA is coded to work best with Firefox. I can also see these using Jaws and Internet Explorer, and would recommend using Jaws with Internet Explorer because it is best paired with IE as opposed to other browsers. One thing I always make sure to do is to ensure that my browser window is maximized. I am also using the latest stable version of NVDA and the latest stable version of Firefox.

    Let me know if that helps.


    Hi Amanda.

    Yes I also use NVDA and Firefox and I think they are both the most recent stable releases. Right now I can activate all the buttons that expand various panels on the dashboard and I can activate the menu button that brings up the menu for posts, pages, plugins, settings etc. So all that is working but the two buttons for help and screen options are just not there.

    Firefox has a nice add-on called Document Inspector I think which I find reasonably accessible when using NVDA. Using the document inspector, I can see that the buttons are there but are in a div element that has its display attribute set to none, which I guess explains why they are not visible. So this suggests some sort of CSS issue.

    I have also tried disabling plugins but with no joy.

    However you say these buttons are working for you. Are you using WordPress 4.7.3?

    Perhaps my next step is to start with a clean copy of WordPress and see if there is anything specific that I am doing while developing a new site that causes these buttons to disappear.


    Hi clansink,

    I am using WordPress 4.7.3 as well. If you’re seeing display:none on that div, that would prevent your screen reader from seeing those tab panels. Unfortunately, when I inspect these elements, I’m not able to reproduce what you’re seeing. Would it be possible for you to create a temporary WordPress instance running WordPress 4.7.3, with no plugins installed and a fresh database, and then post here with the results?


    Hi Amanda and others.

    OK I think I have resolved the problem now, but I thought I should explain what it turned out to be. This is the accessibility forum after all and this problem could happen to other users. Perhaps the WordPress accessibility team might also need to give some thought to it as I will explain shortly.

    Log story short, I did do a clean install of WordPress 4.7.3 and got the same problem. Then I did a clean install of WordPress 4.7.1 and again got the same problem, ie the help and screen options buttons were not there in the admin screen. I knew I had used this older version of WordPress with no problem, so this tended to suggest something had changed with my PC setup rather than WordPress itself. It also helped to know that Amanda was also using NVDA and Firefox and was not having this problem with WordPress 4.7.3. Amanda referred to the need to make sure the window is maximised, and I was consistently making sure of this. I also went to another PC I sometimes use that also has NVDA and Firefox, and here the help and screen options buttons were displaying correctly, so back then to my laptop to figure out the problem.

    It turned out to be the orientation of my laptop display. On my laptop I can do ctrl/alt/left, right, up and down to orient the display visually in four directions. If it is oriented correctly, or up side down, the buttons appear. If it is oriented sideways one way or the other, the buttons disappear. The reason why I suggest the WordPress accessibility team might want to give this some thought is that I can’t personally think of a situation where you would want these buttons to disappear, no matter what screen size you are using.

    Finally I should comment that it is quite easy for a blind person to accidentally use one of these hotkeys and get their screen oriented in a strange way. These same hotkeys are used for navigating cell by cell when in a table. You only have to use these keys by mistake when not in a table and you could easily end up with your display oriented the wrong way, but you don’t see it and normally it makes no real difference to you as a user.

    Anyway that is the explanation and it is good to have the buttons back where I need them.


    Hi, @clansink – Thanks for pointing this out. This looks like it’s part of the responsive styling for mobile devices. We’ll take a look at what should happen on small devices regarding screen options and help; I agree that they shouldn’t just be disabled on small screens.

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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