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SuperNova for Assessors Course

6. Dolphin Cursor


Welcome to the sixth lesson in the Assessor's Course. This lesson will introduce you to the virtual cursor, which enables you to read webpages using the keyboard AND MUCH, MUCH MORE.

Lesson objectives

After studying this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Correctly explain the purpose of a screen reader’s virtual cursor and provide three examples where the virtual cursor may be of benefit.
  • Correctly name the basic keyboard commands that enable you to control the movement of the virtual cursor.
  • Correctly name at least six further keyboard commands that enable you to quickly navigate the virtual cursor to elements on a webpage.

This lesson should take no more than twenty minutes to complete.

This lesson applies to:

  • SuperNova Magnifier & Screen Reader.
  • Dolphin ScreenReader.

Virtual cursor

A virtual cursor is a special kind of cursor created by a screen reader. The purpose of the virtual cursor is to enable users to navigate content using the keyboard in situations where keyboard access is limited.

Examples where a virtual cursor may be required include HTML help systems, PDF documents, HTML based email messages and webpages. You may also want to use the virtual cursor to read through message windows that are displaying strings of data as the virtual cursor lets you control your reading speed.

Dolphin Cursor

HubSpot Video

The SuperNova and Dolphin ScreenReader virtual cursor is called the Dolphin cursor. The Dolphin Cursor is always available to you, enabling you to make use of it as and when you require it.


Function Desktop - Default NumPad Set Laptop - Universal Set
Turn on Dolphin Cursor NUMPAD MINUS CAPS LOCK + Z
Turn on Dolphin Cursor and position it at the current focus NUMPAD ASTERISK CAPS LOCK + MINUS
Turn off the Dolphin Cursor NUMPAD MINUS CAPS LOCK + Z


When you turn on the Dolphin Cursor, its position on the screen is highlighted. You can change the style of the highlight through the SuperNova and Dolphin ScreenReader Highlighting options.

You can move the Dolphin Cursor using FAMILIAR Windows keyboard commands.

Keyboard commands include:

  • Move to previous / next character with LEFT / RIGHT ARROW.
  • Move to previous / next word with LEFT CONTROL + LEFT / RIGHT ARROW.
  • Move to previous / next line with UP / DOWN ARROW.
  • Move to start of line with HOME.
  • Move to end of line with END.
  • Move to top of document or window with LEFT CONTROL + HOME.
  • Move to bottom of document or window with LEFT CONTROL + END.
  • Move to the next object with TAB.
  • Move to the previous object with LEFT SHIFT + TAB.

Other keyboard commands are available to control the movement of the Dolphin Cursor including the movement of the Dolphin cursor to other windows on the screen. These are documented in the product's manual.

Besides navigating, you can also use the Dolphin Cursor to interact with objects on the screen, for example, you can press a button, select a check box, or click a link. You can also use the Dolphin Cursor to search for text and copy text from the screen.

Browsing the Internet

In some situations, the Dolphin Cursor is automatically enabled when a window has focus. In these situations, it is recognised that the Dolphin Cursor provides the only means to navigate the content of the window in a structured and logical way with a keyboard.

Of course, the most popular use of the Dolphin Cursor is to enable you to read, navigate and interact with the world wide web using a keyboard.

The web brings many opportunities for designers and developers to create wonderful websites which, unfortunately, can sometimes have a detrimental impact on accessibility, leading to poorly structured and busy webpages.

To help address this, the Dolphin Cursor includes options that are designed to make it easy for you to browse the web using the keyboard.

You can:

  • Move the Dolphin cursor through a webpage using the traditional navigation keys as documented above.
  • Move the Dolphin cursor to specific elements on a webpage by using Quick Navigation Keys (QNK). There are over twenty QNKs available including:
  • 1 For heading level 1 through to 6 for heading level 6.
  • A for Place Markers.
  • B for button.
  • E for edit area.
  • H for heading.
  • K for link.
  • L for list.
  • T for table.
  • U for unvisited link.
  • V for visited link.
  • ; (semi colon) for ARIA landmarks.
  • Interact seamlessly with forms you encounter on a webpage with the Dolphin Cursor Forms Mode. The Dolphin Cursor switches into Forms Mode when you need to type into the form field and re-enables the Dolphin Cursor when you leave the form field, for example, when you need to enter text into a search box.
  • Store positions on a webpage as temporary or permanent Place Markers for easy navigation in the future. The Place Markers you set can match the webpage URL or the website domain.
  • Move the Dolphin cursor to elements on a webpage with the use of the Item Finder. The Item Finder groups elements into lists to enable you to quickly review the links, headings, tables, landmarks and more on a webpage. You can open the Item Finder by pressing CAPS LOCK + TAB when you are on a webpage.

And don't forget, you also have access to the Dolphin Cursor Find feature if you wish to search for text on a webpage and you have the ability to copy passages of text using the Dolphin cursor Selection option.

To do a search with the Dolphin Cursor:

  1. Press F3. Speech says "Find". Note that no dialog box appears on the screen.
  2. Type the text to find.
  3. Press ENTER. The Dolphin Cursor searches for a match below the current Dolphin Cursor position. If no match is found, then speech announces "not found".
  4. You can continue searching by pressing F4. The search continues down the page from the current Dolphin Cursor position. If you want to search upwards, press F2.

If you are using the Laptop Universal Hotkey Set, then the above commands differ in the following ways:

  • Press LEFT CONTROL + CAPS LOCK + F to initialise the Dolphin Cursor Find option.
  • Press CAPS LOCK + F3 to search for the next occurrence.
  • Press LEFT SHIFT + CAPS LOCK + F3 to search for the previous occurrence.

It is also worth noting that the text you enter is stored until you enter a new piece of text or until you quit SuperNova or Dolphin ScreenReader. This means you can use the Find Next and Find Previous commands on new web pages without the need to enter the same search string again.

To copy text from a webpage, you simply use the same keystrokes you use in Windows, for example, LEFT SHIFT plus the Arrow Keys to make your selection and then press LEFT CONTROL + C to copy the selection to the Windows Clipboard. Note that your selected region on the webpage is not highlighted during the process and the text you copy is plain text without formatting.


In this lesson you learnt about the Dolphin cursor and the ways its use can benefit users of the keyboard. You learnt how to enable and disable the Dolphin cursor and that the Dolphin Cursor is automatically enabled in certain situations, for example, when a webpage has focus.

You also learnt about the commands you can use to quickly navigate a webpage, that there is a Forms Mode to help you seamlessly interact with form fields and that you can copy passages of text from the screen with the Dolphin Cursor.

In the next lesson you'll be looking at the SuperNova and Dolphin ScreenReader scanning options including connecting to a camera and a whiteboard.


Below are three sample quiz questions based on this lesson. Please spend no more than five minutes considering the answers to these questions.

  1. You can use the Dolphin Cursor to review the parts of a window an application's focus cannot go. Is this statement true?
  2. You can move the Dolphin cursor to specific elements on a webpage such as a button, link or heading using Quick Navigation Keys. Is this statement true?
  3. The Dolphin Cursor does not include the ability to copy text from a webpage. Is this statement true?

End of lesson

Thank you for completing this lesson. Please select 'Next Lesson' below to continue to the next part of this course.

To revisit a previous lesson, please scroll to the top of this page and choose the lesson from the Course Outline menu.

But before you move on, here are the answers to the quiz questions:

  1. True.
  2. True.
  3. False.

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