You are correct, and it is definitely a bug in Office (It
works exactly the same with no screen reader running). I have
found one workaround, which is when you hear NVDA read "split
button", you know the option opens a menu. While enter or
space should work, if you press alt+down arrow, it does open
Re items on the home ribbon, I have always had a bit of a
concern with the Home ribbon. After all, items on the other
ribbons are more or less logical (there are a few, ok a lot,
you could argue, but bear with me) - the Home ribbon, however,
is purely what Microsoft THINK people need access to more
I couldn't understand why half the Word home ribbon was taken
up with Styles when Word 2007 came out - after all, a good
portion of Word users still likely couldn't tell you what
styles are, let alone use them.
Back to inserting rows and columns specifically, and I can
give you another way to do that as well:
CONTROL+SHIFT+= (CONTROL, SHIFT and EQUALS) or
If you have one or more full rows selected (SHIFT+SPACEBAR
btw) when you press this, it will automatically insert one or
more rows above the selected rows (same number of rows as you
If you have one or more full columns selected
(CONTROL+SPACEBAR for that one), then it inserts columns.
If you don't have a full row or column selected, it will
open a dialog asking whether you want to shift cells right,
shift cells down, insert a row or insert a column.
(Note that those are all Excel commands, there is nothing
specific to NVDA there.)
Here endeth the lesson :) All this and more will be in the
Microsoft Excel with NVDA training module, which will be
available later this year.