JAWS: Introduction (Text Version)

This information is about Jaws screen-reading software, and its most commonly-used functions. JAWS stands for Job Access With Speech, and it is considered to be by many the standard for screen-reading software.

This software may not be exciting for a visual user, because it is intended for people with visual deficits, therefore it is primarily auditory. The majority of the information I will be talking about utilizes the keyboard, as JAWS users mainly utilize the keyboard to navigate.

To use JAWS, on a computer on which it has been installed, begin by clicking the JAWS icon located on the computer desktop. A box will appear and can be minimized, but do not close this window, as if it is closed, the JAWS application will no longer be running.

Next, press the Windows key on the keyboard to access the start menu. Then, the arrows on the keyboard can be used to navigate to a desired program, and [Enter] can be pressed to select that program.

If I were to execute the keyboard commands to launch Microsoft Word, JAWS would speak the following :

"To navigate press up or down arrow. Files and Settings Transfer Wizard eight of eight, Tour Windows XP seven of eight, Adobe Reader 8 six of eight, Microsoft Office Word 2007 Enter, leaving menus."

Once a program has been selected, JAWS will continue reading everything on that page from top to bottom. You can press the [Ctrl] key at anytime to silence JAWS.

First, JAWS announces each character you type, so, if you were to type “Hello Everyone!”, JAWS would say the following: "H-e-l-l-o [space] E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e [exclaim]"

JAWS will read what you have typed by pressing [Insert] and the right or left arrow keys. JAWS will also read what you have typed if you highlighting the text.  Also, when a letter is capitalized, the pitch is higher to indicate the capitalization.

Here is an example of this by my typing “Bye!”: "B-y-e [exclaim]"

Next, we will be discussing using JAWS on the Internet. To access Internet Explorer, or FireFox, press the Windows button on the keyboard, then navigate to a desired browser using the arrow keys. Press [Enter] to select the desired browsing program. It is important to note that you need to have a general idea of what you are looking for on the webpage, and to become familiar with the page.

Pressing [Insert] and [F7], at the same time, tells you how many links are on that page, and gives a display box listing each of them.  This menu has the following options under Display, and can list the links in any of the following ways:

  • It can list all the links on the page
  • It can list the links you have visited only
  • It can list the links you have not visited

You can also choose the way you want the links to be sorted, under Sort Links. They can be sorted in the order they would be tabbed through on the page, or in alphabetical order.

If you know the name of the link you are looking for, you can press the key on the keyboard that corresponds with the first letter in the name of the link. You can also use the [Tab] key to navigate through the links.

Lastly, pressing [Alt] and [D] at the same time will take you to the address bar so that you can enter URLs. Enter a desired URL and press [Enter]. As in the word processor, JAWS will also announce each character you type in the search field.

Should you need technical assistance your first option is to use the Help function located in JAWS, or you could contact JAWS support at (800) 444-4443.

If you are in a WVU computer lab you can request help from the lab staff, in addition to the previously mentioned options. If you are on the Morgantown campus, you can email oitat@mail.wvu.edu or call (304) 293-7661 and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

This is the conclusion of JAWS screen-reading software tutorial. Please return to the website to learn about additional assistive technology solutions, or to provide your feedback on these materials.