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JAWS Version 8 Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about JAWS for Windows, organized in the following categories:

About Jaws

  • What is JAWS?

    JAWS stands for "Job Access for Windows and Speech." It is a screen reader program created by Freedom Scientific, which allows people who are blind to gain access to information on their computers.

  • How do JAWS users access the information on their computers?

    JAWS provides access in two different ways: speech and Braille. JAWS uses an internal speech software program called Eloquence, along with the computer's sound card. JAWS also provides support for refreshable Braille displays and additional speech software options such as the AT&T natural voices.

  • How many different versions of JAWS are available with each release?

    Two. The standard version is for use with Windows XP Home/ME/98. The professional version supports Windows XP Professional, Home, and Media Center Editions/2000/ME/98.

  • How much does JAWS cost?

    The standard version costs $895. The professional version costs $1,095. If you purchase a software maintenance agreement (SMA), it could save you money; purchasing them separately from the version of JAWS you want will cost you $50 more than if you purchase the SMA at the same time as your JAWS software.

  • How might a Freedom Scientific Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) benefit me?

    If you purchase the SMA, you are eligible for two consecutive software upgrades to JAWS on CD-ROM, or you can download the upgrades from the Freedom Scientific website. Having the SMA could save you up to 50%. only U.S. customers can purchase the SMA.
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Getting Started with JAWS

  • I am blind. Can I install JAWS on my computer without sighted assistance?

    Yes. The JAWS CD-ROM comes with its own built-in speech engine, allowing someone without sight to easily install JAWS on their computer by following the voiced instructions.

  • Can I use standard Windows commands with JAWS?

    Yes. Examples of standard Windows keys would include:

    -- Left Arrow/right arrow: Moves the cursor left or right one character; JAWS speaks that character.
    -- Shift+Left or Right Arrow: selects that character. JAWS says that character, along with the word "selected."
    -- Alt+F4: closes a window.
    -- Ctrl+o: opens a file.

  • What training materials are available for JAWS?

    JAWS provides a variety of different training materials to help people learn how to use JAWS. First, JAWS comes with a cassette tape that helps novice JAWS users install the software on their computer.

    With JAWS Version 8, training materials are available in DAISY format. The demo version of FS-Reader automatically comes with JAWS version 8. With FS-Reader, new JAWS users can listen as people from Freedom Scientific demonstrate how to navigate their computer screen with JAWS. They can also read along in Braille what the Freedom Scientific trainers say. It is just like listening to cassettes in previous versions of JAWS, only you may read along as well.

    Finally, the Online Help Topics as well as application-specific help is still available for those who wish to read detailed documentation and explore JAWS keystrokes on their own.

  • Is there a way to search Help Topics for a specific topic?

    Yes. Follow these steps:

    1. Open JAWS Help Topics by pressing F1 when the JAWS window has focus.
    2. Press Alt+s to search.
    3. Type the word you want to search for in the edit field.
    4. Tab once to List Topics.
    5. Tab once to hear your search results. You will generally see a variety of results.
    6. Press F6 on the topic you want to read about.

  • How do I access the DAISY training materials in JAWS?

    Go into JAWS Help, select training materials, scroll through the list of topics and press F6. A read-only window then opens and you are automatically in FS-Reader.

  • Is FS-Reader easy to use?

    Yes. Here are some commands for navigating through these documents in FS-Reader by listening:

    -- Play/Pause: Ctrl+p
    -- Stop: Ctrl+s
    -- Rewind: Comma
    -- Fast Forward: Period
    -- Increase Rate of Speed: Ctrl+Page Up
    -- Decrease Rate of Speed: Ctrl+Page Down
    -- Switch to Normal Speed: Ctrl+Shift+n

  • How do I exit JAWS?

    With your window focus on JAWS, press Alt+F4; then press Enter to exit JAWS. You can also go into the JAWS Options menu by pressing the Alt key, pressing your Down-Arrow key once until you hear JAWS say "Basics" and select Exit by pressing your Up- or Down-arrow key until you hear that option and then press Enter.

  • How do I restart JAWS?

    Press Insert+ctrl+j, or press Windows Logo Key+r, type "jaws8" without the quotes, and press Enter.

  • What is the Options Menu?

    The Options Menu contains all of your basic settings, located in submenus, that you need to get started using JAWS. You will find four submenus: Basics, Voices, Braille and Exit. Press Enter to access the changes you can make; press the Spacebar to check or uncheck the boxes that allow you to make changes to your settings.

    In the Basics Menu the first option allows you to control how much information JAWS says regarding how to get access to help. This is known as a tutor message, and you can adjust how much information you get with this option. When Tutor Messages are turned on, here is one example of what you would hear: "Desktop, list view. Not selected My Computer. Use the arrow keys to move to items."

    Access Key is the second option, and it tells you about the hot keys available to easily navigate through, for instance, dialog boxes.

    JAWS startup setting, the third option in the Basics Menu, allows the computer to start JAWS automatically during boot up, or opens JAWS when a user who has selected JAWS in their personal settings logs onto the computer.

    Show Virtual Viewer is the next option. The Virtual Viewer is how JAWS users view web pages and read application-sensitive help messages. You can also copy, append copy and paste blocks of text from the internet or other Windows-based programs into the Virtual Viewer. By default, this feature is turned on.

    The fifth option in the Basics menu, called Keyboard Layout, lets you use either laptop or desktop commands, depending on which type of computer you are using.

    Windows System Parameters are best left at their defaults. There is rarely a need to change these settings and JAWS functions best this way.

  • How do I save settings after adjusting them in the Basics (or any other) menu?

    Simply pressing Enter on the OK button will save the settings for you that you have modified. Pressing the cancel button or the Escape key will cancel these settings.
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Access with Braille

  • What are refreshable Braille displays?

    Braille displays are usually rectangular in shape with pins that move up and down that form letters of the Braille cells. When used in conjunction with a screen reader, they provide a tactile Braille representation of what JAWS speech synthesis says and what's showing on the monitor.

    Braille displays usually have a row of buttons on the panel above the Braille cells that move the cursor to a chosen position when pressed, to edit a spelling mistake, for example, or to click on a link in Internet Explorer. These are called cursor routing buttons.

    In addition to the cursor routing buttons, Braille displays often have advance buttons, whiz wheels or rocker switches that allow the user to move a line up or down in reading or skim a few lines at a time.

  • How is using a refreshable Braille display different than using speech in JAWS?

    If you use speech-only in JAWS, you will use hotkeys to perform tasks such as saving a file. If you use a Braille display, you will become familiar with how the screen is laid out so that you can easily scroll to menu options. You can then use a cursor routing button to click on, for example, a Web link or a letter in a misspelled word you want to edit, instead of using the keyboard to perform these functions. Most people who use a Braille display use a combination of cursor routing buttons and hotkeys.

    If you use a Braille display, you will notice rather quickly that certain abbreviations are used; list views (lv), symbols (sb), scroll buttons (scrup/dn) and links (lnk) in order to conserve space on the Braille display. Additionally, links are usually underlined with dots 7 and 8. You can adjust how many of these abbreviations you see in the JAWS Verbosity menu (Insert+V) or in the Configuration Manager.

  • What are the different choices presented to me in the Braille submenu?

    There is a default Braille display setting, which allows you to tell JAWS which Braille display you are using. JAWS supports a wide variety of Braille displays.

    The "Show Braille load error" checkbox is next. By default, the checkbox is not checked, so your Braille display will start when JAWS starts.

    The next option in the Braille menu is the Translation table. This setting is best left at its default. It shows how Braille characters are viewed on the Braille display.

    Add Braille Display option is next. If you purchase a Braille display and want JAWS to recognize it, you must select this option.

    The final option in this menu is the Advanced Braille Display Settings button.

  • What are the options in the Advanced Braille Display Settings?

    The first option is "Grade Two Enable Translator." If this is turned on, you will read contracted Braille with your Braille display.

    The next option is "Grade Two Expand Current Word," and when this option is checked, the word your cursor is located on will be in uncontracted Braille. This makes it easier to find your cursor when editing documents, although some people may wish to have it turned off to save space on their Braille display.

    The third option is "Grade Two Suppress Capital Signs." This option is very useful if you are working with a small Braille display and you don't have eight-dot mode running. Not viewing the extra dot 6's gives the Braille reader extra characters.
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Access with Speech or Audio Cues

  • What does the Voices Menu in Basic Settings allow you to do?

    The Voices submenu allows you to change the rate JAWS speaks. You can change individual settings so that if, for example, you open Word, JAWS will speak more slowly just for that program. If you change the global settings, JAWS will speak faster or slower universally.

    Spelling Rate Increment (Insert+numpad 5) will spell the selected word slower than the current rate of JAWS. You can change the spelling rate with this option.

    Pitch Increment is an edit box that allows you to change the pitch of the voice you are using. Voice pitch changes can occur for many different reasons, depending on your settings in the Sounds and Schemes Manager. Please see the question on the Sounds and Schemes Manager for more information.

  • Can I make the rate of speech faster or slower depending on which application I am using?

    Yes. This is called application-specific speech. Let us say that if you are using Internet Explorer, you want to make the rate of speech faster, so that you can quickly browse websites. On the other hand, you need to carefully read documents in Microsoft Word. Here is how you would increase the rate of speech for Internet Explorer:

    1. Open Internet Explorer or, if you already have it open, press Alt+Tab until you find Internet Explorer.
    2. Then press Alt+Tab until you reach JAWS.
    3. Go to the Voice Settings in the Options Menu in JAWS.
    4. A dialog box with two radio buttons will open. Arrow down once until you hear "application."
    5. Tab until you hear "voice rate" and then press Down Arrow to increase speech rate.

  • What does the Language Submenu do?

    The JAWS language menu allows you to switch between speech synthesizers (such as a software speech synthesizer in a hardware one), or will turn speech off altogether so that the only output the user receives is Braille.
  • What is the Voice Aliases dialog and where is it located?

    The Voice Aliases Dialog is located in the Set Options Menu of the JAWS Configuration Manager. From that dialog, you can select one of over fifteen programmed schemes that might make screen navigating easier. Please see the "Microsoft" and "internet browsing" sections of this FAQ for useful schemes.

  • How can I modify a voice alias?

    Here are the steps:

    1. With your window focus on JAWS, enter the JAWS Configuration Manager by pressing f for file, u for utilities and c for Configuration Manager.
    2. Scroll down to the Voice Aliases Dialog and press Enter.
    3. Tab until you reach the Modify button and press Enter or Spacebar.
    4. Select the Voice personality you want to use by using your Down-arrow key to scroll through the list.
    5. Then Press Tab to Voice Pitch and make any adjustments you want.
    6. Then press tab until you find Voice Rate and make any necessary adjustments.
    7. Then Tab to OK and press Enter or Spacebar.
    8. Tab to OK in the Voice Aliases Dialog and Press enter.
    9. When you exit JAWS Configuration Manager, Press spacebar to activate the Yes button to save your settings.

  • What is the Speech and Sounds Manager and where is it located?

    The Speech and Sounds Manager is located in the JAWS Configuration Manager in the Set Options Menu. With this tool, you can control how the voice tells you about your screen, or you can put a sound to associate with whatever is on your screen.

    For example, you can select a sound to indicate checkboxes instead of hearing JAWS say, "check box." The sounds must be in .wav format, and JAWS comes with nearly 100 sounds to choose from. For more information on how this tool can be useful, please see the "Internet Browsing" and "Access with Microsoft Word" sections.
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Internet Browsing

  • What is Forms Mode?

    Forms mode allows the user to type in an edit field on a website. Enter Forms Mode by pressing the Enter key on the edit field. Press the Numpad Plus-key to turn Forms Mode off temporarily, or press Enter to submit your form when you are done typing text into the edit field.

  • What are some features of JAWS in Internet Explorer that can make navigating the web easier?

    JAWS provides many useful commands, including: -- Ctrl+o: Takes you to the Open Dialog where you type your web address in Internet Explorer; Ctrl+l takes you to the Open Dialog in Firefox.

    -- Links List Dialog, Insert+F7: In Internet Explorer and Firefox, provides a list of only the links on a web page. Use your up- or down-arrow keys to navigate through the links list. You can also press the first letter of a link, and JAWS will take you to all the links that begin with that letter. Pressing Enter on the link of your choice takes you out of the dialog and to that link.

    -- Headings List dialog, insert+f6: In Internet Explorer and Firefox, extracts the headings on a web page and tells you what heading level each heading is--1 through 6 and reads the heading title. Pressing Enter on the heading you want takes you directly to that heading, and JAWS will begin reading from there.

    -- Forms List Dialog, Insert+F5: Provides a list of all the Form fields such as edit fields, search buttons and radio buttons on a web page. Pressing Enter on a form activates Forms Mode so that you can input text, check or uncheck radio buttons or activate the search button. This option is available in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    -- Next non-link, n: Skips over the remaining links and takes you to the first instance of text in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    -- List Frames, Insert+F9: lists all the frames on a website in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    -- Jump to Next Frame, m: skips to the next frame on a web page in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    -- Skip to next list, l: skips over the list you are reading and takes you to the next list for both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

    -- Auto Language Detection: In the Internet settings in Jaws, Eloquence will start reading in the language the web page is written in, depending on if the page is coded correctly. JAWS language support is for Castilian Spanish, French, British English, American English, German and Italian, among others.

  • Can JAWS read tables easily?

    JAWS has two different ways of reading a table: Simple Layout Mode and Screen Layout Mode. Simple Layout mode, the default option, reads tables the same as in all prior versions of JAWS, and Screen Layout Mode lets you view tables the way a sighted person would see them.

    To change from Simple layout to Screen Layout Mode:

    1. While in Internet Explorer, press Insert+V to bring up the JAWS Verbosity settings.
    2. Press the Down-Arrow key once, and you will hear "Document presentation Simple layout."
    3. Press Spacebar to toggle between Simple layout and Screen Layout.

    Other useful commands are:
    -- Jump to next table: t.
    -- Jump to cell within current table: Control+j; Windows logo key+j in Firefox.
    -- Return to Previous Cell in Table: Ctrl+Shift+j; Shift+Windows Logo Key in Firefox.
    -- Table List: Ctrl+insert+r lists the tables on a web page; works for Explorer and Firefox.

  • Is there a voice alias that can help me navigate the web easier?

    Yes. The "Web Rentacrowd" alias is excellent for web navigation, and it works the same way in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Remember, if you don't like the voices used, you can change them. Please see the question "How can I change voices in the Voice Alias Dialog".

  • Can JAWS read PDF files?

    Yes, with JAWS Version 5 or later, and Adobe Acrobat Version 6 or later, provided that the documents are authored correctly, most PDF files are accessable to a JAWS user. A list is being compiled for people who author PDF documents. A partial list can be found under the JAWS Help Topic, "JAWS and Adobe Acrobat Reader."
  • Why are there duplicate settings in the JAWS Verbosity Menu and the Configuration Manager?

    If you make adjustments in the verbosity menu, Insert, they are temporary; if made in the Configuration Manager, those adjustments apply to all websites until you adjust another setting.
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Access with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel

  • Can JAWS tell me about the appearance of a document?

    Yes. You can use the following helpful voice aliases (for more information, please see the Voice Aliases questions "What is the Voice Alias Dialog" and "How do I modify a voice"): All Caps, Quotation Voice and Italic Voice. In the Sounds and Schemes manager (please see the question about the Sounds and Schemes Manager), there are schemes that speak when there are different fonts and colors.

    Also, useful navigational commands in MS Word are: -- Say Character formatting: Insert+F (pressed twice quickly tells you the insertion format)
    -- Adjust point Size: Ctrl+Shift+P
    -- Say Font Color: Insert+5
    -- Say Line and Column: Insert+Delete
    -- Describe Border of Text: Alt+Shift+B

  • Is there an easy way to correct spelling mistakes with Microsoft Word?

    Here are some useful spell check and editing commands:

    -- Read Misspelled Word and Suggestion in spell check: Insert+F7
    -- Announce Footnotes or Endnotes: Alt+Shift+E
    -- List Hyperlinks: Insert+F8
    -- List Spelling Errors: Ctrl+Shift+L
    -- List Revisions: Ctrl+Shift+V
    -- List Grammatical Errors: Ctrl+Shift+G

  • What is the JAWS skim reading feature for Microsoft Word?

    The skim reading feature of JAWS allows you to only read the first line, word or sentence of each paragraph in a document. You can also create a custom summary to search for particular phrases. To open the Skim Reading Dialog:

    1. Press Insert+F2 and select Skim Reading Dialog box from the list of choices--or
    2. Press Ctrl+Insert+Down Arrow.

    As you Tab through the options, you will notice that you can scan by line or sentence. The Scanning Indicator checkbox, if checked, will have JAWS sound tones to indicate that it has skimmed through text and did not find what you specified in 20 units of text. Uncheck the check box if you don't want to hear the tones. Choose Start Skim Reading will cause JAWS to start the process.

  • How do I start reading a document without continuously pressing the Down Arrow key?

    Press Insert+Down Arrow if you are at the top of a document. JAWS will begin reading from the point of your cursor to the end of the document.

  • What are some navigational keystrokes for Microsoft Excel?

    There are many helpful keystrokes that help make nagigating Excel easier.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+C lists current cells in a column.
    -- Alt+Shift+C reads the column title.
    -- Insert+Numpad Enter reads the columntotal.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+R lists the cells in the current row.
    -- Insert+Delete reads the row total
    -- Alt+Shift+R says the row title.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+Apostraphe lists the cells with comments.
    -- Alt+Shift+Apostraphe reads the comments.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+S lists theworksheets.
    -- Alt+Shift+V says the range of cells that are visible in the active window.
    -- Alt+Shift+H reads a hyperlink.
    -- Insert+F says the cell's font and atributes.
    -- Ctrl+F2 says the current formula.
    -- Insert+F7 reads spelling errors and suggestions.
    -- Alt+Page up moves to the prior screen and spreadsheet, while Alt+Page down moves to the next screen andspreadsheet.
    -- Ctrl+Page down moves to the next sheet, while Ctrl+Page up moves to the previous sheet.
    -- Ctrl+Down arrow, Ctrl+up arrow, Ctrl+Left Arrow and Ctrl+right arrow move the cursor to the edge of the current data region.
    -- Ctrl+Spacebar selects the current column.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+H selects a hyperlink.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+8 selects the current region.
    -- Shift+spacebar selects the row.
    -- Ctrl+Shift+o slects the objects on a worksheet.
    -- Shift+Backspace collapses the selection to the current cell.

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For additional help, try the JAWS User Guide