Reading and Writing with JAWS

Start Reading and Writing with JAWS

In this lesson, we’re going to start learning how to use JAWS to navigate, read, and edit an electronic document. What is an electronic document? Think of Microsoft Word files (.docx), Adobe Reader files (.pdf), email messages (.msg), and text files (.txt, .rtf, and .html).
We’ll be practicing using a Microsoft Word document. You can download the document below:
JAWS Example

Reading & Writing

When you open a new document in most document editor programs, your cursor will be at the beginning of the document. The page is ready to take your input from the keyboard.
Exercise: Go to your desktop and open Microsoft Word. Type out the line, “Hello World! I am writing in Word with JAWS!”
When you’re done, move the cursor over to the left so that it is positioned right behind the exclamation point after, “Hello World”. You can move the cursor by pressing the left arrow button. What does JAWS do when we move through our writing with the arrow buttons?
As we move through a line or word or paragraph with the left and right arrow keys, JAWS will read out the character we just moved past. For example, if my cursor is at the end of the word “cat” and I press left arrow 3 times, I will hear JAWS say “t”, “a”, “c”.
With the cursor in position, press the delete button 24 times. What does JAWS do when we delete characters? What is this similar to doing?
As we delete characters, JAWS will read the character we are about to delete. For example, if my cursor is at the beginning of the sentence, “I love cats”, and I press delete 11 times, I will hear “space”, “l”, “o”, “v”, “e”, space,”c”, “a”, “t”, “s”. If you hear JAWS say “blank”, it means you’ve reached the end of your content. Deleting characters is similar to using the right arrow button.
Now press the Backspace button 12 times. In this instance, what does JAWS do? What is this similar to doing?
The Backspace button will delete characters to the left of the cursor. It is similar to moving through the line with the left arrow key.

Moving Through a Document

In our example document from above, see what happens when you use the up and down arrow keys. How does this differ from what JAWS did with the left and right arrow keys?
As you can see, the arrow keys move vertically between lines. As the cursor arrives on a new line, JAWS will read the entire line. This is different from left and right as those controls moved the cursor horizontally along and read characters.
What happens to the cursor and what does JAWS do when you press the Page Up button? How about when we press the Page Down button? What is this similar to?
The Page Up and Page Down buttons will move the cursor vertically through a document with half page jumps with each press. Continue pressing page up and you’ll arrive at the top of the document. Continue to press page down and you’ll arrive at the button. With each jump, JAWS will read the line.
The up and down keys and page up and page down are all great ways to move through a document.


Read Characters

Read Previous Character Numpad 4 (left arrow)
Read Current Character Numpad 5
Read Next Character Numpad 6 (right arrow)

Read Words

Read Previous Word Insert + Numpad 4 (left arrow)
Read Current Word Insert + Numpad 5
Read Next Word Insert + Numpad 6 (right arrow)

Read Lines

Read Previous Line Numpad 8 (up arrow)
Read Current Line Insert + Numpad 8
Read Next Line Numpad 2 (down arrow)

Read Sentences

Read Previous Sentence Alt + Numpad 8 (up arrow)
Read Current Sentence Alt + Numpad 5
Read Next Sentence Alt + Numpad 2 (down arrow)

Read Paragraphs

Read Previous Paragraph Ctrl + Numpad 8 (up arrow)
Read Current Paragraph Ctrl + Numpad 5
Read Next Paragraph Ctrl + Numpad 2 (down arrow)

Read To End

Read from cursor to end of document Insert + Numpad 2 (down arrow)

Changing the Speech Rate

An important part of working with a screen reader is setting the speech rate. In some instances, you’ll need the speaker to slow down. In other instances, you’ll want to speed up. This is especially important work working in a document as you will alter the speech rate depending on what you’re doing. For example, you might want the speaker to speed up when you’re having it read back a section you just finished writing.
JAWS gives you two different ways to change the speech rate. You can change the speech temporarily or permanently. Temporary changes are great for the purpose of editing, etc. Temporary changes are only retained while the active program where the change took place remains active. In other words, if you do a temporary change in Microsoft Word and then switch to Internet Explorer and back, you’ll find your speech rate has been reset to your permanent setting.
Temporarily Increase Reading Rate Ctrl + Alt + Page Up
Temporarily Decrease Reading Rate Ctrl + Alt + Page Down
Permanently Increase Reading Rate Win + Ctrl + Alt + Page Up
Permanently Decrease Reading Rate Win + Ctrl + Alt +Page Down

Selecting Text

Being able to select text is critical to working in a document. To highlight text hold shift and move the cursor.
Holding shift pressing the left or right arrow keys will highlight text one character at a time. Notice that you can only highlight in one direction at a time.
Since all the key commands we just learned for reading previous and next words, lines, and paragraphs also move the cursor, we can use them to highlight text.
Select previous/ next word Shift + Insert + Numpad 4 (left arrow)/ Numpad 5(right arrow)
Select previous/ next line Shift + Numpad 8 (up arrow)/ Numpad 2 (down arrow)
Select previous/ next paragraph Shift + Ctrl + Numpad 8 (up arrow)/ Numpad 2 (down arrow)
Holding shift and pressing Page Up and Page Down will select items by the half page.
Use the Windows hotkey Ctrl + A to select all the text in a document.

Using Selected Text

Now that you know how to select text, what to do? Well, there are a lot of things. You can read, copy, cut, delete, and replace it.
Read Shirt + Insert + Numpad 2 (down arrow)
Copy Ctrl + C
Cut Ctrl + X
Delete When text is selected, press Delete or Backspace to remove it.
Replace If you hit any character key while text is selected, the selected text will be replaced with the new input.
Text that is copied or cut is placed on the “clipboard”. The clipboard is an invisible space on your computer that temporarily stores data. Every time you use the clipboard, the old data is dumped for the new data.
Read the clipboard Insert + Windows Key + X
Paste the clipboard Ctrl + V

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