JAWS 2022 Update

What’s new in JAWS 2022?

This update to JAWS brings a lot of fixes and tweaks to existing features, but there are not any big new features in the 2022 version. Here are some things you should know about JAWS 2022.

Discontinued Support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

Freedom Scientific has discontinued their support of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. What does that mean? It means that JAWS 2022 cannot be installed on these operating systems. However, earlier versions of JAWS will continue to work, so if you have not upgraded yet, things should continue to perform as normal with your current version of JAWS or ZoomText Fusion. 

Voice Assistant Improvements

Freedom has continued to tweak and improve their 2021 Voice Assistant feature. In past versions, the default wake word for using the voice assistant was “Sharky”. In 2022, they changed it to “Hey Sharky.”

Another change is for Fusion users who can now say either “Hey Sharky” or “Hey Zoomy” to interact with either voice assistant (in the previous versions, Fusion users only could use the ZoomText voice assistant. Previously, Fusion users could only access ZoomText features using the voice assistant.

JAWS Tandem Changes

This is actually a change that was added to JAWS 2021 in November, but it was an easy one to miss, so I wanted to include it here. Freedom upgraded the security of the JAWS tandem and now Tandem only works for users with JAWS 2020 or later. Further, you’ll need to have the November 2021 updates to versions 2020 and 2021 for tandem to work. 

Want More Update Info?

There are many, many more updates and changes in version 2022. You can read about all the updates by following the links below:

What’s New in JAWS 2022 Screen Reading Software

What’s New in Fusion 2022 and ZoomText 2022

Universal Access: Adding Alt Text to Form Fields in Word

Accessible Forms in Word

Word is a great option to create accessible forms. When set up correctly (which will be outlined below), Word forms are intuitive and easy to use.

Enable Developer Tab

To add form fields to a Word document, you’ll first need to enable the developer tab to display in the ribbon. Fortunately, this is relatively easy:

  1. From Microsoft Word, open the File menu (Alt + F).
  2. In the File menu (Backstage view), go to Options (down arrow and then enter).
  3. The Word Options dialog will open. Go to Customize Ribbon (down arrow and then tab).
  4. In the list below Customize the Ribbon, find Developer and click the the check box to enable it (tab to navigate to “Ribbon Tree View”, then use the down arrow to navigate to Developer and press space bar to enable the Developer tab).
  5. Click the OK button (tab and then enter).

Legacy Form Fields

Now that the Developer Tab is enabled, we can add form fields to our document. Follow the steps below:

  1. In the ribbon, switch to the Developer tab (Alt, then right arrow, and then tab).
  2. In the Developer tab, go to the Controls Group and select Legacy Tools Submenu (tab and then enter). You may also choose to open this via the Alt path which would Alt, then L, and then N.
  3. The Legacy Tools dialog will open. Here you will find options for text box, check box, and combo box. There are the three types of controls we have at out disposal for Word forms. Choose the type of control you want to use (right and left arrows and then enter).

Adding Alt Text

You have your form fields, it is now time to put in your Alt Text. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the context menu on the form field you’d like to add Alt Text to (right click or use shift + F10).
  2. In the context menu, select properties (down arrow and then enter).
  3. The Text Form Field Options dialog will open. Select Add Help Text (tab and then enter).
  4. The Form Field Help Text dialog will open. In the Status Bar tab, select Type your own (tab, then down arrow).
  5. Type your Alt Text in the entry box.
  6. Press the Ok button in the Form Field Help Text dialog (Tab and then enter).
  7. Press the Ok button in the Form Field Options dialog (Tab and then enter).

Writing Effective Alt Text

Now, after all that work you’ve done, you want to make sure you’re adding effective Alt Text that helps your users fill out your form. Below is a link to a Microsoft Article that outlines best practices for writing Alt Text:

Everything you need to know to write effective alt text

Keep in mind when writing Alt Text that a screen reader user will not be able to access any text in the form aside from the Alt Text added to form controls.

Locking Your Document

The last step to make your Form accessible is to lock editing on the form. This will stop your users from accidentally deleting form elements or getting lost in the textual portions on the form. This will also allow users to navigate between form controls using tab and shift + tab. Before you follow the steps below, make sure to save your document.

  1. Once again go to the ribbon and then open the Developer tab (Alt, then left/ right arrow, and then tab).
  2. On the Developer tab, select Restrict Editing (tab and then press enter). You may also wish to use the Alt path to reach Restrict Editing by pressing Alt, then L, then P, and then E.
  3. The Restrict Editing pane will open. Enable the “Allow only this type of editing in the document” check box (tab and then space bar).
  4. A Combo box below the “Allow only this type of editing in the document” check box will become enabled. Select Filling in Forms with the combo box (tab, then arrow keys, and then enter).
  5. Finally, press the “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection” button (tab and then enter).
  6. The Start Enforcing Protection dialog will open. This dialog asks you to input a password to protect your document and stop others from disabling your protection. Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not you require a password. If you want to add a password, type out your intended password and then repeat the password in the Re-enter password to confirm field (tab). If you don’t want a password, leave both these fields blank.
  7. Press the Ok button (tab and then enter).

Finishing Up

Hopefully, you were able to follow all the steps outlined above to create form fields with Alt Text in Word. Remember, your alt text cannot be read visually by the end user, so don’t forget about about users who will be filling out the form visually.

JAWS 2021 Updates: Voice Assistant

Meet Sharky

JAWS 2021 introduces a new feature – a voice assistant that will help users with various JAWS features using natural speech. Think of it like Amazon Alexa but for JAWS. So, how does it work? It’s easy, you simply say “Sharky”. You’ll hear a tone in response and an image of a microphone will briefly appear on the screen. After hearing a Voice Command, the voice assistant will play a different tone. You can also wake up the voice assistant by pressing Insert + Alt + Spacebar.

What Can Sharky Do?

So, what can Sharky do? Sharky can do a variety of JAWS features. These include the following list:

Help
Talk faster
Talk slower
Change settings
Command search
What time is it
List links
List headings
List spelling errors
Tell me a joke

This is not an exhaustive list. A full list of commands is at the end of this post under the heading Full Voice Command List. You can also learn more and to view a full list of voice commands for specific actions by saying “Sharky, help.” You can also select Getting Started from the Voice Assistant menu. Sharky has commands for the web, Word, Outlook, OCR, and more.

If Sharky doesn’t hear what you asked, they will respond: “Sorry, I didn’t hear anything.” However, if you give Sharky a command that it outside its repertoire, it will instead respond: “Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

A Couple Things to Consider

  1. Give time for processing and response.

    Since all voice recognition processing is performed over the Internet using Microsoft Services in the cloud, there will be a slight delay depending on your connection. Be patient and experiment with different commands. This is a new technology being added to our software products and will continue to change and evolve over time. We welcome your suggestions and feedback.
  2. You can disable the Voice Assistant if you don’t want it on.

    To turn off the Voice Assistant or change other options, such as whether or not JAWS listens for the wake word or to turn off the sounds, open the JAWS Utilities menu, expand the Voice Assistant submenu, and then select Settings. If you want to turn the Voice Assistant on, from the JAWS main window, press ALT+U to open the Utilities menu, expand the Voice Assistant submenu, and then select Talk to JAWS.
  3. Microphone considerations.

    The JAWS Voice Assistant uses your computer’s internal microphone or you can talk to it using an external microphone or headset. The wake word is not available if you are using a Bluetooth microphone. In this case, you must use the keystroke before speaking the voice command.
  4. Languages.

    Supported languages include English, Dutch, German, Spanish, and French.

Final Thoughts

Additional features and functions for the Voice Assistant are going to be added as the year goes on, so the Voice Assistant will continue to improve and expand.

Full Voice Assistant Command List

Below is the full list of Voice Assistant commands as of JAWS version 2021.2102.34 that comes directly from JAWS Help.

General Voice Commands

“Display the Voice Assistant help topic” or “Help”
“Display the Window List dialog box” or “Window list”
“Display the Commands Search dialog box” or “Command search”
“Display the Keyboard Manager dialog box” or “Keyboard Manager”
“Display the Dictionary Manager dialog box” or “Dictionary Manager”
“Display the Settings Center dialog box” or “Settings”
“Temporarily increase the voice rate” or “Increase voice rate”
“Temporarily decrease the voice rate” or “Decrease voice rate”
“Temporarily set the voice rate to [number] (Example, set voice rate to 100.)” or “Set voice rate to [number] (Example, set voice rate to 100.)”
“Toggle the screen shade” or “Toggle screen shade”
“Toggle the audio ducking” or “Toggle audio ducking”
“Toggle the speech on demand” or “Toggle speech on demand”
“Use the JAWS Cursor” or “JAWS Cursor”
“Use the PC Cursor” or “PC Cursor”
“Use the Touch Cursor” or “Touch Cursor”
“Toggle the Virtual PC cursor” or “Toggle Virtual PC cursor”
“Copy the speech history to the clipboard” or “Copy speech history”
“OCR the selected file” or “OCR file”
“OCR the PDF contents” or “OCR PDF”
“OCR the current window” or “OCR window”
“OCR the screen” or “OCR screen”
“OCR the current control” or “OCR control”
“OCR from a camera” or “OCR camera”
“OCR from a scanner” or “OCR scanner”
“Stop the OCR” or “Stop OCR”
“Tell me a joke” or “Joke”

Web Pages

“Display the list of links” or “List links”
“Display the list of headings” or “List headings”
“Display the list of graphics” or “List graphics”
“Display the list of tables” or “List tables”
“Display the list of form fields” or “List form fields”

Item Lists in Word

“Display the list of links” or “List links”
“Display the list of headings” or “List headings”
“Display the list of graphics” or “List graphics”
“Display the list of tables” or “List tables”
“Display the list of form fields” or “List form fields”
“Display the list of comments” or “List comments”
“Display the list of grammatical errors” or “List grammatical errors”
“Display the list of spelling errors” or “List spelling errors”

Navigation in Word

“Go to the first comment” or “First comment”
“Go to the next comment” or “Next comment”
“Go to the previous comment” or “Previous comment”
“Go to the last comment” or “Last comment”
“Go to the first grammatical error” or “First grammatical error”
“Go to the next grammatical error” or “Next grammatical error”
“Go to the previous grammatical error” or “Previous grammatical error”
“Go to the last grammatical error” or “Last grammatical error”
“Go to the first spelling error” or “First spelling error”
“Go to the next spelling error” or “Next spelling error”
“Go to the previous spelling error” or “Previous spelling error”
“Go to the last spelling error” or “Last spelling error”
“Go to the first heading” or “First heading”
“Go to the next heading” or “Next heading”
“Go to the previous heading” or “Previous heading”
“Go to the last heading” or “Last heading”
“Go to the first table” or “First table”
“Go to the next table” or “Next table”
“Go to the previous table” or “Previous table”
“Go to the last table” or “Last table”
“Go to the first page” or “First page”
“Go to the next page” or “Next page”
“Go to the previous page” or “Previous page”
“Go to the last page” or “Last page”
“Go to the first field” or “First field”
“Go to the next field” or “Next field”
“Go to the previous field” or “Previous field”
“Go to the last field” or “Last field”
“Go to the first section” or “First section”
“Go to the next section” or “Next section”
“Go to the previous section” or “Previous section”
“Go to the last section” or “Last section”

General Outlook Navigation

“Go to the Calendar view” or “Calendar”
“Go to the Messages view” or “Messages”
“Go to the Contacts view” or “Contacts”
“Go to the Tasks view” or “Tasks”
“Go to the Notes view” or “Notes”

Navigating Outlook Messages

“Go to Attachments” or “Attachments”
“Display the list of links” or “List links”
“Display the list of headings” or “List headings”
“Display the list of graphics” or “List graphics”
“Display the list of tables” or “List tables”
“Display the list of grammatical errors” or “List grammatical errors”
“Display the list of spelling errors” or “List spelling errors”

JAWS 2021 Updates: OCR Directly into a Word Document

What is JAWS OCR?

JAWS OCR is a feature that performs Ocular Character Recognition (OCR) on graphics, documents, application windows, and the computer screen. What is OCR? It is process wherein textual information is generated from an image file, thereby making is accessible to screen reading software.

Why would one want to use OCR? Many times screen reader users may encounter files or images (etc.) that visually contain text but JAWS can’t read them. For example, if I take a picture of street sign, there is no way for a screen reader to read the text on the sign. There is no textual data in that image file. However, if I use a program to perform OCR on the image, now I have text that can be read.

A more common use of OCR is dealing with scanned documents. If I have a printed document and I put it through a scanner, the file that I get on my computer is little more than an image. Visually, all the text can be read. However, the file contains no text, so JAWS would not be able to tell you anything about it. If you take that file and perform OCR, you can generate text for JAWS to read.

How do you use JAWS OCR?

Perform OCR on the current control (such as a graphical button) | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then C
Perform OCR on the current application window | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then W
Perform OCR on the entire screen | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then S
Perform OCR on a PDF document | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then D
Perform OCR on a file | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then R
Cancel OCR in progress | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then Q
Get OCR help info | Insert + Spacebar, then O, then Question Mark (Shift + Forward Slash)

Perform OCR on a control

Let’s go through instances in which we’d use the commands above, because there are a lot of them. Starting at the top, why perform OCR on the current control? This would likely be a troubleshooting step. It’s relatively common that we encounter a button in an application or in webpage that JAWS calls blank or unlabeled or simply has no information on. Many times, the developed forgot to add this description because the purpose of the control is indicated visually. Imagine a button that says “Print” on it, but JAWS calls the button blank. Using JAWS OCR, we can read the visual text on this type of control.

Perform OCR on the application window

Similar to above, this feature, in my mind, would be much more commonly used as a troubleshooting feature rather than a way to do reading. So, when might you use it? Possibly on an application that JAWS is encountering a lot of unlabeled or blank information. Maybe a particularly inaccessible webpage? Or a piece of software that hasn’t been designed for JAWS?

Perform OCR on the entire screen

Again, this feature is more for troubleshooting than reading documents, etc. I might use this feature is my PC is performing strangely, and I am suspicious there is a pop-up window on the screen. In some instances, messages or alerts from certain application or system software can pop-up on the screen. Despite the messages being displayed on the screen, JAWS can’t actually get these windows in focus, they only respond to the mouse pointer. If that were the case, you could use the screen OCR feature to see what might be lurking on your screen.

Perform OCR on a PDF document

This is where the fun begins for JAWS OCR. As we saw above, the first three commands were more there for troubleshooting. However, document OCR allows us to read those files lacking textual data. So, I open a PDF and JAWS has nothing to say? I perform my JAWS OCR document command (Insert + Spacebar, then O, then D). JAWS will say that OCR has started, then a new window will open with my text results. I can read through the text results the same way I would read anything, using the up and down arrows. I can Alt + Tab away from the document window and come back. Very easy!

Perform OCR on a file (New in JAWS 2021)

This last feature is what was added with JAWS 2021. Now, a JAWS user has the ability to scan an inaccessible document from Windows File Explorer. But why? Can’t you just open a PDF a read it that way? Yes – but this feature is a little different. Instead of opening in a JAWS results viewer window, you can have the results sent directly to a Word document. Further, you can use this feature without having to remember any key commands. From file explorer, use Shift + F10 to open the context menu on the document you want to scan. Then, you’ll now see options in the context menu to use Convenient OCR to Word with JAWs and Convenient OCR with JAWS.

JAWS 2021 Updates: Picture Smart Improvements

What is Picture Smart?

Picture Smart is a feature built into JAWS (starting with the 2019 version) that allows users to submit images for analysis. Why would you want to analyze a photo? To get a textual description and info of the picture. Below are the keyboard commands to use Picture Smart. As you can see, there are different keystroke combinations contexts we may encounter images.

Describe a photo acquired from the Pearl Camera or a flatbed scanner | Insert + Spacebar, then P, then A

Describe a selected image in Windows File Explorer | Insert + Spacebar, then P, then F

Describe the current control | Insert + Spacebar, then P, then C

Describe an image on the Windows Clipboard | Insert + Spacebar, then P, then B

Example of Using Picture Smart: Describing Current Control

We’ll try it out. Below is a picture of me. The photo is a selfie of me giving a thumbs up to the camera.

Photo of Jimmy to use with JAWS Picture Smart

We’ll start out as if we had this image open in Photos app in Windows 10 (that is a default photo viewer in Windows 10, so this would be what we would likely get if we opened the image file). So, for this one, I am going to use the command to get a description of the current control (Insert + Spacebar, then P, then C). When I do this, JAWS will say “Picture Smart in Progress”. Then, a new window opens that contains the textual analysis of my image. This window is titled Picture Smart Results. You can Alt + Tab away from the Window and return to it. Below is what the results window tells me about my image:

Caption is a man in glasses looking at the camera.

These tags describe the photo

human face, person, smile, text.

These tags probably describe the photo

glasses, indoor.

This tag possibly describes the photo

man.

So, how did it do? Pretty well. The picture is me smiling and giving thumbs up. From the results, we got the following info pointing to me: human face, person, smile, glasses, and man. We also learned the image is indoors. The results also said text, which may lead you to believe that I might have added some text to this photo. I did not. What that seems to be pointing to is the text in the Photos app interface. We can see this for ourselves in a moment.

At the bottom of the picture Smart Results Window, there is a link labeled More results. If we activate this link, we’ll hear JAWS once again say “Picture Smart is in Progress”. Then our Picture Smart Results Window gets updated with expanded results. Below are those expanded results.

Caption is a man in glasses looking at the camera.

Total number of faces in this photo is 1.

This text appears in the photo

Photos – IMG 6158.JPG
A See all photos

  • Add to
    A Edit & Create v
    IA Share.

These objects appear in the photo

Ceiling fan, Glasses.

This object probably appears in the photo

Person.

These tags describe the photo

Ceiling fan, Eye, Eyebrow, Glasses, Hand, human face, person, Smile, text, Vision care.

These tags probably describe the photo

Gesture, Happy, indoor, Jaw.

This tag possibly describes the photo

man.

As you can see, the More results link gave us a bit more information on the image. Specifically, we learned what that text result was pointing to: the text in the Photos app interface (i.e. Add to, A Edit & Create v, IA Share). We also got some info about the background (Ceiling fan). It wasn’t able to tell us that I was making a thumbs up, but it did include gesture as a possible tag.

Example of Using Picture Smart: Describing Selected Image in Windows File Explorer

Lets try again, but this time we will use the command to launch picture smart from Windows File Explorer (Insert + Spacebar, then P, then F). Very similar as our last command, we get a Smart Results Window. Below is the information it gives us:

Caption is a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera.

These tags describe the photo

glasses, human face, man, person.

These tags probably describe the photo

indoor, selfie, smile.

Did we learn anything new? Not really, pretty similar to when we used the control command from the Photos app. However, this time we did get the word Selfie, which was missing from our first attempt with the control command. What happens when we select more results this time? Take a look below.

Caption is a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera.

Total number of faces in this photo is 1.

These objects probably appear in the photo

Ceiling fan, Glasses, Person.

These tags describe the photo

glasses, Hand, human face, Light, man, Organ, person, Photograph, Smile, Thumbs signal, Vision care.

These tags probably describe the photo

Ceiling fan, Gesture, indoor, selfie.

Again, we have pretty similar results as we did with the control command. However, this time we did get the tag thumbs signal, which I have to interpret as meaning thumbs up.

So, that is the JAWS Picture Smart. But what did they add in 2021?

JAWS 2021 Picture Smart Improvements

Below are the features added to Picture Smart in JAWS 2021.

Describing images on web pages

From Freedom Scientific: “If focused on an image that is part of a web page, such as a photo on Facebook, pressing INSERT+SPACEBARP followed by C now describes the photo.”

Let’s try this out. I went to my Facebook page and found a picture I posted of my three sons (5, 3, and 1 at the time) sitting on a couch watching a movie. Below is the actual Image:

Photo of Jimmy's kids from Facebook to use with JAWS Picture Smart.

Now, before we use Picture Smart, lets see what Facebook’s automatic Alt Text describes this picture as: May be a picture of one person and baby. Not very descriptive or entirely correct. Now, lets try it with Picture Smart.

Caption is a baby sitting on a couch.

These tags describe the photo

baby, boy, child, clothing, human face, indoor, person, sofa.

These tags probably describe the photo

infant, smile.

These tags possibly describe the photo

newborn, seat.

This tag vaguely describes the photo

toddler.

As you can see, the Picture Smart gave us a little more info than Facebook. Now, lets check out the more info link:

Caption is a baby sitting on a couch.

Total number of faces in this photo is 3.

These objects probably appear in the photo

Person, Top.

This object possibly appears in the photo

Clothing.

These tags describe the photo

baby, boy, child, clothing, Comfort, Couch, Eye, Facial expression, Furniture, Head, human face, indoor, Organ, person, Smile, sofa.

These tags probably describe the photo

infant, Living room, Sharing.

These tags possibly describe the photo

newborn, seat.

This tag vaguely describes the photo

toddler.

Like before, More results gives us the most complete description of the image. Without More results, you’d likely be unsure how many people the image contained. Note that you need to navigate to the image on the web for the command to work correctly. If you try it in the wrong place, JAWS will tell you that the control is not an image.

Submitting images to multiple services to help improve accuracy 

From Freedom Scientific: “By default, images are submitted to Microsoft for analyzing. However, the Results Viewer now contains a More Results link which submits the image again to additional services for analyzing and displays an updated description. You can also add SHIFT to a Picture Smart command to use multiple services. For example, INSERT+SPACEBARP followed by SHIFT+FSHIFT+C, or SHIFT+B.”

We’ve already seen what the More results link can bring us. From the two images we’ve looked at, it seems like More results gives us a better idea of the image than the standard results. Using the shift key as outlined above, you might save yourself some time and jump straight to more results.

Using Picture Smart in multiple languages

From Freedom Scientific: “If you are using JAWS or Fusion in a language other than English and you attempt to use Picture Smart, JAWS and Fusion will use machine translation to display descriptions in the particular language. You can also manually choose from 38 languages for displaying results, configurable using the new Picture Smart Language option in Settings Center.”

More languages are always a great feature.

Update: Use Picture Smart from File Explorer

You can perform Picture Smart scanning without having to remember the keyboard command! How? If you have a file in Windows File Explorer, simply navigate to it and open the context menu (Shift + F10). In the menu, you’ll see an option Picture Smart with JAWS. Simply activate this option and JAWS will perform Picture Smart on your image file.

JAWS Topic: Transferring NLS Books from Downloads to USB

  1. Open Windows File Explorer by pressing the Windows button and E.
  2. Use Shift + Tab to move from the Item list to the tree view.
  3. Use the up and down arrows to navigate to your downloads folder.
  4. Press enter to open the downloads folder and then tab to move into the list view.
  5. Use the up and down arrows to navigate to your book.
  6. From your book, use Shift + F10 to open the context menu.
  7. Use down arrow to navigate to extract all and press enter.
  8. The Extract Compressed dialog will open. Press enter.
  9. A file explorer window with your extracted files will open. Use Alt + F4 to close it. This will return you to the initial file explorer window.
  10. Use the down arrow to find the extracted copy of your book. It will appear below the zipped version. If you are unsure you have the correct version, press right arrow twice on the book. The extracted version should have be type file folder.
  11. Use Ctrl + C to copy your extracted book.
  12. Use Shift + Tab to move from the list view to the tree view.
  13. Use the up and down arrow to navigate the tree view to find your external drive.
  14. Press enter to open your external drive and then tab to move into the list view.
  15. Use the down arrow to move through the items on your external drive. If you’d like to clear your external drive, use Ctrl + A to select all and then delete to clear the contents. If your drive is already empty, you will get no voice feedback when you use the arrow keys.
  16. Use Ctrl + V to paste your extracted book onto your external drive. 

Adaptive Apps for iOS (2020 Edition)

Work and School Apps for the Blind

Below is a list of adaptive apps for iPad and iPhone that I typically recommend to folks. This list is mostly comprised of apps to support people at work and in school. This is not a comprehensive list, so I apologize if I miss your favorite.

Voice Dream Reader

This app makes reading text feel like listening to an audio book. The app reads a variety of documents with its own synthesized voice. It tracks your progress, offers a variety of options for audio and visual accommodations, and allows you to create notes, highlights, and bookmarks. You can import a variety of documents (HTML, Word, PDF, ePub). It will perform OCR on documents that do not include textual data. Further, it is setup to work with Bookshare, Google Drive, Dropbox, Project Gutenberg, and more.

Voice Dream Reader has a one-time cost of $14.99 on the Appstore. It comes with one free voice profile. Additional voices can be purchased for $4.99.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on Voice Dream Reader: It is tempting to call Voice Dream Reader an eBook reader but that would be misleading. While it does read eBooks from Bookshare, Gutenberg, or anything in DAISY or ePub format, almost all eBook platforms do not work with it. For example, I can’t purchase books from Kindle and hope to read them in the app. Regardless, this app is awesome for those dealing with lots of documents, taking classes, or using Bookshare.

Find Voice Dream Reader on the Appstore

Hadley School for the Blind Tutorial on Voice Dream Reader

Voice Dream Scanner

From the makers of Voice Dream Reader, Voice Dream Scanner is a print OCR app that works better than any other OCR product on the market. This app has great recognition and makes grabbing scans easier than ever. You can even take a scan of a page that is completely upside down and get fantastic recognition.

Voice Dream Scanner is available on the Appstore for $5.99.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on Voice Dream Scanner: Voice Dream Scanner is amazing. It has completely supplanted knfbReader as my go-to OCR app. The app is easy and powerful. Highly recommended.

Find Voice Dream Scanner on the Appstore

Walk through of Voice Dream Reader and Voice Dream Scanner by IllegallySighted

Seeing AI

From Microsoft, Seeing AI is a multifaceted app that can do a variety of functions: OCR, barcode scanning, money reading, image description, color ID, and light detection.

The app is free and available on the AppStore.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on Seeing AI: I think everyone should have this app. It has such a wide variety of features, and it is free! However, if I had serious OCR needs, I would highly recommend Voice Dream Scanner. Some folks find navigating the interface of the app to be somewhat difficult, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re confident with your VoiceOver skills.

Find Seeing AI on the Appstore
Review of Seeing AI by the Blind Life
Microsoft Seeing AI Tutorial Series

BARD Mobile

BARD Mobile offers audio books and audio magazines from the National Library Service.

The app is free but you must have a BARD Mobile account which can be easily setup by becoming a patron of the ABLE library.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on BARD Mobile: A great free resource. BARD Mobile has a similar collection of works as you would find at a public library – general reference, popular reading, and bestsellers.

Find Bard Mobile on the AppStore
Become a Member of the NLS Talking Books Program
Vermont ABLE Library

NFB Newsline

This app offers eText versions of daily newspapers and magazines. They have a wide collection of local (Burlington Free Press, Rutland Herald, Seven Days, etc.) and national newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Herald). They also have many magazines. You can become a member by signing up with DBVI, so please contact me if you’re interested.

This app is free to download, but you’ll need a membership to access the content.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on NFB Newsline: If you’re working with DBVI, you qualify for NFB Newsline. If you get your news elsewhere or are not interested, feel free to skip. But this is an amazing free resource.

Find NFB Newsline on the Appstore

NFB Newsline App Spotlight from IllegalySighted

BlindSquare

Blindsquare is a GPS app to support folks with outdoor navigation. There are several GPS apps available for blind and visually impaired users. There are also dedicated GPS devices that perform in the same way. BlindSquare remains to be one of the best options on the market for GPS. The app works in tandem with your favorite map app (Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.) to provide you with turn by turn walking directions and local information.

Blindsquare is available for the one-time cost of $39.99 on the Appstore. You can also spend additional money to unlock voice commands for the app.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on Blindsquare: My feeling about GPS apps and devices are that they are for folks who are extremely solid in their O&M abilities. These apps and devices are in no way a replacement for any O&M skills. Instead, they provide you with extra information and tools. For some, it is way too much information and they find trying to practice good O&M while listening to their phone give them updates and directions to be completely overwhelming. However, apps and devices like Blindsquare can provide people with extra tools to increase their independence.

Find Blindsquare on the Appstore

Blindsquare tutorials by BESTA11Y

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.

Be My Eyes is free.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on Be My Eyes: This is another mandatory app for blind and visually impaired users. It is free and easy to use. I have heard enough stories from clients about how the app was a life saver to recommend it without a doubt. Download it now.

Find Be My Eyes on the Appstore

Be My Eyes App Demonstration and Review by Blind to Billionaire

Fantastical

Fantastical is an awesome calendar app that makes creating appointments and managing your events much easier for blind and low vision users. Rather than displaying your calendar in a difficult to navigate grid, the app gives you your calendar in a text list that is simple and clear. It is extremely easy to setup – you simply download and allow it access to your calendar, reminders, and contacts. Any accounts setup in your phone are automatically imported. Further, you can continue to use Siri to create and manage your calendar as well.

This app is free but offers premium membership that includes extra features and daily weather forecasts for $4.99 a month or $39.99 a year.

Jimmy’s Thoughts on Fantastical: This app is great for folks with good VoiceOver skills who want to manage their calendar. The premium membership isn’t necessary to get what you need from the app. Note that this app was $4.99 until very recently, it is now free.

Find Fantastical on the Appstore

JAWS Topic: Zoom Cloud Meetings

Downloading Zoom for Windows

Zoom is available on the web, as an app for Android and iOS, and as a Windows 10 application. For this guide, we’re going to be focusing on the Windows 10 application as it is the best way to use Zoom as a JAWS user.

The first step on the Zoom journey is to download the app for Windows.

Download Zoom for Windows 10

Once the program is installed, open it. Now, you’ll need to create an account.

Creating a Zoom Account

The Zoom account creation process is relatively straight forward. You can either set up an entirely new account or create an account from your Facebook or Google accounts.

How to Join or Start a Meeting

There are a couple different ways you might find your way to a Zoom Meeting. The first is by following a link in an email. If you do so on a computer with the Zoom application, the application will open.

You may also go to the application, tab to New Meeting, and press enter. You’ll then get a pop-up Window asking for the meeting ID. You can simply type in the ID of your meeting (provided by the meeting organizer).

Finally, you can start your own meeting. Simply tab to New Meeting and press enter.

Basic Zoom Commands for Meetings

The Zoom for Windows interface is relatively straight forward and can be navigated easily using Tab and Shift + Tab. In some instances, you might instead need to use F6 and Shift + F6.

Turn on/off always show meeting control toolbar | Alt
More info: By default the toolbar will timeout and hide. Press Alt to keep this from happening.

Mute/unmute audio | Alt + A

Start/Stop Video | Alt + V

Raise/lower hand | Alt + Y

Display/hide Participants panel | Alt + U
More info: Alt + U will open the chat panel. Here you can view your participants

Open Invite window | Alt + I
More info: Alt + I will open the invites window. Here you can invite additional participants.

Display/hide In-Meeting Chat panel | Alt + H
More info: Alt + H will open the chat panel. Here you can type text messages to other meeting participants. More on chat and alert controls below.

Alert and Chat Controls

Hear most recent chat alerts | Ctrl + 1 through 0
More info: Press Ctrl + 1 through to Ctrl + 0 to hear the 10 most recent chat messages. Press twice quickly to virtualise. Now available in the primary Zoom interface and in a meeting.

Switch between recent chats and recent alerts | Ctrl + F5
More info: Press Ctrl + F5 to enable or disable a special feature where only chat messages are output using Ctrl + 1 through to Ctrl + 0. If enabled, this will ensure that messages such as “You have muted the computer audio” are not spoken when using these keystrokes. Moreover, people seem to drop in and out of meetings at an alarming rate, and if all you want to do is to flick through your chat messages then hearing other announcements is superfluous. Now available in the primary Zoom interface and in a meeting.

Mute announcements and alerts | Alt + Windows + S
More info: When in a meeting, use Alt + Windows + S to enable or disable the announcement of Alerts, such as when someone has left the meeting room. Note that with the free scripts alerts are only suppressed from within the Zoom client at this time.

Hear last alert | Alt + Windows + A
More info: Press Alt + Windows + A to hear the last alert, even if it was not spoken. This should enable you, for example, to ascertain whether someone has entered the room, but you are in control of that output.

Verify whether alerts are enabled or disabled | Insert + Tab

Screen Sharing

Launch share screen window and stop screen share | Alt + S
More info: Alt + S will only work to launch and stop screen share when meeting control toolbar has focus.

Start/stop new screen share | Alt + Shift + S
More info: Alt + Shift + S only work to start and stop screen share when meeting control toolbar has focus

Pause or resume screen share | Alt + T
More info: Alt + T will only work to pause or resume screen sharing when meeting control toolbar has focus

Gain Remote Control | Alt + Shift + R
More info: Remote control allows another participant to gain control of your screen.

Stop Remote Control | Alt + Shift + G

Move focus to Zoom’s meeting controls | Ctrl + Alt + Shift

Show/Hide floating meeting controls | Ctrl + Alt + Shift + H

For Meeting Organizers

Mute/unmute audio for everyone except host | Alt + M

More Training Resources for Zoom

Freedom Scientific recently did a webinar on using Zoom with JAWS.

JAWS and Zoom, a Lesson on Learning from Freedom Scientific

Further, Jonathan Mosen recently made his book “Meet Me Accessibly – A Guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a Blindness Perspective” free to download.

Meet Me Accessibly – A Guide to Zoom Cloud Meetings from a Blindness Perspective from Mosen Consulting

JAWS Topic: Google Chrome

Starting Google Chrome

When Google Chrome starts, JAWS is focused on the address bar. From here, you can type in a web address (ex. http:/Wikipedia.org) or a search (“pottery classes near me”, “What do hamsters eat?”, etc.).

Basic Commands

Move focus to address bar | Ctrl + L

Go back | Alt + Left Arrow

Go forward | Alt + Right Arrow

Reload page | F5

Open settings menu | Alt + E

Open a new window | Ctrl + N

Dealing with Tabs

Tabs can be frustrating to deal with for JAWS users. However, they are easy to manage with a couple of important commands.

Switch between open tabs | Ctrl + Tab

Open a specific tab | Ctrl + 1 through 8

Open the rightmost tab | Ctrl + 9

Close current tab | Ctrl + F4

Open a new tab | Ctrl + T

How to Avoid Tabs

Some links are programmed to open as a new tab. If you want to avoid these at all costs, follow the steps below.

  1. Move your focus to the link you want to open. Don’t activate the link yet.
  2. Open the context menu on the link. You can do this by pressing Shift + F10 or by using the context key on your keyboard (Note – not all keyboards have a context key).
  3. Use your arrow keys to navigate the context menu. Choose open link as new window.

Bookmarks

Bookmarks (or “Favorites” if you’re coming from Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge) are fairly easy to manage in Google Chrome.

Add current page to bookmarks | Ctrl + D

Open the Bookmarks Manager | Use Alt + E to open the Chrome menu, then use the arrow keys to navigate to Bookmarks and press enter. Use the arrow keys to navigate to Bookmarks Manager.

Managing Bookmarks in Bookmark Manager

To manage bookmarks, tab past the bookmark you want to move, copy, or delete and press enter on the more info button.

Move a bookmark | From the more info menu, select cut. Then tab to the Tree view. Use the arrow keys to navigate tree view. When you locate the folder, you’d like to move your bookmark to, press Ctrl + V.

Copy a bookmark | From the more info menu, select copy. Then tab to the Tree view. Use the arrow keys to navigate tree view. When you locate the folder, you’d like to copy your bookmark to, press Ctrl + V.

Delete a bookmark | From the more info menu, select delete.

More Commands

 

Open History | Ctrl + H

Open Downloads | Ctrl + J

Jump to Recent Download | Shift + F6

JAWS Topic: Facebook Page Events

  1. Using the links list (Insert + F7), go to Pages.
  2. On the following page, open the links list and go to your Facebook Page. For example, if my Facebook page is titles “Vermont DBVI Training”, I will find a Vermont DBVI Training link.
  3. Using the links list, go to Events.
  4. Using the links list, go to Create Event.
  5. Use the quick key e to move into the Event Name field. Add your event name and press tab.
  6. The next field is Location, add the location of your event and press tab.
  7. The next fields are for the date of your event. The alt text isn’t great for this series of drop down boxes. However, they appear in the following order: Month, Day, Year. Further, each has default data that will help you identify the box you’re in. For example, if the current content of drop down box you’re on is February, you can be sure you’re on the month field. Use the up and down arrows to select the date, tabbing to move from box to box.
  8. The next fields are for the start time of your event. Similarly, the three drop down boxes for entering the start time of your event also are lacking in alt text. We’ll employ a similar strategy to fill out these boxes as we did with the date fields. The time boxes appear in this order: hour, minute, AM or PM. Use the up and down arrows to select the time, tabbing to move from box to box.
  9. The next field is the event description. Note that this field lacks alt text and JAWS announces it as: “Region edit, type in text”. This box is important for describing the event, including contact information, pricing, special instructions, etc.
  10. The last field is the Privacy controls. By default, your event will be private – meaning that only Facebook members you invite will be able to view it. Make sure to hit down arrow to set the event to Public Event.
  11. Press tab to move to Continue and press enter.