The Jaws for Windows software is a screen reader that allows people with visual disabilities and deafblind people to use a device with a Microsoft Windows operating system in a totally autonomous way.
Jaws is a very powerful and complex software due to the countless configuration and customization options it has, as well as the large number of tools available. For this reason, it's necessary to understand first the operation of the program to analyze later the most relevant menus and options, as well as the most important tools.
screen reader operation is the next . Jaws verbalizes screen content aloud, and/or shows it on a Braille display connected to the computer when the user navigates through keyboard commands, moves the mouse or makes a gesture on a touch screen.
For the movement through the screen and the interaction with the elements of it, Jaws has losts of commands, either shortcuts or gestures. These commands can be basic, such as moving with arrow keys, or more complex ones. However, using only basic commands it's possible to work with the system.
In addition, Jaws has a lot of configuration options, as well as some tools that expand and / or improve its functionality. Due to the above, an analysis of the most relevant options and tools of the software will be carried out.
Generally, he interaction of Jaws with the system is done through a series of commands or gestures, although it's also possible to use the mouse.
In relation to the commands, there are a series of basic or general commands with which it's possible to interact with the system. These commands use the arrow keys, the Alt key, the Window key, the Applications key, the Tab key and the function keys, alone or in combination with the Control key or the Shift key. In addition, Jaws uses the Insert key, key 0 of the numpad, as a Jaws key for Jaws' own commands.
The basic or general commands allow scrolling through the screen or reading text, among other actions. So, it can be moved through an application menu and its different options, or interact with webpage buttons or links. It's also possible to scroll through the content of a text by characters, words, lines or paragraphs.
Jaws also has specific commands for the most popular applications used in Windows. Among these applications are those belonging to Microsoft's office suite, web browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, or Adobe Reader.
Regarding the gestures, these use one or two fingers and can be taps, flicks, swipes, rotating or pinching. To be able to use them, it's necessary that the device has a touch screen with at least five touch points.
Regarding the use of the mouse, if the mouse echo option is activated, Jaws will verbalize the text when the mouse pointer moves over that text. It's not a form of navigation in itself of Jaws, but it's a very interesting complement that can improve the understanding of the visual element spatial distribution on the screen and/or read elements that cannot be accessed with the commands of navigation.
Jaws has a menu with many submenus and options that allow to the user to configure a wide variety of aspects, which allows a huge customization of the application according to the preferences and needs of each user.
Below a brief description of the most relevant menu options is made.
As its name suggests, it allows the user to make a basic configuration of Jaws. Among the options available here is the possibility to configure if Jaws starts on the home screen or with which users it starts automatically.
It's also possible to indicate if you want Jaws to verbalize learning messages, shortcuts, when Jaws is closed or if there are updates, among other options.
This menu consists of two submenus, which allow to the user to configure aspects of the voice, such as the language, the speed of the same or the puntuation that is read, as well as selecting which voice you want to use as default or Jaws voice.
This menu allows select if a Braille display will be used or not, as well as to configure different aspects related to the Braille options. It's also possible from here to access Braille display Wizard to add a refreshable Braille display.
Synthesizer sintetizadores and Braille Display Wizard
This menu option allows the user to add new speech synthesizers or Braille displays to Jaws, as well as check the ones that are already installed. It's also possible to uninstall any speech synthesizer or Braille display installed.
This menu option accesses most configuration and customization options for Jaws. From here you can configure aspects related to user options, text processing, voice options, Braille, cursors, punctuation or keyboard, among others.
Thanks to this manager, the user can control the operation of Jaws to the smallest detail, which allows him to adapt the screen reader to his specific needs.
Jaws has different tools that complement or extend the functionality of the screen reader. Among these tools, the following can be highlighted:
This tool allows Jaws to recognize text contained in images captured from a scanner or the PEARL camera, as well as from non-accessible image or PDF files. It's also possible to recognize the text of an image on the screen, such as the window of an application or the menu of a DVD.
Thanks to this Convenient OCR, the user can access software or menus that would otherwise be illegible by not being accessible. In addition, Convenient OCR offers the possibility of reading the textual information contained in images or graphic documents in a fast and simple way.
It also allows describing the content of images, but only in English interface, so its operation has not been analyzed.
This tool does not provide any improvement in terms of the use of the computer, but allows the computer to control or be controlled remotely, while both computers have installed Jaws. Thanks to this tool, a user can receive remote technical support, or lend it to another user. It's therefore a very useful mechanism, which is completely free.
To activate it, the user whose computer is going to be controlled must enter the session id that the user whose computer is the controller provides to him through the Tandem Center. From this point onwards, and until the end of the session, the user whose computer is the controller will be able to operate the controlled computer and get audio output from the JAWS.
It's a small program that plays audiobooks in DAISY format and that is completely free. It's installed automatically when installing Jaws on the computer.
It's a very useful add-on that allows the user to play DAISY audiobooks that they have on their computer or on some digital media, without the need of acquiring complementary software or purchasing any device that reproduces them.
Jaws is one of the most powerful and customizable screen readers on the market. This degree of customization and configuration can be a greate advantage compared to other screen readers on the market, but it can be a negative point for basic users and who do not have great computer skills.
On the other hand, complementary tools such as Convenient OCR or Jaws Tandem improve the performance of this tool, giving the user more control over their own system or another user, and without having to pay an extra cost.
The cost of this tool makes it not available to many users. For this reason it's necessary to evaluate the benefits that Jaws provides to the user and if there is another product on the market that satisfies user's specific needs at a lower cost.
- Built-in OCR.
- A lot of configuration and customization options.
- A greate number of commands, from basic to advanced.
- Jaws Tandem allows control a computer or be controlled remotely to technical support.
- It allows the description of the content of images, although only in the English interface.
- When the mouse pointer moves over text Jaws verbalizes it, except with the Firefox Quantum interface.
- Jaws is one of the most powerful and best readers on the market, although its cost can't afford by all users.