moderated Using Cisco Packet Tracer with JAWS

Callum Stoneman

Hi all,
I have recently started a new job on an IT Networks team and am being encouraged by my employer to take a Cisco CCNA qualification as it will help massively with my future career in this field. I am interested in doing this, but the problem is that much of the Cisco content relies heavily on their Packet Tracer network simulation software.
When I first started at university around three years ago, our course also used a lot of the CCNA content and we tried back then using Packet Tracer with JAWS, but with no success. As soon as the program is launched, JAWS says nothing. When pressing tab or the arrow keys, nothing at all is spoken, not even "blank". Me and my tutors contacted Cisco in the hope that they could help or recommend an alternative, but they were less than helpful so we were left to find alternatives for ourselves, which we did. I studied the CCNA content and got my degree, but I'm not CCNA qualified on paper, plus the content changed at the start of this year, so I am now studying it again for work.
Three years later, things are no better with the latest version of Packet Tracer and JAWS 2020, and the alternative method I used at university (using physical devices instead of virtual ones) is not possible at work especially in the current situation. I have contacted Cisco again and this time they seem a little more helpful. They claim that they have tested Packet Tracer with JAWS 2020 and, in their words, "it works, but with some gaps" and they seem completely stuck for answers as to why it doesn't work with JAWS at all on my machine, but it does for them. They of course tried blaming the user at first, "Is your speech set to mute? Is your volume set to an audible level?" etc etc. It would be wrong for me to say that I'm a JAWS expert, but I'm certainly not a beginner. I have used JAWS for many years and am very familiar with it, but nothing I try makes any improvement with Packet Tracer.
The person who I have been in touch with from Cisco's accessibility team has now put me in touch with one of the Packet Tracer developers and I'm currently trying to arrange a call with them in the hope that we can figure this out, however I would like to know if I'm missing something with this.
Has anyone else had experience with Packet Tracer? If you have got it to work, any tips/workarounds would be hugely appreciated. Equally, if you have tried it out recently and have found it to be inaccessible, I would like to know so that I can provide as much detail as possible if/when I speak to Cisco.
Many thanks in advance for any help and comments.

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