Date   

moderated Unable to move around cells in excel with jaws 2020

paul lemm
 

Hi Everyone,

 

Asking on behalf of a friend, He has just brought a new PC (windows 10 home edition), he is using Jaws 2020 and office 360. When he tries to move around the spreadsheet in excel nothing is spoken, no cell values and no way of knowing whether he is actually moving around the cells in the spreadsheet. Menu navigation in Excel is working properly, jaws just doesn’t speak anything whilst  trying to move around the spreadsheet cells with the arrow keys. We’ve tried turning off Jaws and using narrator instead, using narrator we can move around the spreadsheet cells fine using the arrow keys. Does anyone on the list have any suggestions as to what the issue might be? Any solutions/suggestions would be much appreciated

 

Thanks in advance

 

Paul

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Jason White
 

When it is released, Windows Terminal may address this issue. Meanwhile, sending comments to Vispero or Microsoft would be a good idea for those who are interested.

 

I don’t know what is happening with the accessibility of Windows terminal. It’s the successor to the old console used for PowerShell and Windows Subsystem for Linux.

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of Vaughan Dodd
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2020 3:13 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

And although I don’t use Power shell, I understand your logic and think it would be great for productivity of Braille users across any number of applications if cursor routing was made more stable.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of JM Casey
Sent: Saturday, 4 January 2020 8:28 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

As for braille support – cursor routing still doesn’t work properly in Windows powershell, and that would be a really nice thing to fix, particularly if you are going back through your history of commands and want to quickly change things like file paths and other parameters.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of Vaughan Dodd
Sent: January 2, 2020 10:27 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Hello David and list.

 

I found this very useful, and I would like to add a couple of extras, so that your wish list becomes part of an all user wish list.

 

Braille support needs to be improved. I have always struggled to get Braille displays of any type to work well in functions such as word wrap, braille input and auto-advance. There have been rumours for sometime that the old Freedom Scientific would begin including the Human Interface Device open standard, after being reluctant to dos for many years. Time it came good on this.

 

Documentatin needs to have a complete overhaul. Whilst I like the help mode interface, I would also prefer to have a file which is the comprehensive manual, which cojld be sent to an embosser or electronic Braille display. I  have made a similar comment regarding documentation for the Focus Braille displays.

 

Your references to Window-Eyes reminded me of just what a good screen reader it was at its peak. Unless there are reasons preventing this, Window-Eyes should be made freeware and open source as although no longer on my computers, I still prefer it to jfw.

 

 

Appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Friday, 3 January 2020 10:35 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Vaughan Dodd
 

And although I don’t use Power shell, I understand your logic and think it would be great for productivity of Braille users across any number of applications if cursor routing was made more stable.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of JM Casey
Sent: Saturday, 4 January 2020 8:28 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

As for braille support – cursor routing still doesn’t work properly in Windows powershell, and that would be a really nice thing to fix, particularly if you are going back through your history of commands and want to quickly change things like file paths and other parameters.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of Vaughan Dodd
Sent: January 2, 2020 10:27 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Hello David and list.

 

I found this very useful, and I would like to add a couple of extras, so that your wish list becomes part of an all user wish list.

 

Braille support needs to be improved. I have always struggled to get Braille displays of any type to work well in functions such as word wrap, braille input and auto-advance. There have been rumours for sometime that the old Freedom Scientific would begin including the Human Interface Device open standard, after being reluctant to dos for many years. Time it came good on this.

 

Documentatin needs to have a complete overhaul. Whilst I like the help mode interface, I would also prefer to have a file which is the comprehensive manual, which cojld be sent to an embosser or electronic Braille display. I  have made a similar comment regarding documentation for the Focus Braille displays.

 

Your references to Window-Eyes reminded me of just what a good screen reader it was at its peak. Unless there are reasons preventing this, Window-Eyes should be made freeware and open source as although no longer on my computers, I still prefer it to jfw.

 

 

Appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Friday, 3 January 2020 10:35 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Kendra Schaber <kschaber@...>
 

Hi all! I'd love to be on the between list! I'm a college studentwho is persuing writing and would love to give them suggestions to improve things like the spell checker.  

As the result of attending school, I discovered that writing is one of my gifts. On the other hand, I have eighth grade spelling. Because of my eighth grade spelling, I’m currently working on improving my spelling where it is possible. Unfortunently, math is my biggest weakness. Because of my weakness of math, I’m going for an English major with an Environmental Science minor instead of an earth sciences major.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email!
Blessed be!
Kendra Schaber
Honor Roll Student, Fall Term 2019
Vice-President of the Oregon Association of Blind Students(ORABS)
Oregon Association of Blind Students(ORABS)
National Federation of the Blind of Oregon(NFB-O)
(503) 599-9991
Redwing731@...
Kschaber@...
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I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, oppertunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.
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“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, Author Unknown.
 


From: main@jfw.groups.io on behalf of Sieghard Weitzel <sieghard@...>
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2020 11:11
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020
 

Hi David,

 

I like a lot of what you said as well. I have been an exclusive Jaws user since the DOS days of 1989 and still have my original serial number which is a 4-digit number well below 1100.

I tried to play around with NVDA a few times, but I can just not get used to how things are done there and while at times I have addressed Jaws using not very nice language, overall it’s been a fantastic journey and I wouldn’t be in my 20th year of running my retail store without it.

I am on the Jaws private beta team and wanted to ask for your permission to post your email to that group. There are extremely capable people on this list as well as a number of Vispero employees who monitor the discussions and chime in when necessary with support or clarifications about new features. I know you said there are Vispero people on some of the other lists where you posted this, but I thought it won’t hurt to post it to the public beta list.

 

 

Best regards,

Sieghard

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 1:35 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Cristóbal
 

Yup. NVDA’s pretty ok, but the one thing that I just can’t get over is with NVDA, there’s no way to navigate via character, word, line or paragraph off of the main alphanumeric keyboard. One of those things that you don’t really think about, but find yourself using all the time and realize how much of an annoyance it can be having to move your hands back and forth between the keyboard and arrow keys be it the numpad or four arrows next to the right control key all day.

I mean, there are other reasons why I prefer Jaws over NVDA, but this really for me is the main one.

 

Cristóbal

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of Sieghard Weitzel
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2020 11:11 AM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Hi David,

 

I like a lot of what you said as well. I have been an exclusive Jaws user since the DOS days of 1989 and still have my original serial number which is a 4-digit number well below 1100.

I tried to play around with NVDA a few times, but I can just not get used to how things are done there and while at times I have addressed Jaws using not very nice language, overall it’s been a fantastic journey and I wouldn’t be in my 20th year of running my retail store without it.

I am on the Jaws private beta team and wanted to ask for your permission to post your email to that group. There are extremely capable people on this list as well as a number of Vispero employees who monitor the discussions and chime in when necessary with support or clarifications about new features. I know you said there are Vispero people on some of the other lists where you posted this, but I thought it won’t hurt to post it to the public beta list.

 

 

Best regards,

Sieghard

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 1:35 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Lino Morales
 

I think you all David included should join the next FS Open Line next month so you can let Glenn and Eric know what you want in JFW 2020 and later. Check the blog for details for times etc.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sent from Mail for Windows 10

                                                                                                               

 

From: JM Casey
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2020 2:28 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

As for braille support – cursor routing still doesn’t work properly in Windows powershell, and that would be a really nice thing to fix, particularly if you are going back through your history of commands and want to quickly change things like file paths and other parameters.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of Vaughan Dodd
Sent: January 2, 2020 10:27 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Hello David and list.

 

I found this very useful, and I would like to add a couple of extras, so that your wish list becomes part of an all user wish list.

 

Braille support needs to be improved. I have always struggled to get Braille displays of any type to work well in functions such as word wrap, braille input and auto-advance. There have been rumours for sometime that the old Freedom Scientific would begin including the Human Interface Device open standard, after being reluctant to dos for many years. Time it came good on this.

 

Documentatin needs to have a complete overhaul. Whilst I like the help mode interface, I would also prefer to have a file which is the comprehensive manual, which cojld be sent to an embosser or electronic Braille display. I  have made a similar comment regarding documentation for the Focus Braille displays.

 

Your references to Window-Eyes reminded me of just what a good screen reader it was at its peak. Unless there are reasons preventing this, Window-Eyes should be made freeware and open source as although no longer on my computers, I still prefer it to jfw.

 

 

Appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Friday, 3 January 2020 10:35 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

JM Casey
 

As for braille support – cursor routing still doesn’t work properly in Windows powershell, and that would be a really nice thing to fix, particularly if you are going back through your history of commands and want to quickly change things like file paths and other parameters.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of Vaughan Dodd
Sent: January 2, 2020 10:27 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Hello David and list.

 

I found this very useful, and I would like to add a couple of extras, so that your wish list becomes part of an all user wish list.

 

Braille support needs to be improved. I have always struggled to get Braille displays of any type to work well in functions such as word wrap, braille input and auto-advance. There have been rumours for sometime that the old Freedom Scientific would begin including the Human Interface Device open standard, after being reluctant to dos for many years. Time it came good on this.

 

Documentatin needs to have a complete overhaul. Whilst I like the help mode interface, I would also prefer to have a file which is the comprehensive manual, which cojld be sent to an embosser or electronic Braille display. I  have made a similar comment regarding documentation for the Focus Braille displays.

 

Your references to Window-Eyes reminded me of just what a good screen reader it was at its peak. Unless there are reasons preventing this, Window-Eyes should be made freeware and open source as although no longer on my computers, I still prefer it to jfw.

 

 

Appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Friday, 3 January 2020 10:35 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Robin Frost
 

Hi,
Sieghard beat me to it in a manner of speaking.  I’m not a beta tester but I was gonna suggest sending this to Vispero staff to whom it might be relevant. So yay for like minds.
Take good care.
Robin
 
 

From: Sieghard Weitzel
Sent: Friday, January 3, 2020 2:11 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020
 

Hi David,

 

I like a lot of what you said as well. I have been an exclusive Jaws user since the DOS days of 1989 and still have my original serial number which is a 4-digit number well below 1100.

I tried to play around with NVDA a few times, but I can just not get used to how things are done there and while at times I have addressed Jaws using not very nice language, overall it’s been a fantastic journey and I wouldn’t be in my 20th year of running my retail store without it.

I am on the Jaws private beta team and wanted to ask for your permission to post your email to that group. There are extremely capable people on this list as well as a number of Vispero employees who monitor the discussions and chime in when necessary with support or clarifications about new features. I know you said there are Vispero people on some of the other lists where you posted this, but I thought it won’t hurt to post it to the public beta list.

 

 

Best regards,

Sieghard

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 1:35 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Hi David,

 

I like a lot of what you said as well. I have been an exclusive Jaws user since the DOS days of 1989 and still have my original serial number which is a 4-digit number well below 1100.

I tried to play around with NVDA a few times, but I can just not get used to how things are done there and while at times I have addressed Jaws using not very nice language, overall it’s been a fantastic journey and I wouldn’t be in my 20th year of running my retail store without it.

I am on the Jaws private beta team and wanted to ask for your permission to post your email to that group. There are extremely capable people on this list as well as a number of Vispero employees who monitor the discussions and chime in when necessary with support or clarifications about new features. I know you said there are Vispero people on some of the other lists where you posted this, but I thought it won’t hurt to post it to the public beta list.

 

 

Best regards,

Sieghard

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 1:35 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Goldfield
 

Hi, Vaughan.

Thanks for your feedback. While I know Braille very well I'm not a Braille display user or at least I haven't used one in many years and so I don't feel qualified to personally suggest features or modifications which have to do with Braille support.

A couple of years ago I wrote a tribute to Window-Eyes on my blog. At the end of my post I requested that Window-Eyes be released to the community as an open source product. I didn't expect this would happen and, so far, it has not.


David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/2/2020 10:26 PM, Vaughan Dodd wrote:

Hello David and list.

 

I found this very useful, and I would like to add a couple of extras, so that your wish list becomes part of an all user wish list.

 

Braille support needs to be improved. I have always struggled to get Braille displays of any type to work well in functions such as word wrap, braille input and auto-advance. There have been rumours for sometime that the old Freedom Scientific would begin including the Human Interface Device open standard, after being reluctant to dos for many years. Time it came good on this.

 

Documentatin needs to have a complete overhaul. Whilst I like the help mode interface, I would also prefer to have a file which is the comprehensive manual, which cojld be sent to an embosser or electronic Braille display. I  have made a similar comment regarding documentation for the Focus Braille displays.

 

Your references to Window-Eyes reminded me of just what a good screen reader it was at its peak. Unless there are reasons preventing this, Window-Eyes should be made freeware and open source as although no longer on my computers, I still prefer it to jfw.

 

 

Appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Friday, 3 January 2020 10:35 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Goldfield
 

Norma,

Thanks so much for such a kind response.

Your comments about hearing the screen reader version number on startup and on shutdown reminded me of yet another feature which was available in Window-Eyes. The user had the option of having a generic message indicating that Window-Eyes had started or you could have it speak the version number on startup. I do think this would be convenient considering that, as you said, many people are running more than one version of JAWS. I'll add that to my list.

Thank you again.


David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/3/2020 9:57 AM, Norma A. Boge wrote:

Hello David G.,

 

Your post is fantastic and was a delight to read. I’d like to pose a couple questions/suggestions:

 

As one who has several versions of Jaws, I’d like to hear what version is being loaded, and, if one has enabled the shut down dialogue, have Jaws speak what version is being shut down. Just a thought.

 

I have often wondered why Jaws does not include the other Google apps in the help documentation. I would find this very useful, especially since now there is Google Sites for web development. And working with Gmail on the web was a nightmare until I was able to glean some tips from various lists.

 

Thanks for the mention of beginner and expert modes. I’ve long thought there should be a Jaws Light. Perhaps NVDA fits this bill now. I, of course, wanted Jaws Light at a lower price point. But, again, NVDA is a great alternative.

 

Totally agree with your comments about thunderbird. I am frustrated with the lack of consistency in hearing the state of a message. Vispero tech support told me it was a Thunderbird issue, so not sure where to go with that. I probably should contact Mozilla.

 

You’ve gained yourself another blog follower. Great job!

 

Best,

Norma

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 3:35 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Norma A. Boge
 

Hello David G.,

 

Your post is fantastic and was a delight to read. I’d like to pose a couple questions/suggestions:

 

As one who has several versions of Jaws, I’d like to hear what version is being loaded, and, if one has enabled the shut down dialogue, have Jaws speak what version is being shut down. Just a thought.

 

I have often wondered why Jaws does not include the other Google apps in the help documentation. I would find this very useful, especially since now there is Google Sites for web development. And working with Gmail on the web was a nightmare until I was able to glean some tips from various lists.

 

Thanks for the mention of beginner and expert modes. I’ve long thought there should be a Jaws Light. Perhaps NVDA fits this bill now. I, of course, wanted Jaws Light at a lower price point. But, again, NVDA is a great alternative.

 

Totally agree with your comments about thunderbird. I am frustrated with the lack of consistency in hearing the state of a message. Vispero tech support told me it was a Thunderbird issue, so not sure where to go with that. I probably should contact Mozilla.

 

You’ve gained yourself another blog follower. Great job!

 

Best,

Norma

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 3:35 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Vaughan Dodd
 

Hello David and list.

 

I found this very useful, and I would like to add a couple of extras, so that your wish list becomes part of an all user wish list.

 

Braille support needs to be improved. I have always struggled to get Braille displays of any type to work well in functions such as word wrap, braille input and auto-advance. There have been rumours for sometime that the old Freedom Scientific would begin including the Human Interface Device open standard, after being reluctant to dos for many years. Time it came good on this.

 

Documentatin needs to have a complete overhaul. Whilst I like the help mode interface, I would also prefer to have a file which is the comprehensive manual, which cojld be sent to an embosser or electronic Braille display. I  have made a similar comment regarding documentation for the Focus Braille displays.

 

Your references to Window-Eyes reminded me of just what a good screen reader it was at its peak. Unless there are reasons preventing this, Window-Eyes should be made freeware and open source as although no longer on my computers, I still prefer it to jfw.

 

 

Appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

 

Vaughan.

 

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Friday, 3 January 2020 10:35 am
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Goldfield
 

Thanks for your comments, Adrian.

Regarding progress tones I think that it should be a four-way toggle with options for speech, sounds, speech and sounds along with no feedback. JAWS could default to having progress reports being provided as speech only, keeping it to the long-standing default setting.

As for the potential for hotkey conflicts I do see what you mean. At one point I had versions for JAWS 16, 17, 18, 2018 and 2019 on my desktop. I had different hotkeys assigned to each of them, with ctrl+alt+J for whatever the current version was at that time. When a new version number was released, such as JAWS 2020, I did need to do a bit of juggling to keep things straight and users running multiple versions would need to keep track of which keys were being used for specific versions and might have to do a bit of shuffling, when required.


David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/2/2020 7:08 PM, Adrian Spratt wrote:

David,

 

As always, a thoughtful post, and this one so comprehensive. Two thoughts:

 

First, like many JAWS users, I tend to have more than one version on my system. Each has its own hotkey. I wonder if conflicts could arise if users created the hotkey during the startup wizard.

 

Second, although JAWS doesn’t issue tones during software downloads, you can get spoken percentage messages by pressing JAWS key+tab. Personally, I’d prefer not to have tones because I like to work on other things while software is downloading. That said, I note that you recommend that the user have the option of silencing the tones. I also understand that tones could be desirable in addition to spoken progress reports. So I mention the JAWS key-tab keystroke in case anyone is unfamiliar with it.

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 6:00 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Regarding this  post I was horrified to find an error that I'm amazed was missed during proofreading. I have since fixed it on my blog and added one more feature request where a press of the shift key would pause and then resume the reading of text after pressing the "say all" command. You can find it here.

 

David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org

On 1/2/2020 5:55 PM, David Goldfield wrote:

Many thanks. I meant the post to be constructive and positive as I am not only a JAWS user but a bit of a JAWS enthusiast as well. Both JAWS as well as Brian Hartgen's Leasey program have increased my productivity and I think that feedback and suggestions of this type need to be conveyed positively. As for getting the attention of Vispero I have posted this to the JAWS Users group on Facebook and I have definitely seen posts from a Vispero employee on that group and so I'm sure it's been seen by that individual. I also posted this to several groups related to assistive technology on LinkedIn, as well as on my LinkedIn feed and I believe I have some LinkedIn connections who work at Vispero.

 

David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org

On 1/2/2020 5:42 PM, JM Casey wrote:

This was very thoughtfully put together and I was surprised at the constructive quality of the suggestions. You should definitely see if you can show this to someone at ..Visparo, are they calling themselves now?

 

I’ll also check out your blog. Cheers.

 

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Adrian Spratt
 

David,

 

As always, a thoughtful post, and this one so comprehensive. Two thoughts:

 

First, like many JAWS users, I tend to have more than one version on my system. Each has its own hotkey. I wonder if conflicts could arise if users created the hotkey during the startup wizard.

 

Second, although JAWS doesn’t issue tones during software downloads, you can get spoken percentage messages by pressing JAWS key+tab. Personally, I’d prefer not to have tones because I like to work on other things while software is downloading. That said, I note that you recommend that the user have the option of silencing the tones. I also understand that tones could be desirable in addition to spoken progress reports. So I mention the JAWS key-tab keystroke in case anyone is unfamiliar with it.

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2020 6:00 PM
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

Regarding this  post I was horrified to find an error that I'm amazed was missed during proofreading. I have since fixed it on my blog and added one more feature request where a press of the shift key would pause and then resume the reading of text after pressing the "say all" command. You can find it here.

 

David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org

On 1/2/2020 5:55 PM, David Goldfield wrote:

Many thanks. I meant the post to be constructive and positive as I am not only a JAWS user but a bit of a JAWS enthusiast as well. Both JAWS as well as Brian Hartgen's Leasey program have increased my productivity and I think that feedback and suggestions of this type need to be conveyed positively. As for getting the attention of Vispero I have posted this to the JAWS Users group on Facebook and I have definitely seen posts from a Vispero employee on that group and so I'm sure it's been seen by that individual. I also posted this to several groups related to assistive technology on LinkedIn, as well as on my LinkedIn feed and I believe I have some LinkedIn connections who work at Vispero.

 

David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org

On 1/2/2020 5:42 PM, JM Casey wrote:

This was very thoughtfully put together and I was surprised at the constructive quality of the suggestions. You should definitely see if you can show this to someone at ..Visparo, are they calling themselves now?

 

I’ll also check out your blog. Cheers.

 

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Goldfield
 

Regarding this  post I was horrified to find an error that I'm amazed was missed during proofreading. I have since fixed it on my blog and added one more feature request where a press of the shift key would pause and then resume the reading of text after pressing the "say all" command. You can find it here.


David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/2/2020 5:55 PM, David Goldfield wrote:

Many thanks. I meant the post to be constructive and positive as I am not only a JAWS user but a bit of a JAWS enthusiast as well. Both JAWS as well as Brian Hartgen's Leasey program have increased my productivity and I think that feedback and suggestions of this type need to be conveyed positively. As for getting the attention of Vispero I have posted this to the JAWS Users group on Facebook and I have definitely seen posts from a Vispero employee on that group and so I'm sure it's been seen by that individual. I also posted this to several groups related to assistive technology on LinkedIn, as well as on my LinkedIn feed and I believe I have some LinkedIn connections who work at Vispero.


David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/2/2020 5:42 PM, JM Casey wrote:

This was very thoughtfully put together and I was surprised at the constructive quality of the suggestions. You should definitely see if you can show this to someone at ..Visparo, are they calling themselves now?

 

I’ll also check out your blog. Cheers.

 

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Goldfield
 

Many thanks. I meant the post to be constructive and positive as I am not only a JAWS user but a bit of a JAWS enthusiast as well. Both JAWS as well as Brian Hartgen's Leasey program have increased my productivity and I think that feedback and suggestions of this type need to be conveyed positively. As for getting the attention of Vispero I have posted this to the JAWS Users group on Facebook and I have definitely seen posts from a Vispero employee on that group and so I'm sure it's been seen by that individual. I also posted this to several groups related to assistive technology on LinkedIn, as well as on my LinkedIn feed and I believe I have some LinkedIn connections who work at Vispero.


David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/2/2020 5:42 PM, JM Casey wrote:

This was very thoughtfully put together and I was surprised at the constructive quality of the suggestions. You should definitely see if you can show this to someone at ..Visparo, are they calling themselves now?

 

I’ll also check out your blog. Cheers.

 

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

JM Casey
 

This was very thoughtfully put together and I was surprised at the constructive quality of the suggestions. You should definitely see if you can show this to someone at ..Visparo, are they calling themselves now?

 

I’ll also check out your blog. Cheers.

 

 


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Goldfield
 

David,

Thanks so much for your kind feedback. I definitely agree: re: safe mode. Many thanks.

David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

WWW.DavidGoldfield.org
On 1/2/2020 5:09 PM, David Griffith wrote:

Dear David  I think This  is brilliant.

I have read through and I can’t say that there is anything that you have included here that I would disagree with.

I hope that Jaws developers are reading this closely.

Essentially you have set out a development program for them and it could be extremely valuable action plan for the next year or so.

I think that the option to run Jaws in Safe Mode is a must – even if it is a stripped down version of jaws without its virtual screen driver enhancements. Something emulating the Narrator capability would be great.

 

David Griffith

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: 02 January 2020 21:35
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org


moderated Re: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

David Griffith
 

Dear David  I think This  is brilliant.

I have read through and I can’t say that there is anything that you have included here that I would disagree with.

I hope that Jaws developers are reading this closely.

Essentially you have set out a development program for them and it could be extremely valuable action plan for the next year or so.

I think that the option to run Jaws in Safe Mode is a must – even if it is a stripped down version of jaws without its virtual screen driver enhancements. Something emulating the Narrator capability would be great.

 

David Griffith

 

 

From: main@jfw.groups.io <main@jfw.groups.io> On Behalf Of David Goldfield
Sent: 02 January 2020 21:35
To: main@jfw.groups.io
Subject: From My Blog: My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

 

My Feature Wish List for JAWS 2020

Introduction

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I chose to add JAWS to my accessibility toolbox for my screen reading needs. I still use NVDA on a regular basis but I must say that I use JAWS as my primary screen reader. I will always continue to endorse NVDA as it is a very good screen reader and fills a very important need, providing a free screen reader supporting around 50 languages, ensuring that visually impaired people around the world have free access to a Windows computer. However, JAWS offers some tools and features which are not found in NVDA, some of which I mentioned in the previously referenced blog post. And if those features weren’t enough I have even more capabilities with the amazing third party Leasey software, available at a very reasonable price from Hartgen Consultancy.

With all of the capabilities being offered by JAWS as well as from Leasey there are still some features that I’d like to see added to JAWS. The 2020 version of JAWS is a bit of a milestone for Vispero as we are heading into the 25th anniversary for the JAWS screen reader. Very few software packages can boast that they’ve been available for such a long period of time, let alone specialized software such as screen readers. JAWS has consistently been available for nearly 25 years, constantly fixing bugs as well as adding new features and refining existing ones. I’d like to see Vispero add some special features to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a fabulous and extremely capable and powerful screen reader.

I don’t necessarily feel that a ton of new features should be introduced all at once. In the past the company would introduce a new major update in September, bumping up the version number and adding lots of new features, with maintenance updates being released every few months after that to fix bugs and refine the newly added features. Starting with JAWS 2019 I’m noticing a slight shift in the way features are being introduced. Rather than releasing one major update with a boatload of new features the company seems to be adding features throughout the release cycle for that particular version, as they did when they added Picture Smart, the image recognition feature, around March of 2019. I highly approve of this approach and it’s one that I wish more companies would consider adopting. Releasing one massive update with a ton of new features potentially means more bugs that users will have to contend with, making more work for the development team. Introducing a few new features at a time means the opposite: less work for Vispero’s developers and a smoother experience for those of us who use the software and who depend on it to behave reliably. Microsoft does this with Office 365 but I wish they’d adopt this approach with Windows 10 and I sure wish Apple would do this with iOS.

Now that I have that preamble out of the way here is my personal wish list of features that I’d like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond.

 

A More Flexible Way to Copy Web Content to the Clipboard.

Fortunately, Leasey does address this issue rather nicely, for which I’m very grateful. However, for the benefit of those users who may not even know that Leasey exists let me explain the current situation. In addition to using standard selection commands to select and copy content from a Web page into the clipboard JAWS has another method for selecting text. However, the steps to do this must be followed just so in order for this feature to work. Here is how you must do it.

1.       Move the virtual cursor to the beginning of the block of text you’d like to copy. I usually do this at the beginning of the block of text but I believe that you can start at the end of the block.

2.       Press ctrl+Windows+K. This sets a temporary place marker at the location of the virtual cursor.

3.       Move the virtual cursor to the end of the block of text to be copied.

4.       Press the layered keystroke insert+space.

5.       Press the letter M (for mark.)

6.       Press ctrl+C to copy the block of text to the clipboard.

Admittedly, this set of steps is easier than holding down the shift key and using navigation commands. However, I’d like to see a little more flexibility. As an example, why not allow the user to place a mark at the beginning and at the end of the block of text using the same hotkey. Even better, could there be a way to place a mark at one of the block and then, after moving to the other end of the block, have a hotkey which copies the text from the mark to the current cursor location into the clipboard?

 

Allow JAWS to Start in Safe Mode

There’s not much more that I could say beyond the above heading. I believe that Narrator can do this and, if memory serves, Window-Eyes also offered this capability. There are times when we may need to start our computers in safe mode to troubleshoot a problem and currently JAWS doesn’t function when in this mode.

 

Cursor Keys Feature From Window-Eyes

Users of the Window-Eyes screen reader, which is no longer available, will likely remember the cursor keys feature. For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with this feature I will explain how it works.

The Cursor Keys feature allowed you to assign functions to a cursor navigation feature without taking away the key’s original function. Here’s an example.

Suppose that I want the Home key to speak the character to the right of the cursor but I still want that key to move the cursor to the beginning of the line when I press it. This would mean that pressing the Home key moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line of text and then the screen reader would then speak the character at the cursor position. Window-Eyes allowed for this with a feature called Cursor Keys, which was also available in the Vocal-Eyes screen reader for DOS. You would first pick the cursor key you wanted to assign a function to, such as home, end, page-up, page-down, up arrow, down arrow, etc. You then had a list of functions which you could then assign to the cursor key you had chosen. You could actually select up to two separate functions for the cursor key but bear in mind that the cursor key would still do what it was intended to do. With JAWS, you can access the Keyboard Manager and assign a script to a cursor key but doing so will usually prevent that key from performing its original function. If you know the JAWS scripting language you could, of course, write a script and assign it to that key and you could then have that key perform any function or set of functions that you wanted it to do. The point is that Window-Eyes allowed you to do this without needing to worry about writing scripts. In my opinion, since Vispero made the decision to stop developing Window-Eyes they should consider adding features which were unique to that screen reader to JAWS so that JAWS users can continue to enjoy and benefit from those features.

 

Add Acapela Voices

It’s true that JAWS does ship with a fairly wide array of voices. In addition to Eloquence, which I still use and often prefer, we now have access to voices from Nuance, as well as being able to use Microsoft’s own set of voices. However, I’m quite a fan of Acapela’s voices and I’d like to see them included with JAWS, even as an optional download.

 

Allow Dialogs to be Navigated and Interacted With Using the Virtual Cursor

To some extent this is something that Narrator is beginning to do and I would absolutely love to see this capability added to JAWS. Currently, when a dialog appears you can navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab to move from one actionable item to the next. By actionable item I’m referring to items such as buttons, edit fields and combo boxes that you can not only access but which you can also interact with by pressing keys such as arrow keys to navigate within a combo box or the space key to press a button. This is fine but many dialog boxes contain textual information that you would otherwise miss if all you did was to navigate by pressing the tab key. You could use the JAWS cursor to navigate through a dialog box but this cursor may not always function in all dialog boxes. Also, you have to remember to press the slash key on the number pad to press a button. You could place the dialog in the virtual viewer by pressing insert+alt+W but all you can do in this mode is to read it. If you want to interact with the dialog you would have to press escape first to exit this mode. What I’m requesting is the equivalent of Narrator’s scan mode. While in a dialog pressing insert+Z would convert the current screen into the equivalent of a dynamic Web page. This would still allow you to navigate the dialog by pressing tab or shift+tab as you always have done in the past. However, you could also use standard cursor keys to navigate through the dialog just as you currently use them to navigate Web pages. Informational text would be instantly readable. Combo boxes, edit fields and list boxes would allow you to press enter while you’re focused on them which would then enter forms mode, allowing you to interact with them. Pressing enter or space on a button would press or activate that button. This capability would allow dialog boxes to be navigated with the same level of efficiency that we already have with Web page navigation.

 

Startup and Closing Sounds for JAWS

This is certainly not a major feature request and it might have very little impact on most users. However, it would be nice to have the ability to have a sound file played when JAWS first starts or when it closes, either during a Windows shutdown or when a user chooses to close it.

 

Allow Users to Assign a JAWS Hotkey During the Startup Wizard

During the startup wizard JAWS should give the user the option of assigning a hotkey to start JAWS in the event that it’s been shut down. Many users know how to do this by accessing the JAWS properties on the desktop. Some users may not know how to do this and JAWS should make it easier for both groups of users. Window-Eyes used ctrl+alt+W as its shortcut key and NVDA uses ctrl+alt+N. Can JAWS please give the user the option to use ctrl+alt+J or, better yet, allow them to assign their own?

 

Progress Indicator Tones

This is something which I’m honestly surprised that JAWS hasn’t implemented years ago, considering that this feature existed in Window-Eyes and has been a part of NVDA, perhaps even before that screen reader’s first public non-beta release in 2009. I’m referring to the percentages you often hear when performing an action such as installing a piece of software or when copying a large file or group of files from one folder to the next. Leasey from Hartgen Consultancy implemented this feature in 2019 and I was one of the users who requested it. Still, this is something which I think Vispero should consider adding to JAWS as a standard feature which could optionally be either turned on or off by the user.

 

Allow the User to Assign Numbers and Punctuation Keys When Using the Navigation Quick Key Manager

 

I love the navigation quick key manager. As an example of how I use it I’ve chosen to assign the “any link” hotkey to the letter K as I got very used to being able to navigate links with K and shift+K with NVDA. For those who wonder what I did with the Placemarkers hotkey I assigned that to M and unassigned the ability to navigate by frames, as this is a feature that I don’t really need. I’d like to see the capability of assigning keys to these functions other than letters, such as numbers, punctuation keys or keys which are specific to the number pad.

 

Script Writing Wizard

The JAWS scripting language is perhaps one of the most powerful features found within JAWS. By writing scripts you can add features and capabilities to JAWS that many people wouldn’t even think that a screen reader could do. As proof of this just visit Hartgen Consultancy to see what Brian Hartgen has been able to accomplish with JAWS scripting. However, let’s be honest. The scripting language is a programming language and it needs to be learned in order for it to be mastered. Why not make this a bit easier by implementing a script writing wizard for new or inexperienced users. It could prompt them with a series of questions with choices for things like “what would you like this script to do”, with a list of functions from which to choose. It could perhaps work a bit like the Cursor Keys dialog did in Window-Eyes. Perhaps an interface like this wouldn’t be able to offer every type of function but it would at least allow most users to write some basic scripts.

 

JAWS Script Repository

Over the years many people have written scripts for JAWS. While some are available for purchase many of them, perhaps most of them, are available at no cost. The problem is that you either have to know where to obtain them or you have to perform some Google searches and hope that you’ll be able to locate them. This never made sense to me. It would be like buying a Kindle and then finding out that the only way to download books for it is to go to sites such as Joe’s Kindle Books or some other third-party site. NV Access offers its official addon repository for NVDA users and Window-Eyes offered Script Central, which behaved much like an app store, allowing users to browse, download and install scripts right from the screen reader itself. I never understood why Vispero didn’t host its own script repository for its users. This would greatly extend the capabilities of JAWS for many users.

 

USE AI to Guess and Reclass Controls

JAWS is now starting to use artificial intelligence to recognize photos with its recently added Picture Smart feature. However, what would be both very helpful as well as innovative would be to have the option of having AI attempting to identify controls and then reclassing them. As an example, if you had a control which looked and behaved like a button but which wasn’t an actual button it would be fantastic if JAWS could examine the control and say, “hmmmm, that looks like it could be a button” and then JAWS could then allow the user to interact with that control as if it was a button. This would have to be an option which the user would need to enable, as JAWS could certainly make some incorrect guesses. 

 

Improved Help

The documentation that comes with JAWS has always been both accurate as well as comprehensive. The problem that I have with it is, to be frank, that it’s dry and sometimes uses overly technical language which could go over the heads of some users, particularly those who may be new to computers.

As an example, if you are on the Windows desktop and you press insert+F1 for context sensitive help or what JAWS refers to as screen sensitive help, you will receive this message, which begins with the following text.

“The desktop list view contains application icons and desktop items.”

Press the first letter of the desired item to move to it.

To open or start it, Press ENTER.”

 

This is, of course, true. However, it’s a bit too technical for some users. What’s a list view? What’s an application icon? Why can’t it say something like the following.

 

““You are on the desktop.

The desktop contains a list of items such as programs, folders or even documents.

Press up, down, left or right arrow to move to each of these items.

You can also press the first letter of an item to immediately move to that item.

When you find an item that you want to open, press enter.”

 

Writing documentation is an art more so than a science. Admittedly, it’s not easy to write documentation which appeals or speaks to all users. I do think, however, that the needs of the new or inexperienced user should be considered when preparing the documentation.

 

Beginner and Expert Mode

One of the features which Window-Eyes offered was the ability to have two separate modes. When Window-Eyes was first installed it would default to a beginner mode. In this mode, not all menu options were available. However, the screen reader did contain just enough features to allow the new user to control basic options, such as adjusting speech settings. Once you switched to the advanced mode you would find that all of the menu options were available to access. I used to provide training to blind and visually impaired adults in the use of assistive technology and many of them wouldn’t initially need some of the more advanced features which JAWS has to offer. This might also be a good reason to alter some of the screen sensitive help, perhaps simplifying the language when JAWS is in its novice mode.

 

Allow the User to Customize Screen Sensitive Help

One feature which would solve the problem of confusing or overly technical language in the screen sensitive help would be a way to allow the user to customize or alter these messages. This is something which Window-Eyes allowed the user to do. It would be fabulous if assistive technology instructors could do this as we could then modify these messages and adjust them for the needs of the individual users they are working with. They could, for example, add specific instructions or other hints that might be applicable to that user’s particular computer. Perhaps this could be done with another hotkey which might be missed or too complex for a user to accidentally press, such as insert+shift+F1.

 

Remove “Task Switching” Message When Pressing Alt+Tab

Many times JAWS says “task switching” when the alt+tab key has been pressed. Sometimes, it even says this twice. Depending on the voice being used and on the speed of that voice this message can be both annoying as well as time-consuming and it simply doesn’t need to be spoken at all. Can we please just have that message eliminated?

 

 

Improved Support for LibreOffice

I think we can all agree that the support JAWS offers for Microsoft Office, at least when it comes to Word, Excel and Outlook, is superb. If you use a screen reader and you need to compose and edit documents or spreadsheets Office is definitely the package to get, particularly if you’re a JAWS user. However, Office isn’t free of cost. Sure, you can subscribe to Office 365 on an annual or even on a monthly basis but the fact is that some people simply can’t afford the extra expense. Fortunately, there are some free alternatives, one of which is LibreOffice, available from the Document Foundation. LibreOffice does offer basic accessibility and works reasonably well with JAWS. However, it doesn’t offer the extra level of accessibility that we’ve come to expect with Office products, such as Word and Excel. As an example, LibreOffice Writer should include the same configuration options found within the Quick Settings dialog as we have for Microsoft Word. Users who either can’t afford Office or who just want an alternative to Office deserve the same level of access.

 

Improved Support for Popular Antimalware Programs

This is a topic I’ve written about previously. Years ago I would have never recommended Microsoft’s Windows Defender as its ability to defend against malware was pretty lackluster. However, recent reviews suggest that this is changing for the better and Windows Defender can now be considered a reasonably good antimalware solution. While I personally believe that Defender has a somewhat unintuitive user interface the fact is that it is very accessible with screen readers and it’s safer and more reliable now than it was in the past. However, JAWS still needs better access to today’s more popular and commonly used security solutions. A few years ago I wrote a review of Kaspersky Antivirus and how it works with the NVDA screen reader. With JAWS I find that access to Kaspersky is a bit hit and miss. At times JAWS actually did a fairly good job reading most of the labeled buttons in the main Kaspersky window, even better than what I experienced with NVDA. I noticed this improved performance shortly after installing Kaspersky but the performance in this window totally degraded after a while. Perhaps this was due to a Kaspersky program update which introduced accessibility regressions. Navigating with the touch cursor helps but access to this and other critical packages needs to be top-notch. Freedom Scientific should invest the same amount of resources in making the top antimalware programs accessible as much as it does in making other programs accessible, such as Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. I’ll agree that developers of these programs should take responsibility and include accessibility in all of their software. However, it may take some serious advocacy on the part of screen reader developers to make this happen. Screen reader developers should also assist, where possible, in writing scripts to make these packages as accessible as they do with Microsoft Office. Having robust security on our Windows machines is essential. However, these programs are useless if they generate warning messages or if they require our input and we’re unable to reliably access these messages and interact with their controls

 

Improved Support for Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird has been my preferred email program of choice for over ten years. On my computer its performance is faster than Microsoft Outlook and its commands are similar to Outlook. JAWS does offer some support for Thunderbird but I would suggest that this support needs to be improved. Here are some examples.

·         It is currently either impossible or, at least, exceedingly difficult, to reorder the columns in a mailbox. Some of this is Mozilla’s fault for not providing a keyboard-friendly way to do this. Currently, I have to use the Mozilla Apps Enhancements addon for NVDA in order to perform this task. This means that I have to unload JAWS and then load NVDA inn order to easily reorder columns in the message list from the keyboard.

·         Allow a hotkey to move to or open a list of attachments

·         Remove the title of the message from the top line of the message, including the occasional “X Unicode” symbol. The first line of an email message should be the first actual line of text that appears in the message body, just as what we have with Microsoft Outlook.

·         When deleting messages from a message list, such as the inbox, please remove the occasional “not selected, not selected” prompts that JAWS occasionally says.

In short, I’d like to see the same level of accessibility in Mozilla Thunderbird that we already enjoy with Microsoft Outlook.

 

Conclusion

That wraps up my wish list for features that I’d personally like to see added to JAWS 2020 and beyond. As JAWS is a fabulous screen reader now celebrating its 25th anniversary users should be treated to a landmark, game changing and innovative release for the JAWS 2020 cycle. I’d love to read your comments as to features that you’d like to see added to JAWS.

 

 

-- 
David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
 
WWW.DavidGoldfield.org