What's New in JAWS 17 Public Beta

Thank you for participating in the JAWS 17 public beta test. This page provides all the necessary details that you need to know and at the end of the page, you will find links to download JAWS 17 Beta now. Please take a few moments to review this information and take advantage of the beta report form link to provide Freedom Scientific your feedback during the public beta.

Quick Notes About the Public Beta

Thank you for your help during the public beta period. Please note that this is beta software, and its accuracy and reliability are not guaranteed. You should not rely exclusively on the beta software for any reason.

  • This JAWS 17 public beta is available in English, Spanish, German, French, and French Canadian.
  • Please note that while the final release of JAWS 17 will be a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) upgrade, this public beta version will run for anyone with a JAWS license that provides access to JAWS 16.
  • If you do not have JAWS 16 authorization, you can still install the public beta version and run it using 40-Minute Demo mode.
  • This public beta version will expire later this year. To use JAWS without interruption, you must continue to update to later versions of the public beta and then to the final release.
  • You do not have to remove earlier versions of JAWS to install the JAWS 17 public beta. Your previous versions will continue to function when you have JAWS 17 installed, just as each new major version release of JAWS has in the past.

Technical Support During the Public Beta

While in public beta, general technical support of JAWS 17 is not available using our direct support phone lines or e-mail. However, you may use normal support lines in order to resolve any problems you experience related to installation or authorization using the Public Beta. For all other issues you may discover, we ask that you send feedback directly to Freedom Scientific using the JAWS 17 Beta Report Form Web Page. Please bookmark the report page in your Web browser so that you can easily locate it if you need technical assistance. Also, please submit one problem per report.

New Features Added in JAWS 17

The following features are new to JAWS 17. For more information and complete demonstrations, go to the FSCast web page and listen to episodes 113 and 114.

Smart Navigation, More Efficient Interaction with Complex Web Pages and Applications

Today and in the future, users will be faced with an increased need to work with complex web forms, tables, and even applications that run inside of a web browser. This will impact your day to day interactions with services on-line such as banking and shopping, in addition to many web apps found in both companies and government agencies. For instance, Internet Explorer can be used to log onto a Microsoft SharePoint server to collaborate with other co-workers and create and store documents. The new Smart Navigation feature is designed to make it more efficient when navigating web-based applications with the Virtual Cursor as the LEFT and RIGHT ARROW or CTRL+LEFT and CTRL+RIGHT ARROW commands move by control instead of character and word. This makes navigation such as moving across toolbars, tab strips, and navigation links more like navigating around a desktop application. Pressing the Say Character, Say Word, or Say Line commands twice quickly changes to the traditional navigation by character, word, line, sentence, and paragraph so you can review the text of the control. Smart Navigation resumes when you press ESC, or move to a different control by pressing UP or DOWN ARROW or TAB.

For example, if you use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys to move across a tab strip, you might hear JAWS announce something like; "Home tab selected," "Insert tab," and "Page Layout tab." If you wanted to review the items on the tab strip character by character, press the Say Character (NUM PAD 5), Say Word (INSERT+NUM PAD 5), or Say Line (INSERT+UP ARROW) commands twice quickly. You can now navigate by character or word until you press DOWN ARROW to move away from the tab strip to another control.

Smart Navigation is off by default. To turn it on, there are a couple ways.

The quickest way to enable Smart Navigation is through the Startup Wizard which automatically launches after JAWS is installed. When the wizard starts, select the Next button until you reach the Common Options page. You will be focused on a group of radio buttons where you can use the ARROW keys to choose the Smart Navigation option you want to use (Controls and Tables or Controls). Pressing TAB moves you to another group of radio buttons that allow you to select how Forms Mode activates. For the best experience with Smart Navigation, it is recommended that users set Forms Mode to Semi-Auto or Manual. This prevents JAWS from unexpectedly turning on Forms Mode while navigating with the ARROW keys. Once you have changed the options you want, continue selecting Next until you reach the Braille Settings page and then select Finish to save your changes. Smart Navigation will now be enabled for any environments that use the Virtual Cursor.

Alternatively, Smart Navigation can be configured through Settings Center or Quick Settings. For instance, you may want to use Smart Navigation in Firefox, but not in Internet Explorer.

Smart Navigation offers two modes, Controls and Tables, or Controls.

When set to Controls and Tables and you are currently not in a table, most web-based controls, including, but not limited to, buttons, links, edit fields, list boxes, tree views, and headings, are treated as single units when navigating by character or word. Performing a Say Character, Say Word, and Say Line command twice quickly while focused on a control will switch to character and word Navigation so you can use the traditional navigation by character, word, line, sentence, and paragraph to review a control, such as the text of a button or link, in greater detail. Smart Navigation by controls automatically resumes when you press ESC, or move to another control using TAB or UP or DOWN ARROW.

If focused inside of a table, the RIGHT and LEFT ARROW keys move between columns while the UP and DOWN ARROW keys move between rows. When focused in a cell and it contains any controls, such as a heading, or an edit field, pressing the Say Character, Say Word, or Say Line commands twice quickly will switch to control navigation, and performing these commands again twice quickly will switch to character and word navigation. If the cell does not contain controls, you can only switch to character and word navigation. Pressing ESC or moving focus away from the control or table cell will switch back to the prior navigation level, for example, pressing ESC while in character and word navigation will return to Smart Navigation in tables.

When set to Controls and focus is not in a table, navigation is the same as the Controls and Tables option. The only difference is that if you encounter a table, you will need to use the standard table reading commands (CTRL+ALT+ARROW keys) or the Table layer (INSERT+SPACEBAR, t) to navigate the table.

When Smart navigation is active, press ALT+DELETE or INSERT+TAB to have JAWS announce the current Smart Navigation level.

Anytime you are using Smart Navigation, either set to Controls or Controls and Tables, JAWS will work in Screen Layout. This presents pages in the virtual buffer similar to how they appear visually on the screen. Toolbar buttons or other lists of controls that are visually laid out horizontally on the screen are displayed on one line in the virtual document, allowing a single press of the DOWN ARROW to skip the entire toolbar instead of having to move from button to button to get past it.

For a great example, please try JAWS 17 on a web form such as the WebTrack sample form on the Surf's Up pages. On this page, you will be able to see the power of navigating more efficiently with the DOWN ARROW then in previous versions.

New Sound Indication for Links

As you navigate by line with Smart Navigation active, JAWS plays a sound if the current line contains one or more links which would generally be displayed on separate lines when you are not in Smart Navigation. This sound helps you identify that a link exists and gives you a chance to pause to hear about it or use TAB or the ARROW keys to move to it. To keep this sound from being too intrusive, it is not heard if a line contains a link that is preceeded by less than five characters. For instance, a bulleted or numbered list that contains a link directly after the number or bullet.

Use Settings Center to Configure Settings for a Specific Web Site

In JAWS 17, you can now apply settings changes to a specific web site domain using Settings Center. For instance, if you use Smart Navigation and you have a particular web site where you would prefer not to have this feature active, you can open Settings Center from the current site and turn it off. Smart Navigation will continue working on all other web sites.

To configure web site specific settings, do the following:

  1. Open the web site where you want settings changes to apply.
  2. Press INSERT+F2, select Settings Center, and press ENTER.
  3. Press SHIFT+TAB to move to the application list and locate Default. Press DOWN ARROW one time and you should find the name of your current site followed by (domain). For example, if you open Settings Center from the Freedom Scientific web site, you should see something like www.freedomscientific.com (Domain).
  4. While the web site name is selected, press TAB to move to the Search edit and type all or part of the setting you want to change. For example, "smart" for Smart Navigation, "Forms" for Forms Mode options, etc.
  5. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the filtered results of the Settings Center tree view and make your preferred settings changes.
  6. Press TAB to move to the OK button and activate it with the SPACEBAR. The changes are made and saved. Settings Center closes.

Now, whatever you have set for the current web site should only be applied when any pages on this site are open and have focus. For example, if you set Smart Navigation to Controls and Tables for the Freedom Scientific web site, it should be off for all other web sites which is the default, unless you are on Freedomscientific.com.

New Options Added to Startup Wizard

The Startup Wizard contains a series of pages that allow users to quickly configure some of the more commonly used JAWS options including speech settings, startup options, keyboard settings, verbosity options, and braille settings. The Startup Wizard automatically launches after a full install of JAWS, but can be accessed any time through the JAWS Help menu. In JAWS 17, we have added a few more options we expect users will want convenient access to.

  • The page which follows the Run JAWS Settings page is now called Common Options. It contains new controls to configure Smart Navigation and Forms Mode.
  • A new Braille Format Settings page has been added directly after the Verbosity Settings page and before the Braille Settings page. It contains the following new options:
    • Language: Use this combo box to specify the Braille language. For example, English, Spanish, French, German, and so on.
    • Output: Use this combo box to configure the output mode for reading Braille on your display. The first option is always Computer Braille. The other available options depend on the currently selected language. For example, when the language is set to English United States, the available output modes are U.S. English Grade 1, U.S. English Grade 2, Unified English Braille Grade 1, and Unified English Braille Grade 2. If you set the language to French, the available modes are French Grade 1 and French Grade 2.
    • Input Use this combo box to specify the input mode used when typing Braille from the Perkins-style keyboard on your display. The first option is always Computer Braille. The other available option depends on the currently selected output mode. For instance, if you have chosen to display Unified English Braille Grade 2, then you can choose to type in either Computer Braille or Unified English Braille Grade 2. This setting is not available if the selected output mode is Computer Braille, or the selected output mode does not support input.

Create domain specific scripts for Web Pages and Web Applications

JAWS has always provided the ability to script desktop applications, enabling many non-standard applications to be made accessible to JAWS users. In recent years, however, more and more applications are being developed to run inside web browsers. For example, Microsoft SharePoint and Google Docs are web applications that allow you to create, edit, and save documents, as well as collaborate with other users, directly through web pages opened in Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Since each web application can offer its own unique functionality, the JAWS scripts for the web browser are too general to be of use for specific pages. JAWS 17 extends the scripting functionality to enable you to create scripts that only load when a particular web site is being accessed, so you can customize a web page or application to your specific needs. For instance, if you created scripts for www.microsoft.com, these scripts would be loaded for any page opened on the Microsoft web site. Domain specific scripts are loaded on top of the browser scripts so that JAWS can fall back to the general scripts in situations where a domain specific script behavior is not available. This gives scripters much more control when scripting a web-based application for a client at a job site as they can create specific functionality for the application without affecting how JAWS performs on other web pages.

To aid in creating domain specific scripts, three new script functions have been added.

  • GetDocumentXML: This function obtains well-formed XML from the Dom Server for parsing using the MSXML com object.
  • PerformActionOnElementWithTagAndAttribute: This function finds an element in the DOM by tag and attribute/value pair and performs an action on it such as setFocus, makeVisible, doDefaultAction, leftClick, or rightClick.
  • PerformActionOnElementWithID: This function finds an element in the DOM by unique ID and performs an action on it such as setFocus, makeVisible, doDefaultAction, leftClick or rightClick.

Using these functions, you could write scripts to do things like find and speak a particular heading, add the numbers in the last row of a table and speak the total, and much more, all without moving the Virtual Cursor.

To demonstrate domain-specific scripting, we have included sample SharePoint scripts that allow you to access web-based toolbars on a SharePoint domain using the INSERT+CTRL+F8 keystroke. To enable these sample scripts, do the following:

  1. Create a confignames.ini file in your JAWS user settings folder located at C:\Users\Your User Name\AppData\Roaming\Freedom Scientific\JAWS\17.0\Settings\enu.
  2. Add the following lines.

If the scripts are not working, meaning that toolbars cannot be activated with the INSERT+CTRL+F8 keystroke, check the address of the current domain. If necessary, add another line to your confignames.ini to enable that domain to be recognized so that the sharePoint sample scripts load.

Liblouis Braille Translator now included for English

JAWS 17 has switched to the popular and widely accepted open-source Liblouis braille translator. This new translation now offers both contracted and uncontracted Unified English Braille (UEB) and the more traditional Contracted English Braille (CEB) when reading and writing. Starting in 2016, UEB will become the standard in the United States. Switching now to Liblouis will ensure JAWS offers the latest standards for UEB translation.

New in JAWS Touch Screen Support

Since JAWS 15, users have had the ability to interact with the touch screens found on various devices like the Dell Venue series of Windows tablets. Using one and multi-finger gestures such as taps, flicks, and swipes, users navigate to and activate controls, read text, and perform other common JAWS functions. In JAWS 17, we have continued to enhance touch screen support by providing access to the Windows touch keyboard as well as adding the ability to edit and select text in documents, messages, or web pages right from the touch screen.

Support for the Windows Touch Keyboard

JAWS 17 offers full support for the Windows touch keyboard, enabling you to write documents, email messages, and fill out forms on the Internet right on your device's touch screen if you do not have access to a physical keyboard. While a regular keyboard is still recommended for writing lengthy documents or performing complex editing tasks, using the Touch keyboard is convenient for writing a quick note, composing or replying to an email, or filling out a form on a web site.

To activate the Touch Keyboard, double tap the Start Touch Keyboard button on the Desktop, or perform the new JAWS gesture, four-finger swipe down then up. JAWS announces "opened Touch Keyboard" and plays an ascending sound. Once enabled, the keyboard is positioned in the bottom part of the screen and each key is represented by a button. Use flick gestures to move to each key, or drag your finger around the screen to explore and locate keys. While exploring, JAWS plays a unique set of sounds to alert you when you enter or leave the area of the screen containing the touch keyboard. Once you become familiar with the touch keyboard layout, you can tap at the location of each key. To close the touch keyboard, perform another four-finger swipe down then up. JAWS announces "closed touch keyboard" and plays a descending sound.

JAWS offers two different modes for typing characters:

  • Standard Typing: A key is typed when a double tap or split tap is performed on the screen after exploring to any of the keyboard buttons. If alternative characters are available for the current keyboard button, a triple tap will open a panel of alternative keys related to the selected key. Performing a triple tap on any keyboard button in the alternative characters panel will close the panel. Standard Typing is the default mode.
  • Touch Typing: A key is typed when the finger is lifted from any of the keyboard buttons, or a split tap is performed on the selected keyboard button. If alternative characters are available for the current keyboard button, a split double tap will open a panel of alternative keys related to the selected key. Performing a split double tap on any keyboard button in the alternative characters panel will close the panel.

Use the new Touch Keyboard settings group located in the main Keyboard group in Settings center to change the typing mode as well as choose whether JAWS announces characters, words, both characters and words, or is silent as you type using the touch keyboard. You can also change how you are notified when the touch keyboard or the panel of alternate characters opens and closes.

Note: Changing the feedback for the touch keyboard is separate from the feedback for the physical keyboard. This means you can have JAWS say nothing when using a regular keyboard, but continue to announce both characters and words when using the touch keyboard.

Text Selection and Other Improvements in Text Reading Mode

Text reading is one of the three gesture modes that can be activated by rotating two fingers on the screen. JAWS 17 will now also automatically switch to Text Reading if you double tap on an element that supports cursor navigation such as an article in the News app, or the text area of an editing application like Microsoft Word. When Text Reading is activated using a double tap on a text element, for instance, the second paragraph of a document, JAWS attempts to position the cursor at the location of the double tap.

When Text Reading is active, flicking left or right moves by character, flicking left or right with two fingers moves by word, flicking up or down moves by line, flicking up or down with two fingers moves by paragraph, flicking left or right with three fingers moves to the beginning or end of a line, and flicking up or down with three fingers moves to the top or bottom of the text area. In addition, you can now flick up or down with four fingers to move by page, similar to using PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN. These gestures also move the cursor, enabling you to navigate to the location in a document where you want to insert text or begin selecting text. For example, you could flick up with two fingers to move to the prior paragraph, flick left or right to position the focus on a blank line, and then begin typing to insert text at that location.

Performing a triple tap on the screen with one finger will now toggle text selection on or off. When enabled, using any of the above text reading gestures will select the specific unit as well as move to it. For example, to move to and select the next line, perform a triple tap and then flick down. Text will continue to be selected as you navigate until you perform a triple tap again to turn it off. To read currently selected text, you can now perform a two-finger triple tap.

Other Touch Screen Improvements

Dragging a finger around the screen to explore and hear each element now works in Text Reading mode in addition to Touch Navigation mode. If Text Reading is currently active and you explore to an item that does not support this mode, JAWS will automatically switch back to Touch Navigation. As you explore, you can now have JAWS announce the character or word at the current location by performing a split tap or split double tap.

If you encounter an element that does not support standard cursor navigation, such as a button, or an item in a list, performing a three-finger swipe down then up now opens a Virtual Viewer window containing the name of the element. You can then use the navigation gestures described above to review this information. This is useful if you want to review a control in greater detail that you did not quite understand when it was announced by JAWS during exploration or when tapping it. When this mode is active, you will not be able to navigate to other items on the screen. If you explore outside of the Virtual Viewer, JAWS plays a sound to indicate you are no longer in the window. Performing the three-finger swipe down then up gesture again will close the Virtual Viewer.

Sports Scores Lookup Sources Temporarily Removed from Research It

Until we can get cooperation from ESPN to allow access to their sports results using the Research It feature, the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NCAA Scores lookup sources have been removed. We hope to add them back in the future once a solution is reached.

Merge Utility No Longer Available

Major changes have been made to improve the JAWS localization process. This included reorganizing many of the JAWS settings files. Due to these changes, the Merge utility is no longer installed with JAWS 17 as settings from prior versions cannot be merged. We are planning a solution for the future which will replace this utility and provide an even greater benefit for our customers.

Enhancements in JAWS 17.0.806 (Public Beta 2)

The following is a list of improvements made between the first Public Beta and Public Beta 2. Note that while many customer reported enhancements are included in this release, the following is a list of more notable changes.

Braille Settings Changes

In order to make changing the braille language as well as the input and output modes more intuitive, the Contracted Braille Settings page in the Startup Wizard has been renamed to Braille Format Settings and now contains the following options:

  • Language: This combo box allows you to choose a braille language. For example, English, Spanish, French, German, and so on.
  • Output: Use this combo box to configure the output mode for reading Braille on your display. The first option is always Computer Braille. Additional options depend on the currently selected language. For example, when the language is set to English United States, the available output modes are U.S. English Grade 1, U.S. English Grade 2, Unified English Braille Grade 1, and Unified English Braille Grade 2. If you set the language to French, the available modes are French Grade 1 and French Grade 2.
  • Input: Use this combo box to specify the input mode used when typing Braille from the Perkins-style keyboard on your display. The first option is always Computer Braille. The second option depends on the currently selected output mode. For example, if Unified English Braille Grade 2 is selected for output, it will be available for input. This setting is not available if the selected output mode is Computer Braille, or the selected output mode does not support input.

These settings can also be found in Settings Center by opening the Braille Group, opening the General subgroup, and then opening the New Format subgroup.

Note: There are currently issues with changing these settings in non-English builds. These will be resolved in public beta 3.

Explore Scripts

A new Explore Scripts shortcut has been added to the Utilities folder in Windows 8 and later and the Explore JAWS submenu located under the JAWS program group in Windows 7 and earlier. Selecting this shortcut opens the folder where the shared script files are stored.

Script Compatibility Mode

By default, scripts compiled using the Script Manager or the scompile.exe command line tool in JAWS 17 will not work with prior versions of JAWS. This is due to changes in JAWS 17 to improve the localization process. In order to compile scripts that will work in JAWS 17 as well as prior versions, select the new Compatibility Mode option from the File Menu in Script Manager, or use the –c command line option if using scompile.exe.

Note: If you compile scripts with the compatibility option, and your scripts use messages defined in JSM files that ship with JAWS 17, those messages will always be in English regardless of the language of the JAWS version that’s running.

Localization Changes

Significant modifications have been made to greatly simplify the amount of work necessary to translate JAWS into other languages, which in turn will decrease the delay in getting JAWS releases to international markets. In public beta 2, we have resolved numerous instances where English message strings were being heard in non-English builds.

Tablet Orientation Notification

JAWS now indicates in both speech and braille when the screen orientation changes between portrait and landscape. When changing to landscape, JAWS says "landscape, with home button to the left" or "landscape, with home button to the right", depending on the position of the tablet. When changing to portrait, JAWS says "portrait" or "portrait flipped."

Other Improvements

  • Smart Navigation is now available in HTML email messages in Outlook when enabled through the Startup Wizard.
  • With Smart Navigation set to Controls and Tables or Controls, resolved an issue where JAWS would sometimes appear to become stuck in certain web pages or HTML email messages.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue where the ARROW keys continued to navigate a table in Smart Navigation even when Keyboard Help was active.
  • Addressed a reported issue where navigating in Outlook was not working as expected after using Research It.
  • Resolved an issue where HTML code was being displayed in the results for the CNN Headline News Stories Research It Lookup source.
  • Addressed issues related to sluggishness in Excel.
  • Improved how JAWS works with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM addin for Outlook.
  • When set to U.S. English Grade 2 Braille, resolved a reported issue where the less than and greater than symbols for various controls such as check boxes and radio buttons were not being displayed correctly.
  • Updated the tutor help messages for split buttons in Office 2016.
  • Resolved an issue with the LinkedIn web site where JAWS was reading the previous line while typing a message.
  • Addressed a reported issue encountered in Mozilla Thunderbird where tables in messages were being announced even if the option to announce tables was disabled in Settings Center.
  • Resolved issues with navigating a table in PowerPoint edit mode.
  • Resolved an issue with indentation not being announced in Notepad even when the Say Indented Characters option was enabled in Settings Center.
  • Addressed a reported issue encountered in Word 2013 where the text size of fonts was not being reported correctly in some instances.
  • This update includes new Braille Note drivers from Humanware which now support status cells.
  • Resolved an issue where selected text in a Java application was not being indicated in Braille.

Download JAWS 17

The following briefly describes how to download, save, and install the JAWS public beta release.

  1. Select the preferred language which will list the available download links (By default English is selected).
  2. Select the appropriate download link.
  3. When the dialog box opens, choose Save and select a location where you can easily find the downloaded executable file. Make sure to download the correct version (64-bit or 32-bit) for your computer, which we have detected is a -bit computer. Instructions to verify whether you have a 64-bit or 32-bit computer can be found at the bottom of this page.
  4. Run the executable and follow the talking installer.

If your corporate firewall prevents you from downloading files using FTP (File Transfer Protocol), choose the HTTP protocol instead.

Do I need to download the 64-bit or 32-bit version of software

  1. Press WINDOWS Key+E to open Windows Explorer.
  2. If you are using Windows 7, you should be focused on the OS (C:) drive and can press SPACEBAR to select it, and then ENTER to display the contents on the root of the C drive.
    If you are in Windows 8, you will have to first press RIGHT ARROW to navigate to the OS (C:) drive, and then proceed to press SPACEBAR and ENTER to open the root of C.
  3. Press the letter P until you reach the "Program Files" folder, and then press P once more.
    If you have 64-bit Windows, you have two folders: one named "Program Files" and another named "Program Files (x86)."
    If you have 32-bit Windows, you only have one folder named "Program Files."
  4. Please select the appropriate 64-bit or 32-bit version to run on your system.