What's New in JAWS 18 Screen Reading Software

This page describes the new features and improvements available in JAWS 18.

  • Download JAWS
  • JAWS 18 Enhancements, for a complete list of enhancements made in this release, including the most recent update.
  • FSCast web page, provides demonstrations of the exciting features in JAWS 18.
  • Read previous JAWS release notes by selecting a version from the list

JAWS 18 Features

Support for Vocalizer Expressive 2.2 Voices

JAWS 18 supports version 2.2 of the Vocalizer Expressive Voices from Nuance. Vocalizer Expressive offers very responsive, high quality, human-sounding speech in a wide variety of languages and dialects. Current voices users are familiar with such as Samantha, Tom, Daniel, and Karen have been updated to improve responsiveness and clarity. There are also several new voices available such as Susan and Nathan for United States English and Oliver for British English, just to name a few. For international users, Vocalizer Expressive 2.2 also offers support for a number of new languages including Bengali_India, Bhojpuri_India, Bulgarian, Croatian, Kannada, Spanish_Chilean, Tamil, Telugu, and Valencian.

Just like with the older Vocalizer Expressive Voices, all Vocalizer Expressive 2.2 voices can be downloaded for free from the Synthesizer Downloads web page in two forms, compact or high premium.

Compact voices are smaller files and take up much less space on your computer. Many users like them because they offer very good quality at faster speech rates. These are the same voices that are used on iOS devices from Apple, like the iPhone. Due to their small size, compact voices are available in one file per language. For instance, if you download the compact voices for English, you will get a single file containing all English speaking voices for all dialects, which gives you a wide variety of voices to choose from.

You can also choose to download individual high-premium voices. These are much larger files, but offer the highest overall sound quality. High-premium voices can be installed along with the compact voices, so you can switch between the compact or high-premium version of the same voice if needed.

The new Vocalizer Expressive 2.2 voices are only available for JAWS 18 and later. If you previously installed Vocalizer Expressive Voices that were used with JAWS versions prior to JAWS 18, those voices will continue to work with earlier versions but will no longer be seen by JAWS 18 once you have installed your first Vocalizer Expressive 2.2 voice.

Improved Performance when Using JAWS and ZoomText Together

JAWS 18 introduces greatly improved interoperability with the soon to be released ZoomText 11. Users of both these industry leading products will experience more seamless operation when running JAWS 18 and ZoomText 11 together regardless of the order in which they are installed as well as which product is started first.

When JAWS 18 and ZoomText 11 are running together, users should note the following:

  • JAWS handles all speech functions except for ZoomText's App Reader feature and speech directly from ZoomText, such as ZoomText scripts.
  • All ZoomText magnification features will continue to work as expected. In addition, ZoomText will now visually highlight and track during a JAWS Say All, or when navigating using the Virtual Cursor.
  • If there is a keystroke conflict, the JAWS keystroke is used instead. Otherwise, JAWS and ZoomText keystrokes will continue to work as expected.
  • ZoomText handles all touch related functions.

Since JAWS takes over all speech functions when running with ZoomText, this also includes mouse echo. If you want the mouse to echo as it is moved, you will need to enable mouse echo in JAWS as it is off by default. The easiest way is to press the layered keystroke, INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, O. However, this is only temporary and will revert back to off if JAWS is restarted. If you intend on using mouse echo all the time, you can permanently enable it by doing the following:

  1. Press INSERT+F2, and select Settings Center.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the JAWS default settings.
  3. From the tree view, expand the Mouse Echo group and press SPACEBAR on Enable Mouse Echo.

Migrate Settings from Prior Versions of JAWS

We have reintroduced the ability for users to merge all user customized settings from the prior version of JAWS into the latest version. This includes any application and default settings, scripts, dictionary entries, graphics labels, PlaceMarkers, flexible web rules, personalized web settings including custom labels, speech and sounds schemes, and voice profiles. When JAWS 18 first starts after an install and it detects that there are custom user settings for JAWS 17 available, you will be asked if you want to migrate these settings to the current version of JAWS. Choose Yes to migrate settings from JAWS 17, or choose No to start with the default settings in JAWS 18 and launch the Startup Wizard.

Once the settings have been migrated, a dialog box opens where you can configure the JAWS startup options. This dialog box contains the same options found in the Start JAWS Options dialog box, which is accessed from the JAWS window by opening the Options menu, Selecting Options, and then choosing the Automatically Start JAWS button. Once you have confirmed how you want JAWS to start, choose OK to save and close the dialog box.

Note: Due to significant changes to the settings file structure prior to JAWS 17, custom user settings cannot be migrated from versions of JAWS older than version 17.

Completely New Import and Export for JAWS Customized User Settings

JAWS 18 now enables you to quickly and conveniently export all of your JAWS user settings including application and default settings, custom scripts, dictionary entries, graphics labels, PlaceMarkers, flexible web rules, personalized web settings including custom labels, speech and sounds schemes, and voice profiles to a single backup file which can be stored or shared with other JAWS users. The JAWS settings backup files are saved with an SBAK extension. This backup file can then be easily imported on any computer running JAWS 18 or later and these settings will be used by that copy of JAWS.

To export settings to an SBAK file, open the Utilities menu located in the JAWS application window, open the Import/Export menu, and select Export Settings. The Export Settings wizard opens and guides you through exporting your settings. During this process, you can choose to export all user settings, or select specific settings to export. By default, the SBAK file is saved to the Desktop using the name JAWS<Version Number>SettingsBackup (where Version Number is the JAWS version currently running when using the export feature). You can specify a different location and file name if necessary, as well as add optional comments to provide more information about why you are creating the backup. Once the export is complete, the SBAK file containing your settings can be shared with other JAWS users through email or a file sharing service such as Dropbox, or stored on a USB flash drive.

To import JAWS settings from an SBAK file, open the Utilities menu located in the JAWS application window, open the Import/Export menu, and select Import Settings. The Import User Settings wizard opens and guides you through importing the settings. By default, the import will merge the settings from the backup file with existing user settings and if a setting in the user folder conflicts with a setting from the backup file, it will be replaced by the setting from the backup. However, you can also choose to simply replace all current settings in the user folder with the contents of the backup or, when merging and there is a settings conflict, you can choose to keep the current setting.

During the settings import, the current settings in your user folder are automatically backed up. If you find that the settings that were imported from the SBAK file are not working as expected, you can restore the previous settings. To restore, open the Utilities menu located in the JAWS application window, open the Import/Export menu, and select Restore Settings. The Restore Settings dialog box opens where you can select the backup file to restore. Choose the Restore button to replace the current settings in your JAWS user folder with the settings from the backup.

Some instances of when you might use this feature include:

  • You want to use the same JAWS settings on multiple computers, such as in a training center or school computer lab.
  • You create a lot of customizations and you want to be able to back them up so you can easily import them when you install a new version of JAWS, eliminating the task of having to manually reconfigure everything.
  • A friend would like to use some of your flexible web rules and voice profiles. You could use the Export Settings wizard to only export these particular settings, send the resulting SBAK file to your friend, and if they are running JAWS 18 or later, they can import the file containing your flexible web rules and voice profiles into their copy of JAWS.
  • A script developer could send you a SBAK file containing custom scripts and settings for an application that is used at your job and the Import Settings wizard will quickly import all settings and script files to the correct locations in your JAWS user folder.

Restrict Virtual Cursor in Web-Based dialog boxes

If a dialog box appears on a web page as a result of an action such as activating a specific control, which can occur especially on pages that are part of a web-based application, JAWS now restricts Virtual Cursor navigation to the dialog box. Sometimes, depending on how the web application is implemented, when focus moves into these dialog boxes, the content of the surrounding page is hidden until focus moves out of the dialog box. However, in many instances, the dialog content merges with the surrounding page which can be confusing especially when you only want to focus on the content in the web dialog box.

JAWS automatically restricts Virtual Cursor navigation to the dialog box when some action occurs that moves the focus into that dialog box. This includes navigating to an edit field in the dialog box with the ARROW keys and Auto Forms mode is enabled, navigating using the TAB or SHIFT+TAB keys, or activating a control on the page that automatically sets focus to the dialog box. When the Virtual Cursor is restricted, both speech and braille will only navigate content in the dialog box until restriction is disabled. The Virtual Cursor will be automatically unrestricted if you use the TAB or SHIFT+TAB keys to move focus away from the dialog box, or you perform an action in the dialog box that causes focus to be moved to another part of the page, or a completely new page loads.

You can also use the INSERT+R keystroke when focused in a web dialog box to manually toggle the Virtual Cursor between restricted and unrestricted. For instance, you may wish to unrestrict the Virtual Cursor to review page content outside of the dialog box without moving focus.

Note: In some web applications, surrounding page content is hidden when a dialog box is in focus, so unrestricting the Virtual Cursor to view content outside the dialog box will not always work in these situations.

New Speech Option as You Move the Physical Mouse Around the Screen

The new mouse echo feature enables JAWS to speak text under the mouse pointer as you move around the screen using a physical mouse or as you move your finger on a trackpad. If you use a refreshable braille display, text under the mouse is also shown in braille as a flash message.

While totally blind users may not benefit very much from this feature, there are some cases where it can be useful. For example, there may be times where someone is trying to understand the positioning of text or the layout of controls on the screen, and this could be helpful. You also may encounter applications that have controls that cannot be accessed with any of the JAWS cursors and you must use the physical mouse to locate and activate them.

For users that have some vision, the ability to also receive speech feedback as they move the physical mouse is very useful. There are also more improvements coming for those who use both MAGic and JAWS together.

If you find that you struggle to keep the mouse in a straight line when moving vertically or horizontally, press and hold the INSERT key (or CAPSLOCK key in Laptop layout) as you move the mouse in a specific direction to lock the mouse pointer to that position. For example, if you locate a menu bar or group of buttons you would like to explore, you could press and hold INSERT as you move the mouse to the right. If you accidentally move slightly up or down, the mouse pointer remains locked to the current position.

Mouse echo is off by default. To turn it on, open Settings Center, press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the default settings file, expand the mouse echo group, and then press the SPACEBAR on Enable Mouse Echo. You can also configure the following:

  • Choose whether or not JAWS interrupts speech as you move the mouse pointer over text. By default, JAWS speaks the new text moved to with the mouse regardless of what is currently being spoken.
  • Specify the length of time JAWS waits before speaking the text at the location of the mouse pointer. If you move the mouse pointer away before the delay has elapsed, JAWS does not read the text. By default there is no delay which means text is read while the mouse is in motion so you do not have to pause to hear the text under the mouse.
  • Select the unit of text (character, word, line, or paragraph) you want to hear when the mouse pointer pauses over text in a control. By default, JAWS reads the current line of text under the mouse. This means that if you move the mouse pointer into the document area of an application such as Microsoft Word, JAWS will read the line of text under the mouse. As you continue moving the mouse around the edit control, JAWS will read other lines from the document. If the control cannot provide the requested unit of text, then JAWS will read all of the text provided by the control. For example, if you move the mouse into the edit control of the Windows 10 Sticky Notes app, JAWS will read the entire contents of the edit field instead of the specified unit of text.
  • Choose whether or not JAWS speaks descriptive information provided by the control that contains the text at the mouse pointer. This information will be spoken after the text at the mouse pointer is spoken. Note that descriptive text is not always available. The default is to not speak this information.
  • Choose whether or not JAWS speaks the control type and state of the control containing the text at the mouse pointer. This information will be spoken after the text at the mouse pointer is spoken. The default is to speak control information.

Alternatively, the following layered keystrokes are available to control mouse echo:

  • INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, O. Toggles mouse echo on or off.
  • INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, C. Sets mouse echo to speak the character under the mouse pointer in controls that support navigating by units of text.
  • INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, W. Sets mouse echo to speak the word under the mouse pointer in controls that support navigating by units of text.
  • INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, L. Sets mouse echo to speak the line under the mouse pointer in controls that support navigating by units of text.
  • INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, P. Sets mouse echo to speak the paragraph under the mouse pointer in controls that support navigating by units of text.
  • INSERT+SPACEBAR, E, QUESTION MARK. Speaks a brief help message describing the commands in the mouse echo layer.

Note: When JAWS 18 and MAGic 13.1 are run together, the current mouse echo settings for MAGic will be ignored in favor of JAWS Mouse Echo speech settings. When exiting JAWS so only MAGic is running, the original mouse echo settings configured in MAGic will be used. In addition, if MAGic's Mouse Line Lock feature is enabled, the mouse line lock functionality in JAWS is disabled.

Lower the Audio from Other Programs While JAWS is Speaking

In Windows 8 and later, you can now specify that the volume of audio from other programs be lowered while JAWS is speaking. This is commonly known as audio ducking. For example, if you are listening to music or playing a video and JAWS begins talking, the volume of the music or video will be slightly lowered so you can comfortably hear JAWS and then raised back to its current level when JAWS stops talking.

For JAWS users with a braille display, you can also choose to mute JAWS speech (INSERT+SPACEBAR, S) while listening to audio from other programs and still use JAWS with braille output only, without the audio from the other programs being reduced.

By default, audio remains at the same volume as JAWS speech. To change this, there are two ways. The easiest way is to open the Startup Wizard from the JAWS Help menu and select the Lower the volume of other programs while JAWS is speaking checkbox located on the Speech Settings page.

Alternatively, you can change this option through Settings Center by doing the following:

  1. Press INSERT+F2, and select Settings Center.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the JAWS default settings.
  3. In the Search edit box, type "volume" without the quotes.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to "Lower the volume of other programs while JAWS is speaking" in the filtered search results in the tree view.
  5. Press SPACEBAR to toggle this option.

Finally, you can also press INSERT+SPACEBAR, followed by D to quickly toggle this feature. If audio ducking is off by default, it will turn it on, and if it is on by default, it will turn it off. The current setting will remain in effect until you press the layered keystroke again, or JAWS is restarted. The audio ducking toggle can also be located using the Command Search feature (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J).

Note: Turning on JAWS audio ducking is most useful if both JAWS speech and other program audio are coming through the same sound device. If you use multiple sound devices, such as a USB headset and external speakers connected to your computer's sound card, you can configure JAWS speech to use the headset while other audio comes through the external speakers which you can then control using the physical volume control. To configure the sound card JAWS uses, from the JAWS application window, open the Utilities menu, open the Sound Cards submenu, and then choose the sound device you want to use for JAWS speech.

Improvements with JAWS Touch Support

JAWS 18 offers improved performance when using a touch screen device, such as the Surface Pro tablet from Microsoft, as well as tablets with smaller screens. You will experience greater accuracy and responsiveness as you perform various touch gestures including continuously moving a finger around the screen to explore. You can also now perform Windows gestures without the need to first exit JAWS. The new four-finger rotate gesture causes the next gesture to be passed directly to Windows; similar to the Pass Key Through command (INSERT+3). Performing a five-finger rotate gesture will now disable all JAWS gestures, except the four and five-finger rotate gestures, so you can use Windows gestures until you perform another five-finger rotate to re-enable the JAWS gestures.

Other improvements to JAWS touch support include:

  • JAWS touch gestures are now included in the Command Search feature (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J). If you search for a command that can be performed using a keystroke or a gesture, both the keystroke and gesture are displayed in the search results. You can also search for gesture-specific commands, such as toggling the Touch Keyboard, or cycling through Touch Navigation, Text Reading, or Speech Settings gesture modes. The JAWS Command Search only includes gestures if JAWS detects that it is running on a touch screen enabled device.
  • It is now much easier to use gestures to switch between applications in the task switching window that displays when you swipe from the left edge of the screen. When the task switcher opens, flick left or right through the list of running applications and when you locate the one you want, double tap it to move focus in to that app.
  • Improved the experience when using touch gestures to log into Windows. If the Login screen is active and focus is on the Password edit field, performing a double tap will immediately open the touch keyboard allowing you to enter your password. Otherwise, flick right or explore until you locate the Password edit field and then double tap to set focus and open the touch keyboard.
  • In response to user feedback, the default typing mode for the touch keyboard is now Touch Typing, which means a key is typed as soon as the finger is lifted from the keyboard button, or you perform a split tap.
  • If the gesture mode is set to Text Reading, you can now perform a four-finger swipe down to begin a Say All in the currently open document, similar to pressing INSERT+DOWN ARROW on the keyboard. To stop reading, tap anywhere on the screen.
  • In response to customer requests, added a new option to the Touch Cursor group in Quick Settings that allows you to choose the element type that is navigated to when using the flick up and flick down gestures. The available choices are Regions (selected by default), Headings, List Items, Buttons, Links, Groups, and Form Controls. Note that not all apps support these navigation types; they are typically available in modern apps and web applications.

Refer to the Overview of JAWS Touch Support document for more information and to review all the available JAWS gestures.

Launch JAWS on Tablets Using Hardware Buttons

You can configure the Windows and Volume Up buttons on a tablet to start JAWS instead of Narrator when these buttons are pressed simultaneously. This is done through the Ease of Access Center in Windows by doing the following:

  1. Open the Start menu, type "ease of access", and then press ENTER to open the Ease of Access Center.
  2. Navigate to the "Make Touch and Tablets Easier to Use" link and press ENTER.
  3. In the Accessibility Tools combo box, select JAWS 18.
  4. Choose OK, and then close the Ease of Access Center.

The next time you are in a situation where JAWS is not running, you can press the Windows and Volume Up buttons together to quickly launch it from anywhere in Windows. If you are on the Secure Desktop or Windows Login screen, these hardware buttons will always launch Narrator. However, once you are logged in, these buttons will now start JAWS 18.

Improved Google Docs Support

JAWS 18 offers significant improvements when working in Google Docs. While users will experience better performance overall, a few key enhancements include:

  • You can now type text into a document using Contracted Braille.
  • Added speech and braille support for navigating tables inserted into documents.
  • Resolved several issues with JAWS not detecting live region updates.
  • Addressed issues where JAWS was announcing extraneous information when opening menus.
  • Resolved several issues with menus and focus.
  • Resolved multiple issues where focus would unexpectedly jump to other places while editing a document.

More Dynamic Braille Auto Advance Mode

Auto Advance Mode is equivalent to the Say All command for braille readers and has been available in JAWS for many years. After performing the appropriate command on your braille display (left and right selector buttons on the Focus series displays), the braille display is automatically panned at a specific speed through an entire document, automatically skipping over blank segments and blank lines. In prior versions, users could configure how long JAWS paused before automatically panning the display. Once configured, the display would pan at the same speed regardless of how much information was on the display, so most users would set the timer for optimal reading when the display was full. However, if the display panned to a short line containing only a few words with the remaining cells being empty, which could occur more frequently with larger displays such as those with 40 or 80 cells, this could be inconvenient as the user would have to wait for the display to advance which could cause an interruption with reading.

To improve the reading experience when using Auto Advance Mode, JAWS now pans faster or slower depending on the length of the current braille line. The display will pan faster for short lines so you can instantly move to the next segment without having to wait once you have finished reading, but will pan slower for longer lines up to a maximum length of time which is used when the display is full. This maximum value can be configured through Settings Center using the new Auto Advance Maximum Interval option. By default, it is set to 5000 milliseconds, or five seconds.

For example, if you have an 80 cell display and the current braille line takes up the majority of the display, JAWS will pan the display after five seconds. If the display pans to a short line containing only a few words and the remaining cells are blank, JAWS will pan the display within a couple seconds.

Updated Handy Tech Braille Display Drivers

JAWS 18 includes updated braille display drivers from Handy Tech. These new drivers fix issues with braille input and language detection for messages and introduces support for their latest displays.

ARIA Improvements

JAWS 18 ads support for several ARIA 1.1 features that are being used on certain web pages. These include the aria-modal, aria-current, and aria-placeholder attributes, as well as support for partially visible tables.

Right to Left Languages Support

Starting with JAWS 18, we are supporting speech for Right to Left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew in each version of JAWS including English. While this does not include the localized JAWS user interface, or proper support for those Windows versions or applications such as Office, it does mean that reading documents or web pages would now work as expected with speech.

Changes to Sentence Navigation Keystrokes in the Desktop Keyboard Layout

In the JAWS Desktop Keyboard Layout, pressing ALT+DOWN ARROW or ALT+UP ARROW moves to the next or prior sentence, or opens and closes combo boxes. In addition, some applications also use these keystrokes to perform their own specific functions which means JAWS users need to first press INSERT+3 to pass these keystrokes through to the application so they work correctly. For instance, ALT+DOWN ARROW and ALT+UP ARROW are used in the attachments area in Microsoft Outlook 2016 to open and close the list of actions you can perform with the selected attachment.

To avoid potential conflicts, ALT+DOWN ARROW and ALT+UP ARROW in the desktop keyboard layout will now only move by sentence in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, the message area in Microsoft Outlook, and when using the Virtual Cursor unless focused on a combo box. If you want sentence navigation to work in other applications, you can use the Keyboard Manager to reassign the Say Next Sentence and Say Prior Sentence commands, or switch to the laptop keyboard layout and use CAPS LOCK+N and CAPS LOCK+Y to move by sentence.

To assign new keystrokes for sentence navigation, do the following:

  1. Press INSERT+F2 and select Keyboard Manager.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the default key map file.
  3. Press TAB to move to the list view and locate the "SayNextSentence" script.
  4. Press CTRL+A to open the Add Keystroke dialog box, press the key combination you want to use, and press ENTER. Press ENTER once more to confirm the change and return to the list view.
  5. Locate the "SayPriorSentence" script.
  6. Press CTRL+A to open the Add Keystroke dialog box, press the key combination you want to use, and press ENTER. Press ENTER once more to confirm the change and return to the list view, and then press ALT+F4 to close the Keyboard Manager.

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Enhancements in JAWS 18.0.2530 (February 2017)

The following is a list of improvements made between the JAWS 18 January 2017 release and the February 2017 update.

To download the latest release, visit the Downloads web page.

New Support for ElBraille Applications

This update adds JAWS scripts for Keyboard Editor and ElNotes, applications included specifically on the new ElBraille, a Windows 10 Notetaker from Elita Group.

The ElBraille is a Windows 10 computer in the shape and size of a traditional notetaker, and is designed for users who are blind or deaf-blind and want to stay connected at school, work, or home as well as on the go. The twenty-first century, take anywhere replacement for the dedicated notetaker, ElBraille combines the power and flexibility of a modern mainstream computer running the Windows 10 operating system with JAWS and a braille display with a full braille keyboard to offer a fully accessible compact computer. JAWS provides the best screen reader experience with either Eloquence speech output or the highly responsive and life-like Vocalizer Expressive Compact voices as well as full braille output. Type text into documents or perform JAWS and Windows commands right from the braille display's keyboard using the JAWS BrailleIn feature. Run any Windows application such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook. Use FSReader to read DAISY books from sources such as Bookshare.org or browse the internet with Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. ElBraille also includes a set of specially designed apps for performing popular actions such as the creation of voice or text notes, listening to audio content, and more.

The ElNotes application developed by Elita Group is designed to create, store, and manage text and voice notes on the ElBraille Notetaker. ElNotes allows a user to quickly create text and voice notes using a set of special keystrokes and then export them to TXT or MP3 files respectively, if needed. These files are saved to a user-specified folder and then are available to be read and listened to using other ElBraille applications.

The ElBraille Keyboard Editor is designed for adding, modifying, and removing keystrokes using ElBraille buttons and Focus 14 Blue keys. Users can assign a keystroke to launch an application, simulate a QWERTY keyboard shortcut, or perform a JAWS script.

Amazon Kindle App Support

JAWS now supports reading books in Amazon's Kindle for PC app version 1.19 and later. This enables users to access books purchased through the Amazon Kindle store right on their Windows PC using both speech and braille. Books can be navigated using all standard reading commands including reading by character, word, line, paragraph, and continuously with Say All. As JAWS reads, pages turn automatically so you can enjoy a book without interruption.

JAWS can only access Kindle books that support Enhanced Typesetting. The product details for the book on the Amazon web site indicates if Enhanced Typesetting is enabled. This exposes the necessary information to screen readers and provides access to the book content.

Tip: Pressing CTRL+HOME or CTRL+END while reading a Kindle book moves to the top or bottom of the current page instead of the top or bottom of the document as in other applications. To move to the beginning or end of the book, you can use the Go to Location dialog box which is accessed using the Kindle command CTRL+G.

Google Docs Improvements

To improve the user experience with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive, the Virtual Cursor is now turned off by default when focus is in any of these applications. Since these are basically programs running inside a browser window with their own sets of keystrokes, turning off the Virtual Cursor makes it much easier to interact and provides an environment that feels more like a standard application.

In some situations, the Virtual Cursor will be automatically turned on when it is needed to review information. For example, pressing CTRL+SLASH in Google Docs opens a page listing available Google shortcut keys. When the page opens, the Virtual Cursor is automatically turned on so you can review the keystrokes. When you press ESC to close the keyboard shortcuts page and return focus to the document, the Virtual Cursor is turned off again.

The very first time you open a Google Docs file, you will need to turn on Google's screen reader support and Braille Support before you can read and edit documents using JAWS. You will only need to do this once as both settings will remain on for all future documents. To enable screen reader support, press ALT+CTRL+Z. You should hear the announcement "Screen reader support enabled." To enable braille support, Press ALT+SHIFT+A for the Accessibility menu, open the Settings submenu, and press ENTER on Enable Braille Support. This setting must be enabled even if you do not use a refreshable braille display.

In addition, some other key improvements include:

  • Pressing INSERT+F1 in Google Docs or Google Sheets now displays some basic help including useful keystrokes.
  • Pressing INSERT+C in Google Sheets now announces the current cell coordinates.
  • Support for bulleted and numbered lists.
  • You can now use the INSERT+B command to read the contents of web dialog boxes in Google Docs such as Spell Checker or Preferences.
  • The JAWS table navigation commands (CTRL+ALT+ARROW keys) now work as expected in Firefox and Chrome when reading tables in Google documents.
  • Addressed an issue where Say All would stop unexpectedly when reading in Google Docs with Chrome.
  • When navigating by line over headings in a document in Google Docs, resolved an issue where the contents of the Chrome address bar were being spoken prior to the heading text.

JAWS

  • When both JAWS and ZoomText are running, resolved issues with the CAPS LOCK key not always working as expected in the desktop keyboard layout when used with other keys to perform commands or when pressing it twice quickly to turn caps lock on or off.
  • Added Landmarks as an available navigation type for the Touch Cursor (SHIFT+NUM PAD PLUS). To cycle through the different navigation types, use PAGE UP or PAGE DOWN. Landmarks are used in several Windows 10 apps including Weather for improved navigation.
  • Updated the JAWS UIA Script API to support the latest properties and values added by Microsoft. The JAWS UIA Script API gives scripters direct access to Microsoft's UIA (User Interface Automation) infrastructure through the JAWS Script language. See the Enhancements in Scripting page for more information.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue with the UPS Tracking Research IT lookup source not returning any results.
  • Addressed an issue where the INSERT+B command to read dialog boxes in tab order was not working as expected in the Microsoft OneDrive Sync dialog box.
  • The Mouse Echo Toggle key on the MAGic Large Print Keyboard now turns JAWS Mouse Echo on or off if JAWS is running by itself without MAGic.
  • During a JAWS Tandem session, if a User Account Control dialog box is displayed on a Windows 10 target system, resolved an issue where the Tandem video would freeze until the connection was closed and restarted. Also improved the screen refresh rate when changing the focus on a Windows 10 target system.

Microsoft Office

Note: We have been working very closely with Microsoft to improve the accessibility of Office 2016 (Office 365). Many of the following improvements were able to be made due to changes Microsoft implemented directly in Office. If you find that a particular fix is not working in your current version of Office, some of the changes documented below will not work as described until the next Office update scheduled to be released shortly.

  • When using the JAWS Command Search feature in Word to search for commands specific to Track Changes, addressed a reported issue where not all keystrokes were being displayed.
  • You can now read and edit headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, and comments in Word 2016.
  • While navigating tables in Word 2013 and 2016, resolved an issue where JAWS was not automatically announcing column and row headers.
  • Added support for the Smart Lookup and Researcher panes in Office 2016.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS was not indicating links in Office dialog boxes.
  • When searching for text in a Word document, addressed a reported issue where JAWS was not always reading the sentence containing the match when moving to the next result in the Navigation pane.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue in Word where JAWS was speaking the entire line as you typed and was also inserting characters in other parts of the document after using CTRL+UP ARROW or CTRL+DOWN ARROW to move by paragraph.
  • Resolved an issue reported by customers in Spain where closing Word 2007 with unsaved documents was sometimes causing problems with navigation and focus when multiple windows were open.
  • JAWS now announces position information, such as "4 of 10", in Outlook 2016 message lists when using the Say Line command (INSERT+UP ARROW).
  • Improved both speech and braille support for Data Validation combo boxes in Excel. These are accessed by pressing ALT+DOWN ARROW from the current cell.
  • JAWS now reads autocomplete suggestions in Excel 2016 for functions when entering a formula.
  • If an image on a slide in PowerPoint 2016 is selected, resolved an issue where no alt text was being displayed in braille, only the text "no selection."
  • Improved JAWS support for the Notes pane in PowerPoint 2016, especially when editing notes attached to a SmartArt graphic.
  • JAWS now detects SmartArt graphics during a slideshow in PowerPoint 2016.
  • Resolved an issue with Microsoft Project where JAWS was double speaking values in tables.

Web Browsers

  • Added support for the ARIA 1.1 colspan and rowspan properties as well as the new "feed" role.
  • Added support for the new values that can be assigned to the haspopup property in ARIA 1.1. For instance, depending on the value of ARIA-haspopup, you might hear JAWS say "has popup", "has popup menu", "has popup listbox", "has popup grid", "has popup tree", or "has popup dialog."
  • Added support for the ARIA-roledescription property in Internet Explorer.
  • Addressed an issue reported by the SSA where JAWS was not announcing levels when opening or closing treeview items in Internet Explorer.
  • Addressed a customer reported issue with JAWS not reading buttons as expected on the Amazon web site.
  • Addressed reported issues where JAWS was not always working properly with tables contained inside of a layout table using the ARIA role="presentation" property.
  • The Custom Label utility, which enables users to assign custom text labels to HTML elements on web pages, can now be used in Google Chrome. This utility is available from the Run JAWS Manager dialog box (INSERT+F2).
  • Improved JAWS reading in table cells containing large amounts of text when Document Presentation is set to Screen Layout.
  • Resolved issues where JAWS was speaking extraneous information while navigating in certain ARIA combo boxes.
  • Addressed an issue with Chrome where the Say To Cursor and Say From Cursor commands (INSERT+HOME and INSERT+PAGE UP) were reading the entire line in edit fields instead of the specific text.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue where JAWS was not speaking the correct text when tabbing through links in a Navigation region in Firefox.
  • Resolved an issue where navigating menus in Internet Explorer and Firefox using Focus Blue Braille display keys was not working as expected.

Windows Mail

  • When closing a message in the Windows 10 mail app which returns focus to the message list, JAWS no longer incorrectly says "not selected" for the current message.
  • The JAWS commands for navigating tables now work in tables inserted into a new email message.

Enhancements in JAWS 18.0.2324 (January 2017)

The following is a list of improvements made between the JAWS 18 December 2016 release and the January 2017 update.

JAWS

  • Improved JAWS interoperability with ZoomText 11 when using the JAWS laptop keyboard layout, both of which use the CAPS LOCK key as a modifier. For users that plan to run both JAWS and ZoomText using the JAWS Laptop layout, it is recommended you change the keyboard configuration in ZoomText 11 by selecting the Import HotKeys option under Command Keys and choosing the configuration named: "ZT_JAWS_Laptop_en-US.zxc." This will add the ALT key to many of the ZoomText commands that use CAPS LOCK in a key combination that conflicts with a keystroke in the JAWS Laptop layout. The only change for JAWS will be the process of toggling Caps lock on or off. You will need to press the CAPS LOCK key three times quickly in order to toggle it when using JAWS 18 Laptop layout with ZoomText 11.
  • Resolved an issue where pressing INSERT+F4 would not quit JAWS if focus was in Excel.
  • Addressed an issue with pasting text into an application during a JAWS Tandem session.
  • Improved JAWS automatic announcements of Windows 10 notifications.
  • Addressed an issue with JAWS not working as expected when trying to rename a custom label (INSERT+CTRL+TAB).
  • Resolved an issue where the Touch Cursor would not detect progress bar updates unless the Touch Cursor was moved away from the progress bar and then back to it.
  • Removed the People Search Research It lookup source as the web site used to retrieve results is no longer available. We hope to add it back in the future once another reliable service is found.

Web Browsers

  • Added support for the ARIA-details property in Internet Explorer and Firefox.
  • Addressed issues where JAWS was causing Internet Explorer to become sluggish or unexpectedly close on certain pages.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS was sometimes double speaking on HTML menu items in Internet Explorer 11.
  • When attempting to save a web page in Google Chrome, resolved an issue where both JAWS and Chrome would become unresponsive.
  • Resolved an issue reported by the SSA where JAWS was not reading multiple lines above an edit field when navigating using Navigation Quick Keys or TAB.
  • Resolved an issue reported by the SSA where JAWS was not reading combo box labels as expected.
  • Resolved a reported issue where JAWS was not speaking the ARIA-expanded attribute on links when tabbing.

Microsoft Outlook

  • You can now navigate Outlook 2016 message lists using JAWS table reading commands (ALT+CTRL+ARROW keys) just like reading a table in a document or web page. This makes it much easier to navigate and read message headers. You can even use the table layer (INSERT+SPACEBAR, T) where you can navigate with just the ARROW keys, which makes it convenient if you want to move quickly by row, but continue to hear the same column.

Microsoft Word

  • Addressed a customer reported issue where JAWS was not working as expected in the Word Count dialog box.

Enhancements in JAWS 18.0.2118 (December 2016)

The following is a list of improvements made between the initial JAWS 18 release and the December 2016 update.

JAWS

  • The keystroke to announce the comment at the cursor location in a Word document as well as all of the JAWS Tandem keystrokes can now be found using the JAWS Commands Search feature (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J).
  • You can now press a braille display cursor router button on a file in Windows Explorer to rename the file.
  • Addressed an issue with JAWS not reading as expected after using the mouse to minimize or close the Virtual Viewer.
  • Resolved an issue where some controls in the Windows Update dialog box were not being correctly identified as links when using Touch or Mouse Echo.
  • When changing the setting for the User Pan Mode option in Settings Center, resolved a reported issue where the corresponding option in Quick Settings was not getting changed.
  • Addressed a customer reported issue with braille flash messages using the "err" type not working when the flash message verbosity was set to Advanced.
  • Resolved a reported issue where JAWS was unexpectedly restarting under some circumstances when using the Auto Graphics Labeler.
  • Addressed reported issues with some Research It lookup sources not working as expected in both the Spanish and German versions of JAWS.
  • A customer using the Spanish version of JAWS reported several English messages and keystroke conflicts. These have been resolved.
  • In response to customer feedback, if a French keyboard has been added in Windows Regional Settings and LEFT ALT+LEFT SHIFT is pressed to switch the keyboard language, JAWS now announces when the keyboard language changes to French.
  • This update includes the latest braille display drivers from Humanware for the Brailliant BI and BrailleNote Touch.

JAWS Touch Support

  • The three-finger flick down and three-finger flick up gestures now cycle between the panes in various applications including the Windows Mail app, Microsoft Word, and JAWS Settings Center. This is similar to pressing F6 or SHIFT+F6 on the keyboard.
  • When you move to a slider control using touch, you can now flick up or down with one finger to adjust the value of the slider.
  • You can now review the contents of a command prompt window using touch gestures.
  • As you explore the screen with the touch keyboard active, JAWS now plays a sound to indicate when you are on a keyboard button.

Vocalizer Expressive 2.2

  • Resolved an issue where the Set Language as Primary button was not available as expected in the Voice Adjustment dialog box when configuring voice profiles for certain languages.
  • When creating a new voice profile, addressed an issue with certain languages where no voices were being listed in the Person combo box.
  • Resolved issues with the Speak Sample button not working as expected when creating a new voice profile.
  • Resolved a reported issue where there were no pauses in speech when the punctuation level was set to none.
  • Addressed an issue where it was not possible to switch to the English South Africa voice using the Select a Language dialog box (WINDOWS Key+CTRL+L).

Adobe Acrobat

  • While navigating in PDF documents, resolved an issue where focus was unexpectedly moving to a different location in the document.
  • Resolved a reported issue where JAWS was not reading graphics correctly in Acrobat Reader DC.

Microsoft Excel

  • In the Excel 2016 spell checker, addressed a reported issue where JAWS was saying "no selected item" while navigating the list of suggestions.
  • Updated the documentation for the Move to Worksheet keystroke (CTRL+SHIFT+S) to make it easier to locate using the JAWS Commands Search.

Microsoft Outlook

  • Resolved a customer reported issue where messages were automatically being read even when the Messages Automatically Read option in Quick Settings was turned off.
  • Resolved an issue with JAWS not correctly speaking the state of check boxes when creating custom search folders.
  • Improved JAWS performance when using the Outlook 2016 search (CTRL+E).
  • When using the CTRL+ALT+1 through 4 keystrokes to change the Calendar view in Outlook 2016, addressed an issue where JAWS was sometimes not indicating the view gaining focus.

Microsoft Word

  • Added a new Quick Settings option, Include Blank Paragraphs For Paragraph Navigation, to specify whether or not blank paragraphs are included when using CTRL+UP ARROW and CTRL+DOWN ARROW. When enabled, navigation in the Word document with CTRL+UP ARROW and CTRL+DOWN ARROW will include blank lines as well as paragraphs with text. This setting is off by default which means that blank lines are skipped.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue with Spanish JAWS where pressing CTRL+SHIFT+COMMA or CTRL+SHIFT+PERIOD in a Spanish version of Office to decrease or increase the font point size was not working as expected.
  • JAWS now provides better access to form fields in unprotected documents in Word 2016.
  • JAWS now indicates when split buttons in Office ribbons are unavailable.

Skype

  • JAWS now announces Sign in and Sign out notifications as well as other miscellaneous alerts that were not previously being announced reliably.

Web Browsers

  • JAWS now includes the contents of ARIA live regions in Braille Structured Mode. A good example to see this is Google Sheets, Google's web-based spreadsheet program. Before this change, JAWS could speak cell coordinates or contents, but this information was not displayed in braille. Now, JAWS shows in braille not only cell coordinates such as a1, a2 etc., but can also display the entire cell contents, or what is currently being typed into a cell.
  • Added support for the ARIA 1.1 features aria-posinset and aria-setsize on menu items in Firefox and on tab controls in Internet Explorer.
  • In Firefox, added support for the aria-errormessage, aria-rowindex, and aria-colindex ARIA 1.1 properties, as well as role="none" and the new "figure" role.
  • Added JAWS support for the ARIA 1.1 error message relation in Internet Explorer.
  • Addressed a reported issue with navigating to and activating tab controls on web pages in Firefox.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue where lists inside of a Navigation region on certain web pages were not being displayed correctly in Firefox.
  • Addressed an issue with the "new tab page" message being announced at inappropriate times. This message should now only be heard when a browser tab opens or closes.
  • In Internet Explorer, addressed an issue where JAWS was not reading labels for clickable elements.
  • Resolved reported issues encountered by some users when completing the JAWS Certification Exam.
  • Resolved issues with JAWS reporting the incorrect state of check boxes when the Display Settings (DPI) was set higher than 100 percent which is often the case on touch screen laptops and tablets.
  • When selecting text in a multiline edit field in Google Chrome, resolved an issue where the selected text was not being indicated in braille.
  • Addressed issues with form fields that use the aria-labelledby attribute not being seen by JAWS in Internet Explorer the same as they are in Firefox.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS was not correctly announcing links that contain the aria-describedby attribute in Internet Explorer.
  • In Internet Explorer, resolved reported issues where check boxes and links were not working as expected inside of a div element using an ARIA role of "grid". In addition, pressing INSERT+CTRL+B for a list of buttons on the page now works as expected inside an ARIA grid.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: If I download the JAWS 18 release from the web, should I install JAWS from the DVD when I receive it?

Answer: No. However, you should check for updates by pressing ALT+H from the JAWS program window, and then pressing P to select Check for Updates.

Question: If I wait until my DVD arrives to install JAWS 18, should I also download the version that is available on the web?

Answer: No, but once you have installed JAWS 18 from the DVD, you should check for updates by pressing ALT+H from the JAWS program window, and then pressing P to select Check for Updates.

Question: Should I remove my existing version of JAWS before installing JAWS 18?

Answer: This is not necessary and many users choose to keep multiple versions on their system. Once you find that you are no longer using the prior version, and everything is working well with the new version, you may uninstall the old version but do not remove shared components.

Question: If I recently received JAWS 17, how do I get JAWS 18?

Answer: If you purchased JAWS 17 after September 1, 2016, you can download the JAWS 18 release for free from the Freedom Scientific web site. To verify if you are entitled to the current version, visit the SMA and Upgrade Pricing page and enter your serial number.

Question: If my SMA expires, will I receive a notice?

Answer: Customers in the U.S. will receive notification in the mail shortly after the JAWS 18 DVD arrives. The envelope will have a Braille label on the outside, and it will contain an SMA Renewal letter explaining the process in print and Braille. You can also renew your SMA online using the SMA and Upgrade Pricing page on the Freedom Scientific web site.

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