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Using Forms with JAWS and MAGic

HTML forms allow you to access shopping carts, search engines, Web-based e-mail, bulletin boards, and more. Forms include controls such as edit boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, combo boxes, and other controls similar to those used in dialog boxes.

JAWS and MAGic take advantage of the features of HTML used to create forms and allow you to access all kinds of form controls.

Moving Through Forms

The following is a list of JAWS navigation quick key commands that allow you to move quickly from one control to another. When running JAWS alone, or both JAWS and MAGic together, all commands listed below work. You can use the SHIFT key in combination with many of the keystrokes to move to the previous unit or element.


Description Command
Button B
Combo Box C
Edit Box E
Form Control (generic) F
Radio Button A
Check Box X
First Form Control on a Page INSERT+CTRL+HOME
Last Form Control on a Page INSERT+CTRL+END


NOTE: These commands do not work in forms mode.


You can also display lists of specific types of form controls. To do this, hold down INSERT+CTRL and press one of the navigation quick keys for moving through forms. For example, to view a list of all edit boxes on the page, press INSERT+CTRL+E.

To quickly locate a specific form control press INSERT+F5. This command lists all form controls and their contents on the current page. Move through the list and press ENTER to move to the selected control. Forms mode is automatically enabled so you are ready to make changes to the control. And if you have already entered information in a long form, use the Forms List to quickly review the information.


MAGic Tip: You can also use INSERT+F5 with MAGic to list all form controls and their contents on a page.


TIP: Forms mode is automatically turned off when you activate a button that submits a form.


EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and press INSERT+F5 to list all the form controls, and experience how easy it is to review the information. Try pressing ENTER from the list of form controls to go into forms mode and edit the form. Press NUM PAD PLUS, or click outside the form fields if you are using a mouse, to get out of forms mode.


Auto Forms Mode and Form Controls with JAWS 10

Have you ever noticed that with versions of JAWS prior to version 10, if you tried to enter something into a form you might end up somewhere else on the page? This happened if you did not switch to forms mode prior to trying to type in the information. As a result, the letters you were pressing were still functioning as navigation quick keys instead of typing information into the control.

Auto forms mode was introduced in JAWS 10. Now when you press TAB or SHIFT+TAB on a Web page and land in a form field or other form control, forms mode is automatically on. It is confirmed with a sound that is played. You no longer have to remember to switch forms mode on manually. Forms mode is also turned on automatically if you use the ARROW Keys and move into a form control such as an edit box. Again, a sound is played. Additionally, if someone clicks into an edit box with a MOUSE Click, forms mode comes on automatically.

Sounds Indicating Forms Mode On or Off

You hear one sound when JAWS enters forms mode and a slightly different sound when JAWS exits forms mode. These sounds can be changed to different sounds if you prefer. Here's how:

  1. In Internet Explorer, press INSERT+F2.
  2. Select Settings Center and press ENTER.
  3. Focus is in the Search edit box. Type in "select sound for" without the quotes. JAWS filters out all results that do not match the search in the tree view below.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to Select Sound for Entering Forms Mode in the filtered results of the tree view in Settings Center.
  5. Press SPACEBAR. A dialog box of sound choices opens.
  6. Press UP or DOWN ARROW to move through the list of sounds. JAWS has over 180 sounds included that you can choose from. You can also use first letter navigation.
  7. Press SPACEBAR or ALT+P to hear a sample of the sound.
  8. Press TAB to move to the OK button when you find a sound you want to use, and press SPACEBAR to activate it. Focus returns to the Settings Center tree view.
  9. Press DOWN ARROW to move to Select Sound for Leaving Forms Mode in the filtered results of the tree view in Settings Center.
  10. Press SPACEBAR. A dialog box of sound choices opens.
  11. Press SPACEBAR or ALT+P to hear a sample of the sound.
  12. Press TAB to move to the OK button and activate it with the SPACEBAR. The changes are made and saved. Settings Center closes.

Additionally, you can turn the sounds that indicate forms mode on or off by using the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box. Don't follow these instructions at the moment, since we'll be using the sounds for the exercises that follow. However, here is how to change it later if you need to:

  1. Press INSERT+V to open the Quick Settings dialog box. Focus is in the search edit box.
  2. Type in "use sound" without the quotes. JAWS filters out all results that do not match the search in the tree view below.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the item in the tree view "Use Sound - checked" in the Virtual Cursor Options.
  4. Press SPACEBAR to uncheck the check box.
  5. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR. Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved.

Auto forms mode was actually introduced previously in MAGic 11 with much of this same functionality. Auto forms mode works in applications such as Internet Explorer®, Adobe Reader®, and Firefox® Web browser.

When you exit the form control, either using the arrow keys, the tab key, or by clicking somewhere else outside of the form controls with a mouse, forms mode is turned off and you hear the sound indicating this. Forms mode is also automatically turned off when the form is submitted or the page refreshes. Alternatively, press NUM PAD PLUS at any time to get out of forms mode.

When you use JAWS or MAGic on the Internet, JAWS and MAGic use the virtual cursor, an invisible reading cursor, as the default cursor for reading information. When MAGic is running either alone or in conjunction with JAWS there is a visible reading highlight that surrounds the word or line where you are reading, which makes it easier to tell where the virtual cursor is. To complete a form on a Web page, you need to use the PC cursor, which is a visible blinking cursor.

NOTE: When using JAWS navigation quick keys, the default setting is for forms mode not to come on automatically. This can be changed in the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box accessed by pressing INSERT+V or in the JAWS Settings Center discussed earlier. Using navigation quick keys in forms is discussed in more detail later in this lesson.

Keyboard Navigation within Forms

Keyboard navigation within forms can be done in many different ways. Most people will use one or a combination of the following:

Using the Arrow Keys to Explore a Form

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below and use just the ARROW Keys to explore the form:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Let's explore how using the arrow keys works when a form control is encountered. Begin pressing DOWN ARROW one line at a time. Stop when you reach the first field label, First *. Just after the label for First * is an edit box.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW one time and listen. Did you hear JAWS announce "edit" and play a sound? The sound indicates that forms mode has come on automatically. JAWS announced that the cursor is now in the edit box. You could begin typing now and put your name here, but for now do not do that.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW again. Did you hear a different sound? Forms mode is now off again since the virtual cursor moved out of the edit box and back into the main part of the Web page.
  5. Continue to press DOWN ARROW to move through the fields for Middle and Last edit boxes. Notice that as you move into an edit box with an arrow key, forms mode comes on automatically and you hear the sound indicating this has happened. Also, as you move out of an edit field with an arrow key, forms mode goes off automatically, and again you hear the sound indicating this has happened.

Notice that as you use the arrow keys with JAWS, forms mode only comes on when you are in an edit box. Whenever an edit area is detected, JAWS allows you to begin typing immediately. Yet, at the same time, if focus is not in an edit area, reading mode stays on. This gives you the ability to quickly type information into edit boxes, and still gives you plenty of flexibility to move around the form.

TIP: Why is forms mode not turned on when buttons, check boxes, or other controls are encountered? The reason is because these controls can generally be activated without going into forms mode. For example, the SPACEBAR toggles the check mark on or off for check boxes. Pressing SPACEBAR also moves the selection of a radio button from one choice to another, and activates buttons such as the OK, Cancel, or Submit button. You don't have to switch to forms mode to do this.

NOTE: A newer way of navigating using the arrow keys called Semi-Auto forms mode was introduced in JAWS version 16 and is discussed later in this lesson.

Using the TAB Key to Explore a Form

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below and use only the TAB key to move through the form:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Press the navigation quick key F to move to the first field on the page, the First * edit box.
  3. Remember, forms mode does NOT come on automatically when using navigation quick keys. Press ENTER to go into forms mode.
  4. Go ahead and type your first name here if you have not already done so. Did you hear JAWS announce that this is a required field? Often, web page developers use the asterisk, *, to indicate required fields. The asterisk can be seen by sighted individuals and you can hear it with JAWS when reading through the form with the arrow keys. The text that JAWS spoke, First Name, this is a required field, is delivered by an ARIA attribute called aria-label. In this case the aria-label gives information that is not visible on the screen such as the word, "Name" and the phrase, "This is a required field." ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications, and is a technical specification for increasing the accessibility of Web pages.
  5. Press TAB to move the next edit field, Middle. Did you hear JAWS announce, "Middle initial?" In this case the Web page author used a different HTML attribute, the title attribute, to give you the extra information. The word "initial" is not visible on the screen. It is, however, shown as a visible tool tip to people who hover a mouse over the field.
  6. Press TAB again to move to the Last * field. Again, you should hear JAWS announce, "Last name. This is a required field," as a result of the aria-label attribute.

As you continue to press TAB or SHIFT+TAB notice that as long as you are in an edit box, forms mode is turned on automatically. When the cursor moves out of an edit box, forms mode goes off automatically, and you hear the sound indicating this has happened.

Forms that Automatically Advance to the Next Field

Web page authors may sometimes create form fields that move the PC cursor to the next form field automatically. This can make a long day of filling out forms a lot easier! These types of form controls that automatically move the cursor to the next field are typically seen in fields that have a fixed number of characters, such as phone number fields and social security number fields. As soon as the final character is input, the form moves the cursor immediately to the next field or control.

EXERCISE: Follow along and experience how some form fields can advance the cursor to the next field automatically when the first field is complete:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Press TAB several times to move to the Area Code edit box. This is the first of three telephone number edit boxes.
  3. In this first one, type in three numbers. The focus automatically moves to the next field.
  4. In the second phone number field, the Exchange edit box, type in another three numbers. The focus automatically moves to the next field, the four digit phone number edit box.
  5. In the Number edit box, type in four numbers. Notice that the focus automatically moves to the next field, the e-mail address field.

NOTE: The New WebTrack sample form used in Surf's Up does not collect or send any data. It is just a practice page.

You will occasionally come across similar types of auto-advance edit fields as you interact with forms on the Web.

AutoComplete Settings in Internet Explorer

In Internet Explorer you may be asked if you want to turn on the AutoComplete Settings to help you remember things you type. This can happen when typing in edit boxes for Web page addresses, search inquiries, and more. Once this option is turned on, as you type, a list forms near the edit field containing a match of any words beginning with the letters you type. You can then choose a word or phrase from the list and press TAB to move to the next form control without having to retype the whole word or phrase.

If you choose to keep the AutoComplete Settings on in Internet Explorer, when you press DOWN ARROW to move out of an edit box you may find that the focus goes into a list of items that you have typed at some point in the past. Instead of moving on through the form, now the cursor is moving up and down a list of choices. This is designed to make it easier for you when filling out forms. It keeps you from having to retype a lot of information. However, it makes it hard to get past the edit box. To get out of such an edit box list of choices, perform the following two steps:

  1. First, press ESC to close the list.
  2. Then press NUM PAD PLUS to turn forms mode off again.

Now you can continue to use the arrow keys to explore and read through the form.

EXERCISE: Follow along with the instructor as this is demonstrated on the Freedom Scientific Web site.

  1. Go to the Freedom Scientific Web site, http://www.FreedomScientific.com.
  2. Start from the top of the page by pressing CTRL+HOME.
  3. Press TAB until you find the Search edit box. You should hear a sound indicating that forms mode is on. If not, press ENTER to go into forms mode.
  4. Begin typing some text, perhaps the word JAWS. Now, press DOWN ARROW to see if you find a list of items containing the word JAWS. On my computer I find the following, because I have done searches of our Web site before:

NOTE: If you have AutoComplete settings in Internet Explorer for Forms turned off you will not see a list. Turning on or off the AutoComplete settings feature of Internet Explorer is covered in the next section.

  1. Next, choose one of the items in the list. Just press TAB once you find it in the list. The list closes and the search edit box is populated with that item. Focus moves to the Go button.
  2. Press SHIFT+TAB to move back to the search edit box to verify that the item you chose in the list is there now.
  3. Let's delete this item from the list. When you pressed SHIFT+TAB to move back to the search edit box, the word or phrase that was there becomes highlighted, or selected. Just press the DEL key. The word or phrase is now gone.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW again to begin moving through the AutoComplete list.
  5. Now, let us say that you do not want to populate the search edit box and wish to leave it empty. Press ESC to close the list.
  6. Next, press NUM PAD PLUS to get out of forms mode.
  7. Now press DOWN ARROW. Focus should move to the Go button. Now you can continue reading the page with the arrow keys.
  8. When you are finished practicing with the Freedom Scientific Web page, press CTRL+F4 to close it.

Turning Off (or On) the AutoComplete Settings in Internet Explorer

If you want to turn this Internet Explorer option on or off, here's how:

  1. Press ALT+T to open the Tools menu in Internet Explorer.
  2. Press O to open the Internet Options dialog box.
  3. Press CTRL+TAB to move to the Content page.
  4. Press ALT+I to activate the AutoComplete Settings button. The AutoComplete Settings dialog box opens.
  5. Press TAB to move to the check boxes below and check or uncheck them, depending on your preferences:
  6. Forms: User names and passwords on forms.
  7. Address Bar: Browsing history, favorites, feeds, use Windows search for better results, and suggesting URLs.
  8. Press ENTER to close the AutoComplete Settings dialog box. Focus returns to the Internet Options dialog box.
  9. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and activate it with the SPACEBAR.

Navigation Quick Keys in Forms with Auto Forms Mode off (Default Setting)

When using navigation quick keys in forms, forms mode does not turn on automatically. This is great because it gives you the ability to move quickly from one part of a form to another without having to worry about forms mode coming on.

For example, let's say you have an e-mail program which is Web based. Often there will be a check box in front of each new item in the Inbox. You can quickly move to a check box by pressing the letter X and then read the subject line of that message. However, you may not want to go into forms mode because you want to move to a Reply button. If forms mode came on when you moved to the check box you would have to turn off forms mode before you could use the navigation quick key B to move to the Reply button.

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below to experiment with navigation quick keys:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Press the navigation quick key B several times to explore what buttons are available in this form. You should find a total of five different buttons. This is a nice way to find out if there is a Submit button or a Send button, for example.
  3. Press the navigation quick key A to explore the radio buttons in the form.
  4. Next, press the navigation quick key X to explore the check boxes in the form. The check boxes are located near the bottom of this form.
  5. Let's say you have explored the form and now want to move back to the edit box for the first name, which is located near the top of the form. Just press the navigation quick key E and focus wraps back to the top of the page where the first name edit box is located.

You can tell from this example how nice it is to be able to use navigation quick keys to explore a form without having forms mode come on. It is also great to be able to move directly and efficiently to certain controls within a form.

NOTE: The default setting for JAWS is to NOT go into forms mode when using navigation quick keys. However, this can be changed. Read the next section to find out how.

Navigation Quick Keys in Forms with Auto Forms Mode On

If you use forms a lot, you may want to have forms mode come on when using navigation quick keys. You can change JAWS to have forms mode come on if you are using navigation quick keys, and pause for a given number of seconds on a control.

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below to experiment with navigation quick keys set to turn on forms mode after pausing for several seconds on a control:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Open the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box by pressing INSERT+V. Focus is in the search edit box.
  3. Type in "delay" without the quotes. JAWS filters out all results that do not match the search in the tree view below.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the item "Navigation Quick Key Delay - Never" in the Virtual Cursor Options.
  5. Press SPACEBAR to change this to three seconds.
  6. Next, press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR. JAWS Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved.

Now when using auto forms mode, and navigating with navigation quick keys, JAWS will toggle Forms Mode on after three seconds if you remain on that control. This only happens when the control is an edit box, list, or a combo box. Do you remember why forms mode does not come on for check boxes or buttons? It is because their state can be changed or activated by using the SPACEBAR.

  1. Now, press the navigation quick key E to move through the edit boxes of the form. Make sure to press it within less than three seconds to confirm that you can still navigate without going into forms mode. If you need to change the delay to a little longer, you can adjust the time in the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box up to a maximum of five seconds.
  2. Next, press the navigation quick key E again until you find the first name edit box. This time, wait for three seconds. Did you hear the sound indicating that forms mode is now on after the delay?
  3. Press NUM PAD PLUS to get out of forms mode for now. You hear the sound indicating that forms mode is now off.

You can see how this could be handy for people who fill out forms a lot! For now, go ahead and change the settings back to Navigation Quick Key Delay - Never using the instructions given in steps one through six above.

TIP: If you go to a particular domain, such as an Intranet or a group of Web pages such as Microsoft.com or FreedomScientific.com where you want this to happen all the time you can use Personalized Settings for JAWS to turn forms mode on when using navigation quick keys every time you visit that site. Personalized Settings can be found in the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box below the section for Virtual Cursor Options.

Check Boxes and Radio Buttons

To quickly select a check box or radio button on a form, press NUM PAD SLASH when the virtual cursor is on the item. If the selected control is a check box, the state of the check box is toggled. If the control is a radio button that is not selected, this command selects the radio button. JAWS does not switch to forms mode, so you can easily continue reading the page. You can also use SPACEBAR to toggle the state of a check box or select a radio button without going into forms mode.

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below to experiment with check boxes and radio buttons:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Press the navigation quick key A to move to the first group of radio buttons. You hear, "Product(s) in Warranty, Yes radio button checked, one of two."
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the second radio button. You hear, "radio button not checked."
  4. Press either the keyboard command for the left mouse button, NUM PAD SLASH, or the SPACEBAR to move the check mark from the first radio button to the second one. If you are using a mouse, just click the second radio button.
  5. Press UP ARROW to move back to the first radio button and verify it is not checked.
  6. Press DOWN ARROW to move back to the second radio button and verify it is checked.

Notice that throughout the above process, forms mode was never turned on. You used the navigation quick key A for radio buttons to move the virtual cursor to a radio button, and changed the check mark without getting into forms mode.

Combo Boxes

When reading with the arrow keys, if the virtual cursor moves to a combo box forms mode is not automatically turned on. (NOTE: Forms mode may come on even when navigating with the virtual cursor if AutoComplete settings are used in that control.) To change the selection, press ALT+DOWN ARROW to open the list of choices. Forms mode comes on. Then, use the ARROW Keys to select an item. Press ALT+UP ARROW to close the list of choices. The item is now selected in the combo box and forms mode goes off again. Then press TAB to move to the next control. (Or use the ARROW KEYS to continue reading.)

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below to experiment with combo boxes:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Press C to move to the combo box for Action Taken.
  3. Press UP ARROW to move to the form label, which is to the left of the combo box visually, but on the line above the combo box in the virtual world. You should hear JAWS say "action taken."
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move back to the combo box.
  5. Press DOWN ARROW again to move below the combo box.

Notice that all this time, forms mode has not come on. You are still reading with the virtual cursor.

  1. Press UP ARROW to move back up to the combo box.
  2. Press ENTER to go into forms mode. Did you hear the sound indicating that JAWS is now in forms mode? At this point press the ARROW Keys and explore the choices available in the list of items within the combo box.

NOTE: Going into a combo box using this method causes only the selected item in the list to be visible within the combo box. Visually, the rest of the list of choices cannot be seen.

  1. Press NUM PAD PLUS to get out of forms mode.
  2. Now, try doing it a different way. Still with the virtual cursor on the combo box, press ALT+DOWN ARROW. Did you hear forms mode come on again? Now the list of items in the combo box has been opened so that all items are shown visually. Use the ARROW Keys again to move up and down the list to select a choice.
  3. When you have made a selection you want to keep, press ALT+UP ARROW. This action does two things. First, it closes the list with the item you had chosen in the list now visible as the selected choice in the combo box. It also turns forms mode off. Again, you hear the sound indicating that forms mode is off.

Spend a few minutes on this combo box practicing the two methods discussed to get into and out of forms mode, and make a selection from the list of available items. When you are finished, make sure that forms mode is off by pressing NUM PAD PLUS.

Multiple Selection List Boxes

A variation of a combo box, a multiple selection list box, sometimes called an extended selection list box, can be thought of as a combo box that allows multiple selections. In the combo box example above, only one item can be chosen in the list of values. In a multiple selection list box, more than one item can be chosen in the list of values at one time.

If you use a mouse, you can hold down the CTRL key and click any number of items in a multiple selection list. Keyboard users can press the Internet Explorer keystroke SHIFT+F8 to turn on extended selection mode. While this mode is on, move up or down the list of choices and press SPACEBAR to select as many items as desired. To unselect a previously selected item, press SPACEBAR again on the item.

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form. Spend a few minutes practicing how to select more than one item at a time in the multiple selection list box on the New WebTrack form.

  1. First, press CTRL+HOME to move to the top of the form.
  2. Press the navigation quick key C to move to the multiple selection list box labeled Ordered Products. Notice that forms mode did not come on. That is expected behavior. If you did want to go into forms mode at this point, you could press ENTER, but don't do that right now.
  3. Did you hear JAWS make an announcement "INSERT+F1 Help?" This control has context sensitive help placed there by the Web page author to give you more information. Press INSERT+F1 now to find out what this context help says. The virtual viewer opens with help text explaining how to turn on multiple selection mode in Internet Explorer. When you are finished reading this text, press ESC to close the virtual viewer. Focus returns to the Ordered Products multiple selection list box in the New WebTrack sample form.
  4. Press UP ARROW to move out of the list box and read the label, Ordered Products. It is above the list box.
  5. Press DOWN ARROW to move back down to the list box.
  6. Press DOWN ARROW again to move one line below the list box. You should hear label for the next item, Product(s) in Warranty:

Notice that you did not go into forms mode by just reading the form with the virtual cursor and the arrow keys.

  1. Now, press CTRL+HOME to move back to the top of the form.
  2. Press TAB to move through the form. Notice that as you come to a combo box or the list box, forms mode comes on automatically and you hear the sound indicating this has happened. When you press TAB going forward from the list box, forms mode goes off automatically when you reach the Products in Warranty radio buttons. Again, JAWS informs you that forms mode is off by playing a sound.
  3. Go back to the Ordered Products multiple selection list box using the TAB or SHIFT+TAB key. Forms mode is on when focus moves there with the TAB key. At this point, if you just press the ARROW Keys to move up and down the list, only one item is selected. If you press TAB to move out of the control, the last item highlighted in the list will be the only one selected. For now, stay in the list box and move on to the next step.
  4. Press SHIFT+F8 to turn on extended select mode. Nothing is spoken, but as you begin moving up and down the list you should hear JAWS announce any unselected items. This is your indication that extended select mode is on.
  5. Press SPACEBAR to select any item.
  6. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the next item below the one you selected. Did you hear JAWS announce the item is not selected?
  7. Press DOWN ARROW again. Did you hear JAWS announce that this item also is not selected?
  8. Press SPACEBAR to select a second item.
  9. Continue to select or unselect as many items in the list as you wish by using the SPACEBAR. You can move up and down the list with the ARROW Keys to verify which ones are selected.
  10. When you are finished making selections, press TAB to move out of the multiple selection list box to the group of radio buttons for Products in Warranty. Forms mode goes off and a sound is played to indicate this. However, the items you selected are still highlighted in the multiple selection list box.

NOTE: You can also press NUM PAD PLUS or CLICK with a mouse elsewhere in the page outside of a form control to exit forms mode when in a multiple selection list box.

Semi-Auto Forms Mode

Some options for forms mode can be changed. For example, you might prefer to use the classic forms mode (forms mode off) instead of auto forms mode. Or you may want to use the new Semi-Auto forms mode introduced in JAWS 16. Let us take a look at the Semi-Auto forms mode using JAWS Quick Settings.

Using JAWS Quick Settings

You can make some adjustments to forms mode by using the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box. JAWS automatically saves the changes you make until you change them again.

EXERCISE: Open the New WebTrack Sample Form and follow along with the instructions below and explore some of the items you can change in the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box:

  1. First, make sure the cursor is at the top of the page. Press CTRL+HOME.
  2. Press INSERT+V to open the JAWS Quick Settings dialog box. Focus is in the search edit box.
  3. Type in "auto" without the quotes. JAWS filters out all results that do not match the search in the tree view below.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the choice that reads "Auto Forms Mode - Auto" in the Virtual Cursor Options. There are three options here, Auto, Semi-auto, and Manual.
  5. Press SPACEBAR to change this to Semi-auto.
  6. Next, press TAB to move to the OK button, and then press SPACEBAR to activate it. Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved. Focus returns to the New WebTrack sample page.
  7. Press DOWN ARROW to move through the controls on the page. The virtual cursor finds the label, First *.
  8. Press DOWN ARROW to move to the edit box. Notice that forms mode has not come on automatically.
  9. Continue to press DOWN ARROW to move through the controls on the page. The virtual cursor reads the label first and then the edit box second for each control. Notice that you do not hear the different sounds indicating forms mode is on, then off, and then on again constantly as you arrow through the form. This is great for people who have to use forms all day long and who have been listening to the different sounds as JAWS goes into and out of forms mode. Much less of a distraction!
  10. When you do come across an edit box that you need to enter text in, just press ENTER to go into forms mode.
  11. Press NUM PAD PLUS to get out of forms mode when you are finished.

We think once you get accustomed to using semi-auto forms mode you will like it very much. Go ahead and follow the instructions above if you wish to switch auto forms mode back on again. When you find the selection that says "Auto Forms Mode - Semi-Auto" just press SPACEBAR to change it back to "Auto" again. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR.

Form Control Prompts

HTML allows the author of a Web page to specifically associate text prompts (or labels) with form controls. JAWS recognizes when a prompt is specifically associated with a control, and speaks the correct prompt when you move to that control. If no prompt is specifically associated with a control, JAWS attempts to identify text positioned near the control as the prompt. This is most accurate when the text is directly to the left or above the form control.

PDF Form

EXERCISE: Open the attached PDF sample form and try it using the techniques you have learned. JAWS handles PDF forms the same way as HTML forms.

List of Virtual HTML Features

Take a minute to look at and use the JAWS List of Virtual HTML Features, INSERT+F3. This is a handy way to generate lists of many items found in the virtual environment.