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Dealing with Difficult Pages

JAWS makes reading and using the Internet easy and fun. However, Web page authors must follow certain guidelines to make their pages accessible to JAWS and other screen reading software. JAWS reads most pages well, even if they are not designed with accessibility in mind. Occasionally, you may come across a page that is poorly designed or difficult to use with JAWS. In this section, you will learn some tricks for dealing with these difficult Web pages.

Reading Pages that Refresh Automatically

Some Web pages automatically refresh - or reload - after a certain period of time. Usually this is done to update information on the page in a timely fashion. When a page refreshes, JAWS moves you back to the beginning of the page. This can interrupt what you are doing. To see an example of a page like this, go to the refreshing version of the E-Stocks sample page and try to read through it. This version of the E-Stocks sample page is designed to refresh every twenty seconds so you can practice this lesson.

JAWS Tip: Notice that JAWS informs you how often this page reloads. You must be using Beginner verbosity to hear this message.

EXERCISE: Follow along with the steps below to make pages that automatically refresh easier to work with:

  1. Go to the refreshing version of the E-Stocks sample page.
  2. Press INSERT+V. Quick Settings opens with focus in the search edit box.
  3. Type page refresh in the search edit box. The tree view below the search edit box filters out all items that do not match the search phrase.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to Page Refresh for the virtual cursor options.
  5. Press the SPACEBAR to choose "Off."
  6. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR. Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved.
  7. Try reading through the refreshing version of the E-Stocks sample page again. The page still refreshes every 20 seconds, but you can read the text without being interrupted or returning to the top of the page.

NOTE: This method keeps the virtual PC cursor in the proper place on the page, but in doing this JAWS does not see the changes on the page. Press INSERT+ESC when you hear that the page has reloaded to perform a screen refresh for the JAWS virtual buffer. The virtual PC cursor will be in the same position and now you will also have the latest information in the virtual buffer.

Working with Improperly Tagged Images

Sometimes a Web page author does not assign alternate text, a title, or a long description to images on the page. JAWS ignores images like these because the program cannot provide you with any useful information. However, if the image is also a link, then JAWS announces the location (or file path) of the image. You can also view the destination URL of the image link.

JAWS Tip: You can also have JAWS announce images on the page with no descriptive text that aren't links. Alternatively, you can tell JAWS to ignore all images on the page. To do this, press INSERT+V to open Quick Settings. Look for "Graphics Show - Tagged" and choose "All" to hear all images on the page, or choose "None" if you don't want JAWS to announce any images.

The image below this paragraph is the Freedom Scientific corporate logo. It is also a link to the Freedom Scientific Web site. This image does not have any descriptive text. When you move to the image, JAWS reads the name of the file. Unfortunately, in this case the file name is also not descriptive.



EXERCISE: Follow the steps below to obtain some more information about this image:

  1. Press INSERT+V. The Quick Settings dialog box appears. Focus is in the search edit box.
  2. Type in untagged. Quick Settings filters out everything else that does not match the search term.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to move to "Untagged Graphical Links Show - Image Source" in the virtual cursor options.
  4. Press the SPACEBAR to choose "Untagged Graphical Links Show - URL."
  5. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR. Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved.
  6. Press G to make sure focus is back on the Freedom Scientific logo image link. Notice that JAWS now reads the destination of this graphic link, which is www.FreedomScientific.com.

NOTE: Be sure to follow the steps above and change this setting back to "Untagged Graphical Links Show - Image Source" when you are finished testing this.

Ignoring Flash Content

Some Web pages use a format called Flash to display animated, dynamic content. You can select Flash links, activate buttons, read information, and type within edit fields just like on most Web pages, provided the author created them with accessibility in mind. Flash animations are presented as part of the page, and JAWS announces when you enter and exit the animation.

Since Flash is a very graphical format, some pages that use Flash may have little or no useful text content that JAWS can read and use to tell you what is on the screen. There is a JAWS option that will help you work with these types of pages.

EXERCISE: The Freedom Scientific Web site contains several different types of flash. Follow the instructions below to investigate a flash movie of MAGic® screen magnification software from another part of the Freedom Scientific Web site:

  1. Open the MAGic screen magnification flash movie.
  2. Press CTRL+HOME to make sure the virtual cursor is at the top of the page.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to move through the flash movie and explore the different buttons.
  4. Feel free to experiment with the flash buttons by pressing ENTER on any of them.

NOTE: BE CAREFUL TO PROTECT YOUR EARS! The volume may change when playing different media types. Use caution and move the headset away from your ears before you begin playing any new type of audio/video files. To pause playback once the movie has started, find the play toggle button and press ENTER on it.

  1. Next, still in the MAGic flash page, open Quick Settings by pressing INSERT+V. Focus is in the search edit box.
  2. Type flash in the search edit box. Quick Settings filters out everything in the tree view below the search edit box that does not match the search criteria.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW until focus moves to the item Flash Movies Recognize - On in the virtual cursor options.
  4. Press SPACEBAR to turn this option off to ignore Flash content on Web pages.
  5. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR. Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved.
  6. Now try reading the TOPAZ flash movie again. What do you hear? Just the words "What is MAGic" and nothing else. This is the title of the Web page. The only thing on this Web page is the flash video and nothing else.

This demonstrates how valuable it is to have the ability to read accessible flash on the Web. When it is done properly, everyone should have access to it. You may set JAWS to ignore flash on the Web, but you might also miss important information by doing so.

NOTE: Be sure to use the steps above and set JAWS back to Flash Movies Recognize - On when you are finished.

Getting More Information about Links

Sometimes the text of a link will not be very descriptive. For example, a Web page may have a link called "Click here." To change how JAWS reads links on a Web page, do the following:

  1. Press INSERT+V. Quick Settings opens with focus in the search edit box.
  2. Type text links in the search edit box. Quick Settings filters out everything in the tree view below the search edit box except for items that match the search phrase.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to find "Text Links Show Using - Screen Text" in the virtual cursor options.
  4. Press the SPACEBAR to cycle through the available options. You find the following choices:
  5. For now, press ESC to get out of the Quick Settings dialog box.

The following is an example of a link with both screen text and a title attribute:

JAWS Training Headquarters

EXERCISE: Follow the instructions below to switch between the screen text and the title and notice how JAWS reads each:

  1. Press INSERT+V to open the Quick Settings dialog box.
  2. Type text links in the search edit box. Quick Settings filters out everything in the tree view below the search edit box except for items that match the search phrase.
  3. Press DOWN ARROW to find "Text Links Show Using - Screen Text" in the virtual cursor options.
  4. Press the SPACEBAR to cycle through the available options until you find Text Links Show Using - Title.
  5. Press TAB to move to the OK button, and then activate it with the SPACEBAR. Quick Settings closes and the changes are saved.
  6. Now re-read the link.
  7. Open the JAWS list of links with INSERT+F7 and notice the title now appears there as well.
  8. Press ESC to get out of the list of links when you are finished.

NOTE: Be sure to follow the steps above when you are finished and change JAWS back to Text Links Show Using - Screen Text in the virtual cursor options again.

EXERCISE: The next two links both have the same screen text, but contain a different title. Which of the two links pertains to learning more about the PAC Mate? Follow the instructions above to change JAWS from Text Links Show Using - Screen Text in the virtual cursor options to Text Links Show Using - Title. Open the JAWS list of links now using INSERT+F7 and find these two links. How do the links read in the list of links? When you are finished be sure to change JAWS back to the default setting, Text Links Show Using - Screen Text. Look again at the links with the JAWS list of links.

Learn More

Skipping Past Site Navigation

Many sites have site navigation elements, such as navigation bars or a long series of links, at the top of each page. These links are a useful way to help visitors get around the site. However, designs like this can make it difficult for users of screen readers to get to the content of each page on the site, since you have to read through all the links first.

TIP: Some sites may provide a link at the top of each page called "Skip to Main Content," "Skip Navigation," or something similar. You can use these links to move past the site navigation and get to the page content.

To skip past site navigation links, buttons, and other elements, use the navigation quick key N. Pressing N moves you to the next block of text that is not a link. Usually, pressing N a few times will take you right to the main content of the page.

Using the Information Bar in Internet Explorer 8 and Earlier

Internet Explorer may block some Web content. Most often this includes pop-up windows or active content. When Internet Explorer blocks content, you hear a sound, and a message appears on the information bar. The information bar is located below the address bar near the top of the screen and provides information about downloads, blocked pop-up windows, and other activities. This helps you avoid potentially harmful files that you might otherwise download from the Internet.

To move to and read the information bar, press ALT+N. You can then press the SPACEBAR to open the information bar menu so you can allow Internet Explorer to display the content. To hide the information bar and return to the page you were viewing, press ESC. The information bar also closes if you choose one of the menu items to perform an action.

Using the Notification Bar in Internet Explorer 9 and Later

The information bar is replaced by the notification bar in Internet Explorer 9 and later. It appears at the bottom of the screen. Press ALT+N to move to it. It has one or more buttons that you can move to by pressing TAB or SHIFT+TAB. It is possible to move out of the notification bar if you TAB too far. If you hear a close button, that is the last button on the notification bar. Focus moves to the address bar when you press TAB once more. Pressing SHIFT+TAB will return focus to the notification bar if you go too far, or you may also press ALT+N again. To hide the notification bar and return to the page you were viewing, press ESC. The notification bar also closes if you choose one of the available buttons to perform an action.

OnMouseOvers

Use the keystroke INSERT+CTRL+ENTER to explore OnMouseOver events whenever you stop on a link where JAWS reports one.

EXERCISE: Open the MouseOver page of the Surf's Up Web site and follow along with the instructions below.

Web page authors use OnMouseOvers to display text or images when a visitor moves the mouse pointer over a particular part of the page. On this sample page, when a user moves the mouse pointer over one of the product names, which are actually graphic links, the page displays a brief summary of the product. When the user clicks the graphic, the page takes them to the Freedom Scientific Web site to provide additional resources.

NOTE: Two different things happen here depending on whether you simply move the mouse cursor over the graphic or actually activate the link.

JAWS says, "OnMouseOver" when you move to an element with an OnMouseOver. OnMouseOver is an attribute that Web page authors add to HTML elements to enable OnMouseOver functionality.

Open the MouseOver page of the Surf's Up Web site sample page. Read through the page first. It is relatively short. Notice that after the first heading, there are four OnMouseOver links which JAWS identifies. Continue reading and you will hear a brief bit of text that begins "This page is designed to demonstrate the use of the OnMouseOver attribute. When a mouse user moves the pointer over the image links ..." Go ahead and read through this text. When you activate an OnMouseOver in the next series of steps, this text will change on the screen.

Activating an OnMouseOver with JAWS actually moves the mouse cursor over the graphic link for you. You do this by pressing INSERT+CTRL+ENTER when you hear JAWS announce OnMouseOver links. To see how JAWS interacts with OnMouseOvers on Web pages, do the following:

  1. Go to the MouseOver page of the Surf's Up Web site sample page and press DOWN ARROW until you move to the one of the graphic links with an OnMouseOver.
  2. Press INSERT+CTRL+ENTER to activate the OnMouseOver for that link.
  3. JAWS announces that the page has changed at a certain line. On the screen, the brief descriptive text that summarized how to use the page with a mouse is replaced by text that describes the product.
  4. Press J, type the line number JAWS spoke, and press ENTER. JAWS moves you directly to the place on the page where the new text is displayed. Using the Jump To Line command (J) in this manner allows you to read new information that appears on the page when you activate an OnMouseOver. Take a moment to read through the new text.
  5. Press SHIFT+J to move back to the graphic link. Holding down SHIFT when using the Jump To Line command moves you back to your previous location on the page.
  6. Press ENTER to activate the link. This takes you to the Freedom Scientific Web site. You can press BACKSPACE to return to the previous page.
  7. Try moving to the other OnMouseOver links and following these same steps for more practice.

JAWS Tip: Notice how pressing ENTER and pressing INSERT+CTRL+ENTER can produce very different results with some Web page elements. Pressing INSERT+CTRL+ENTER simply moves the mouse pointer over the element, while pressing ENTER actually clicks the element and moves you to the new page, or a different spot on the current page depending on the web page author's intent.