Introduction to Browsing the Web

Web browsers are programs that allow you to access web pages on the Internet, read HTML (hypertext markup language) documents on your computer, or view your local intranet site. These browsers don't just display information. They also help you find information using search engines, purchase products online using various online shopping sites, interact with other people using social media services, use web-based editing applications to create documents, and much more.

JAWS works best with the latest versions of Google Chrome™, Mozilla® Firefox®, and Internet Explorer 11®. JAWS provides the same powerful features for each supported browser, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs. The Microsoft┬« Edge┬« browser also provides a certain level of support, but there are some features such as PlaceMarkers and some Navigation Quick Keys that are still not supported. A newer, Chromium-based version of Edge is slated to appear in 2020 and it is expected to be a much better solution for users. JAWS will alert you if you try to use a feature that is not available.

When browsing the web, JAWS gives you quick access to the information you need, and provides detailed information about the structure and organization of web pages. Tables, lists, headings, and alternate text for images are all announced. The information comes right from the HTML used to create the page. HTML is designed with accessibility in mind, and JAWS supports more of the built-in HTML accessibility features than any other screen reader.

JAWS uses the Virtual Cursor on web pages, letting you read as you would in a word processing document. The Virtual Cursor is also available in other applications, such as HTML based help systems, HTML based e-mails in Outlook, and in PDF (Portable Document Format) files. Many of the features discussed within these topics are also available wherever the Virtual Cursor is used.

When you open the browser, your home page opens. If you don't have a home page specified, you can select a web page from your Favorites menu, or press ALT+D to move to the Address Bar and type in the address of a page. Once a page is selected, it is loaded and JAWS announces the page title along with the number of links, headings, and regions. Then, JAWS begins reading the text on the screen from top to bottom. To move through the page, use UP and DOWN ARROW, PAGE UP, and PAGE DOWN as you would in a word processing document. The JAWS commands to Read By Word, Line, Sentence, and Paragraph work normally.

If you are using Fusion, JAWS will not automatically begin reading the page after announcing the title followed by the number of elements. This prevents focus from being bumped back up to the top of the page if you are a low vision user attempting to navigate with the mouse. To change this setting, open JAWS Settings Center and select "Document and Web Pages Automatically Read."

As you navigate a page, JAWS says, "link," when it encounters a link to another document or portion of the page. To follow a link, press ENTER while positioned on the link.

To go back to the previous page, press ALT+LEFT ARROW or BACKSPACE. To move forward one page after you have moved back, press ALT+RIGHT ARROW.