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Teaching JAWS in 30 Minutes or Less

The following instructions are designed to teach how to use JAWS for Windows to a beginning user. The purpose of this training is to enable the user to become familiar with the basic commands for accessing and navigating the Windows operating system, word processing, e-mail and the Internet. This is an introduction to these tasks using JAWS and is not designed to provide all of the possible commands, functions and features.

Configuring the Computer for JAWS

Before you can begin to teach or use JAWS for Windows screen reading software, make the following changes to the computer configuration to improve access. The instructions will work on Windows XP, Vista and 7 systems.

  1. Open the Control Panel, located on the Start Menu. You may need to open the sub-menu for Settings to access the Control Panel. Press the Windows key to open the Start menu and then use the Up/Down Arrow keys to navigate the menu. Once you locate the Control Panel, press Enter or click to open the window.
  2. In the Control Panel window, open the View menu (Alt+v). Select the List option (l). A checkmark will appear before the menu item indicating that this View is selected.
  3. Open the Tools menu (Alt+t) and select Folder Options (o).
  4. In the Folder Options dialog box, select the General page tab (press Control+Tab to switch between page tabs).
  5. Tab to the Tasks option and select the radio button for Use Windows Classic folders (2 of 2). Use Up/Down Arrow keys to move between and select the radio buttons.
  6. Tab to the Apply button and press Enter or click on the button.
  7. Select the View page tab (Control+Tab).
  8. Select the Folder Views Apply to All Folders button (Alt+l). A message box will display asking if you want to change all the folders on the computer to match the current folders view setting. Select the Yes button (Alt+y).
  9. Tab to and select the OK button.
  10. Close the Control Panel window (Alt+F4).

Setting Up JAWS for Windows

Following are instructions for making some basic changes to JAWS. In most cases, the default settings will work find for a beginning user.

  1. Open the JAWS window (Insert+j).
  2. Open the Options menu (Alt+o).
  3. Select Basics (b).
  4. In the Basics Settings dialog box, you can set JAWS to load automatically, run JAWS from System Tray and select the keyboard layout. Make certain the appropriate settings are selected for each option depending on the user and situation. Select or Tab to and press Enter on the OK button.

Changing JAWS Speech Settings

The following instructions focus on how to modify the Global JAWS voice settings. Changes will affect the way JAWS "talks" overall and with every program and task.

  1. Open the JAWS window (Insert+j)
  2. Open the Options menu (Alt+o).
  3. Select the Voices menu item (v) and open the sub-menu.
  4. Select the Global Adjustment (g) option.
  5. In the Global Voices dialog box, select the radio button to Modify Default. Tab to the Voice Rate: option. This is a horizontal slider bar.
  6. Click or press the Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease the rate JAWS speaks.
  7. Tab to Voice Punctuation and select the amount of punctuation you want JAWS to announce from the drop down combo box (Up and Down Arrow keys to move through the combo box options).
  8. Tab to and select or press Enter on the OK button.

To quickly change the JAWS rate "on the fly", press Control+Alt+Page Up (faster) or Control+Alt+Page Down (slower). This will increase or decrease the JAWS rate for that session but will default to the standard rate when you move away from the program or task.

Learning the Keyboard

The foundation for learning and using the computer and JAWS is familiarity and comfort with the computer keyboard. For beginning users, consider completing training on how to use the computer keyboard such as the following course from Hadley School for the Blind:

"Typing and Keyboarding"

This course enables you to type efficiently on a typewriter or computer keyboard. It focuses on the basic keys that appear on most typewriters and computer keyboards. This course also explains how to format lists, announcements, and letters.

COURSE ID: KEY-101, MEDIA: B, LP, DTB or DTB-DL, LESSONS: 8

JAWS Keyboard Help Mode

Turn on the JAWS keyboard help mode to assist in familiarization with the keyboard and computer keys. In this mode, JAWS will announce each key as it is pressed and the key's function. The command to turn JAWS keyboard help mode on is Insert+1. Pressing Insert+1 again turns the mode off.

Navigating Windows

Following are standard commands for navigating in the Windows operating environment and working in Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Alt+Tab cycle through currently open programs and windows
Alt Access an application menu bar such as File or Edit menu
F1 Windows help
Alt+F4 Exit/close a window. From the Desktop, shut down the computer.
Applications key or Shift+F10 Displays a context menu for the selected item.
Alt+Enter Displays the properties dialog box

Following are JAWS commands for standard Windows tasks:
Insert+F12 Announce the current time
Insert+F12 twice Announce the current date
Insert+F11 Display the System Tray. Use Up/Down Arrow keys to navigate the System Tray items and Enter to open the item or sub-menu.
Insert+F10 Display a list of currently open programs and windows. Arrow through the items and press Enter to activate.
Insert+t Current active window title
Insert+b Read the entire contents of the current window, dialog or message box.
Insert+j Display the JAWS window
Insert+F4 Unload JAWS, press Escape to Cancel or Enter to unload JAWS

The Desktop

Windows key+M Minimize all open programs and place focus on the Desktop.
Tab Cycles between the taskbar, start button, and desktop,
press Windows+m , and then press TAB to cycle between the three.

Once focus is on the Desktop, use the Arrow keys to move between the Desktop icons or press the first letter of the icon. For example, pressing the letter m will cycle through all of the icons that start with the letter m.

The Start Menu

Windows key or Control+Escape Open the Start menu, Escape to close

Use the Up/Down Arrow keys to navigate the Start menu or press the corresponding accelerator key for the specific item. For example, press the letter r to open the Run dialog box or the letter u to open the Shut Down Windows dialog box. Once on a menu item, press Enter to open the activate or open the sub-menu.

The Task Bar

From the Desktop, press Tab twice to access the Task Bar (not available in Windows 7). To navigate the Task Bar items and currently running programs, use the Left/Right Arrow keys. Press Enter to activate the item or maximize the program.

Word Processing

Since every Windows computer has WordPad built-in to the operating system the following instructions use WordPad as the word processing program. However, all of the commands and instructions can be used in Microsoft Word.

To access WordPad, go to the Start menu (Windows key or Control+Escape) and select All Programs (p) to open the sub-menu. In the All Programs menu, select Accessories (a), open the sub-menu and select WordPad (w).

Standard Microsoft Keyboard Commands
Control+n Create a new document
Control+o Open an existing document
Control+s Save a document
Control+p Print a document
Control+z Undo the last edit command
Control+y Repeat the last edit command
Control+x Cut the selected text to the clipboard
Control+c Copy the selected text to the clipboard
Control+v Paste text from the clipboard into a document
Control+f Find specific words or phrases
Control+h Find and replace specific words or phrases
Control+g Go to a specific line paragraph or page*
Control+e Center text
Control+l Left justify text
Control+r Right justify text
Control+j Justify text
Control+Shift+p Change the point size of the font*
Control+Shift+f Change the font face*
Control+Delete Delete the current word
Control+Backspace Delete the previous word
Control+b Bold text*
Control+I Italicize text*
Control+u Underline text*
F7 Check spelling or grammar*
F12 Save As or rename a file*

*Available only in Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Text Navigation Commands
Left Arrow Move One Character Left
Right Arrow Move One Character Right
Control+Left Arrow Move One Word Left
Control+Right Arrow Move One Word Right
Home Move to Beginning of Line
End Move to End of Line
Alt+Down Arrow Move to Next Sentence
Alt+Up Arrow Move to previous sentence
Control+Up Arrow Move One Paragraph Up
Control+Down Arrow Move One Paragraph Down
Control+Page Down Move to Top of Next Page
Control+Page Up Move to Top of Previous Page
Control+Home Move to Beginning of Document
Control+End Move to End of Document
Page Up or Page Down Scroll Up or Down One Screen

Microsoft Text Selection Commands
Shift+Left Arrow Select One Character Left
Shift+Right Arrow Select One Character Right
Control+Shift+Left Arrow Select One Word Left
Control+Shift+Right Arrow Select One Word Right
Shift+Home Select to Beginning of Line
Shift+End Select to End of Line
Control+Shift+Home Select to Beginning of Document
Control+Shift+End Select to End of Document
Control+a Select All

JAWS Reading Commands
Note: the following commands are for a desktop keyboard configuration. Please see the JAWS Help menu for laptop commands.

NumPad 5 Read current character
NumPad 5 twice Read current Character Phonetically
Insert+Left Arrow Read previous Word
Insert+Right Arrow Read next word
Insert+NumPad 5 Read Current word
Insert+NumPad 5 twice Spell current word
Insert+Up Arrow Read current Line
Insert+Up Arrow twice Spell Current Line
Alt+NumPad 5 Read Current Sentence
Insert+Home Read to Cursor
Insert+Page Up Read from Cursor
Insert+Home twice Spell to Cursor
Insert+Page Up twice Spell from Cursor
Insert+Down Arrow Read All
Right Arrow Fast Forward during a Read All
Left Arrow Rewind during a Read All
Insert+Shift+Down Arrow Read selected text
Insert+Shift+Down Arrow twice Spell selected text

Using E-Mail

Following are instructions and keyboard commands for basic e-mail functions using the e-mail component of Outlook. These instructions can be used with Outlook 2007, 2003 and Outlook Express.

Microsoft Outlook Commands
Control+period or Down Arrow Move to the next item
Control+comma or Up Arrow Move to the previous item
Enter Open e-mail message
Control+n Create a new e-mail message
Control+r Reply to an e-mail message
Control+f Forward e-mail message
Control+Shift+r Reply to All
Alt+s Send e-mail message
Control+p Print e-mail message
Control+s Save e-mail message
Delete Delete e-mail message from In Box
F9 or Control+m Send and receive e-mail messages
Control+Shift+b Open Address Book

JAWS Keyboard Commands
ALT+GRAVE Move cursor to body text window
Insert+a or Shift+tab from the message body Move to Attachments list. (Use Control+Left/Right Arrow keys to move between multiple attachments).
Alt+1 Read From: field
Alt+2 Read Date Field
Alt+3 Read To: field
Alt+4 Read CC: field
Alt+5 Read Subject field
Alt+Shift+9 Select Address button in Contacts
Alt+Shift+4 Select CC: button
Alt+Shift+3 Select TO button
Insert+F7 Read Misspelled Word and Suggestion
Control+Insert+d Say Date

Surfing Internet Explorer

Following are basic keyboard commands for accessing and navigating web sites using Internet Explorer:

Internet Explorer Keyboard Commands
Tab Move forward to the next link or control
Shift+Tab Move backwards to the previous Link or control
Enter Activate a link
Alt+Left Arrow Move back to the previous page
Alt+Right Arrow Move forward to the next page
Alt+d Move focus to the Address Bar
Control+o Open a web site location
Control+p Print
Alt+a, a Add web site to Favorites

All standard text navigation and selection commands can be used on web sites. See commands listed under the Word Processing section for a complete list of these commands. For example, Control+Home moves to the top of the web page.

General JAWS Commands
Insert+F7 List the links on the page
Insert+F5 List the form fields
Insert+F6 List the headings
Insert+F9 List the frames

JAWS Navigation Commands
A Next Anchor
B Next Button
C Next ComboBox
D Next different element
E Next Edit
F Next Form Field
G Next Graphic
H Next Heading
I Next List Item
L Next List
M Next Frame
N Skip past links
O Next Object
P Next Paragraph
Q Next Block Quote
R Next RadioButton
S Next Same Element
T Next Table
U Next unvisited link
V Next visited link
X Next Checkbox
Add SHIFT to these commands to move to the prior item.

Add Control+Insert to the applicable quick keys to bring up a list of that element. For example, Control+Insert+z will bring up a list of the divisions on the page.

JAWS Table Commands
Windows key+Down Arrow Next row
Windows key+Up Arrow Prior row
Windows key+comma Read Row
Windows key+Right Arrow Next column
Windows key+Left Arrow Prior column
Windows key+period Read Column
Alt+Control+Right Arrow Next cell in a row
Alt+Control+Left Arrow Prior cell in a row
Alt+Control+Down Arrow Cell below in a column
Alt+Control+Up Arrow Cell above in a column

Get Help

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Following are commands for accessing Help.

F1 Opens the Microsoft Help window for the currently active program
Insert+F1 Opens the JAWS Help window
Insert+F1 twice Opens the JAWS Help menu for the currently active program
Insert+w Quick List of keyboard commands for currently active program
Insert+h Quick list of JAWS keyboard commands for currently active program

(Submitted by: Amy Salmon; Last updated: March 5, 2010)

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