Industry News

The March update of JAWS is here. The following is a list of improvements made in JAWS 2018 between the February 2018 update and the March 2018 update.

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


  • JAWS will now unmute your sound card automatically. In addition to refreshing the screen, pressing INSERT+ESC now also checks the sound device being used by JAWS or Fusion to make sure it is not currently muted or has the sound level set to 0 percent. If muted, it will be unmuted. Or, if the sound level somehow got set to 0 percent, this new feature will raise it to 50 percent, allowing you to recover without getting assistance. The sound device is also checked every time JAWS or Fusion is restarted. If you purposely muted JAWS speech, there is not an issue as this new feature only looks at the Windows setting for the sound card, not the JAWS speech settings.
  • This update includes drivers for the Orbit Reader 20 braille display from APH. Once the March 2018 update or later is installed, your Orbit Reader 20 will work with JAWS or Fusion 2018 without the need to download a separate driver installation file.
  • We've added a new layered command to toggle the Screen Shade on or off. Since some computers do not offer a PRINTSCREEN key, you can now press INSERT+SPACEBAR, F11 as an alternative to INSERT+SPACEBAR, PRINTSCREEN to toggle the Screen Shade feature.
  • The Commands Search along with the layered keystroke to launch it (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J) is now at the top of the JAWS Help menu to make it easier for users to locate this feature. The Search for Commands item has been removed from the JAWS Utilities menu.
  • Resolved an issue with the Bookshare Book Search Research It lookup source not displaying a list of books as expected.
  • When selecting files from a list view in File Explorer, resolved an issue where JAWS would not announce names of files if the list extended past the visible window.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS would unexpectedly restart when pressing ALT+WINDOWS+I to move to the next inconsistency in a document.
  • When using JAWS over a Remote Desktop or Citrix connection with a braille display connected, resolved an issue where JAWS on the remote system would sometimes close unexpectedly.
  • Added a new Dictionary entry to correct the pronunciation of Aira. It will now be pronounced: "EyeRah".
  • JAWS now uses the Liblouis braille translator for French braille. Note that French Grade 1 and French Grade 2 currently only supports output. If you want to be able to both display and type braille in Grade 1 or Grade 2, you should choose Unified French.
  • JAWS now includes a Finnish language braille table which can be selected in the Computer Braille Tables dialog box in Settings Center.

Amazon Kindle for PC

  • You can now select text in a Kindle book by character, word, line, and paragraph. Once you select the text and press CTRL+C to copy, the Kindle app opens a selection toolbar where you can copy the selected text, highlight the text, lookup the text on the Internet, add a note, and more.

Microsoft Office

  • Addressed issues with JAWS not working correctly with the Spellchecker in the latest updates to Office 365.
  • When navigating in the Outlook auto complete list that displays when typing in the header fields of a new message, resolved an issue where JAWS was announcing the previous item instead of the currently selected one.
  • When spell checking a Word document and you are focused in the Original Sentence field, pressing ENTER now accepts the first suggestion.
  • Addressed reported issues with using Braille Line Mode in Office 2010 on Windows 7.
  • In response to customer feedback, improved the error message that is spoken when INSERT+C to read the word in context is pressed and focus is not in the Spellchecker.

Web Browsers

  • You can now select and copy text from web pages in Microsoft Edge. Currently, selecting by character, word, and line are supported.
  • When navigating by character in Edge, addressed an issue where JAWS was not indicating upper case characters.
  • When using the JAWS table reading commands to move through a table in Edge, resolved an issue where JAWS was not indicating links in table cells.
  • The O and SHIFT+O Navigation Quick Keys now move to the next and previous article on a web page. In addition, the CTRL+INSERT+O command now displays a list of articles on the page. The scripts for navigating by object are still available but are no longer assigned. They can be reassigned if needed using the Navigation Quick Key Manager accessed from the Run JAWS Manager dialog box (INSERT+F2).
  • Pressing APOSTROPHE or SHIFT+APOSTROPHE now moves to the next or previous tab control on a web page. You can also now press CTRL+INSERT+APOSTROPHE to display a list of all tab controls.
  • When encountering a separator on a web page, resolved an issue where JAWS was incorrectly reading several dashes before saying "separator".
  • Addressed an issue where JAWS was not automatically reading dialog boxes opened from web pages in Chrome or when using INSERT+B.
  • Resolved an issue where some tables were not being detected properly with JAWS 2018 even though they worked fine in JAWS 18.
  • Addressed a reported issue with the B and SHIFT+B Navigation Quick Keys not moving to menu buttons as expected.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS custom labels assigned to edit fields were not being announced in Chrome.
  • If Forms mode is set to Auto or Semi-Auto, resolved a reported issue where Forms mode was not activating when navigating to a vertical slider using the TAB Key.

Windows 10

  • Resolved an issue where JAWS was not announcing results in the calculator in the latest Windows 10 updates.
  • If you use multiple desktops, JAWS now indicates the currently active desktop when CTRL+WINDOWS+LEFT ARROW or CTRL+WINDOWS+RIGHT ARROW is pressed to switch between desktops.
  • When pressing ENTER to select a category or subcategory in the Windows Settings app (WINDOWS+I), JAWS now says which item is selected as you navigate the list in addition to indicating the selection in braille.

Introducing Dictation Bridge a free open source dictation solution for NVDA and Jaws. It serves as a gateway between you, the NVDA and/or Jaws screen readers and either Dragon Naturally Speaking or Windows Speech Recognition.

Dictation Bridge 1.0 is fully featured. Some of the highlights are:

  • Works with both NVDA and Jaws
  • Jaws users can control both Windows Speech Recognition and Dragon.
  • Does not change screen reader set up unrelated to dictation
  • Echoes back dictated text
  • An extensive collection of verbal commands that can control screen readers and perform a variety of other tasks with Dragon products.
  • No cost solution
  • As free open source software it can be added to, modified or repurposed by the community.
  • High-quality documentation
  • Can hand off its functionality between screen readers.

See the DictationBridge documentation for a full list of features.

This story warmed our hearts here at IA. Kudos to Microsoft, SAP and all 50 of the big-name companies that came together for the April summit on how to bring more autistic adults into the workforce and recognizing the talents of those with autism.
Read or watch the CBS Story, “The growing acceptance of autism in the workplace.”

By Kimberly Cline

The 33rd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference is an inclusive setting for researchers, practitioners, speakers, exhibitors, end users, and other participants to share a wide-range of knowledge in the field of assistive technology.

CSUN is a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions that can be utilized to remove the barriers that preclude the full participation of persons with disabilities in workplace, educational and social settings.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on December 26, 2017, that it has officially withdrawn its two Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) related to website accessibility: one under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applicable to state and local governments and one under Title III applicable to private businesses open to the public. The DOJ’s purported basis for the withdrawal of these two ANPRMs is to evaluate whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of web information and services is “necessary and appropriate.”  Such evaluation “will be informed by additional review of data and further analysis.” The DOJ “will continue to assess whether specific technical standards are necessary and appropriate to assist covered entities with complying with the ADA.”

The announcement withdrawing the regulations follows the July 2017 decision to place the Title III regulations on the “inactive list” and ends efforts that started with the release of the ANPRM in 2010.

The withdrawal of these ANPRMs means continued uncertainty for website owners and operators as to the benchmarks that must be met to comply with the ADA, if any.

The popular free screen reader, NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), has released version 2017.4, which includes many fixes and enhancements to web support. This includes browse mode for web dialogs by default, better reporting of field group labels in browse mode, support for new Windows 10 technologies such as Windows Defender Application Guard and Windows 10 on ARM64, and automatic reporting of screen orientation and battery status. Please note that this version of NVDA no longer supports Windows XP or Windows Vista. The minimum requirement for NVDA is now windows 7 with Service Pack 1.

New Features include:

  • In browse mode, it is now possible to skip past/to the start of landmarks using the skip to end/beginning of container commands (comma/shift+comma).
  • In Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, quick navigation to edit fields and form fields now includes editable rich text content (I.e. contentEditable).
  • In web browsers, the Elements List can now list form fields and buttons.
  • Initial support for Windows 10 on ARM64.
  • Early support for reading and interactive navigation of mathematical content for Kindle books with accessible math.
  • Added support for Azardi e-book reader.
  • Version information for add-ons is now reported when being updated.
  • Added new command line parameters to create a portable copy of NVDA.
  • Support for Microsoft Edge running within Windows Defender Application Guard in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
  • If running on a laptop or tablet, NVDA will now report when a charger is connected/disconnected, and when the screen orientation changes.
  • New language: Macedonian.
  • New braille translation tables: Croatian grade 1, Vietnamese grade 1.
  • Support for the Actilino braille display from Handy Tech has been added.
  • Braille input for Handy Tech braille displays is now supported.


  • The minimum supported Operating System for NVDA is now Windows 7 Service Pack 1, or Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.
  • Web dialogs in Firefox and Chrome web browsers now automatically use browse Mode, unless inside of a web application.
  • In browse mode, tabbing and moving with quick navigation commands no longer announces jumping out of containers such as lists and tables, which makes navigating more efficient.
  • In Browse mode for Firefox and Chrome, the name of form field groups are now announced when moving into them with quick navigation or when tabbing.
  • In browse mode, the quick navigation command for embedded objects (o and shift+o) now includes audio and video elements as well as elements with the aria roles application and dialog.
  • Espeak-ng has been updated to 1.49.2, resolving some issues with producing release builds.
  • On the third activation of the 'read status bar' command, its contents is copied to the clipboard.
  • When assigning gestures to keys on a Baum display, you can limit them to the model of the braille display in use (e.g. VarioUltra or Pronto).
  • The hotkey for the filter field in the elements list in browse mode has changed from alt+f to alt+e.
  • An unbound command has been added for browse mode to toggle the inclusion of layout tables on the fly. You can find this command in the Browse mode category of the Input Gestures dialog.
  • Upgraded liblouis braille translator to 3.3.0.
  • The hotkey for the regular expression radio button in the dictionary dialog has changed from alt+r to alt+e.
  • Voice dictionary files are now versioned and have been moved to the 'speechDicts/voiceDicts.v1' directory.
  • Versioned files (user configuration, voice dictionaries) modifications are no longer saved when NVDA is run from the launcher.
  • The Braillino, Bookworm and Modular (with old firmware) braille displays from Handy Tech are no longer supported out of the box. Install the Handy Tech Universal Driver and NVDA add-on to use these displays.

Bug Fixes

  • Links are now indicated in braille in applications such as Microsoft Word.
  • NVDA no longer becomes noticeably slower when many tabs are open in either Firefox or Chrome web browsers.
  • Cursor routing for the MDV Lilli Braille display no longer incorrectly moves one braille cell ahead of where it should be.
  • In Internet Explorer and other MSHTML documents, the HTML5 required attribute is now supported to indicate the required state of a form field.
  • Braille displays are now updated when typing Arabic characters in a left-aligned WordPad document.
  • Accessible labels for controls in Mozilla Firefox are now more readily reported in browse mode when the label does not appear as content itself.
  • On windows 10 Creaters Update, NVDA can again access Firefox after a restart of NVDA.
  • When restarting NVDA with Mozilla Firefox in focus, browse mode will again be available, though you may need to alt+tab away and back again.
  • It is now possible to access math content in Google Chrome on a system without Mozilla Firefox installed.  
  • The Operating System and other applications should be more stable directly after installing NVDA before rebooting, as compaired with installs of previous NVDA versions.
  • When using a content recognition command (e.g. NVDA+r), NVDA now reports an error message instead of nothing if the navigator object has disappeared.
  • Backward scrolling functionality has been fixed for Freedom Scientific braille displays containing a left bumper bar.

Changes for Developers

  • "scons tests" now checks that translatable strings have translator comments. You can also run this alone with "scons checkPot".
  • There is now a new extensionPoints module which provides a generic framework to enable code extensibility at specific points in the code. This allows interested parties to register to be notified when some action occurs (extensionPoints.Action), to modify a specific kind of data (extensionPoints.Filter) or to participate in deciding whether something will be done (extensionPoints.Decider).
  • You can now register to be notified about configuration profile switches via the config.configProfileSwitched Action.
  • Braille display gestures that emulate system keyboard key modifiers (such as control and alt) can now be combined with other emulated system keyboard keys without explicit definition.
    • For example, if you have a key on your display bound to the alt key and another display key to downArrow, combining these keys will result in the emulation of alt+downArrow.
  • The braille.BrailleDisplayGesture class now has an extra model property. If provided, pressing a key will generate an additional, model specific gesture identifier. This allows a user to bind gestures limited to a specific braille display model.
  • See the baum driver as an example for this new functionality.

NVDA is now compiled with Visual Studio 2017 and the Windows 10 SDK. 

Google is requiring developers explain how their apps properly use Accessibility Service to help people with disabilities in order to keep their requests for Accessibility Services. Noncompliance will mean the removal of the app from the Play Store. This is separate from the effort to make an app conform to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. Some sites, such as Android Police, have speculated that this initiative could largely be due to security.

Read more on Google’s new requirement on 9TO5Google.

Kmart, Empire Today and Ace Hardware have all been accused of having websites that allegedly cannot be used by individuals who are visually impaired. Lawsuits have been filed by a California woman that alleges the companies are running websites and mobile apps that people who are blind and visually impaired can’t read, meaning they are denying potential customers access to products and services, a violation of the ADA.

See the Chicago Tribune article for more information

JAWS 2018 Public Beta

Jaws has released the 2018 Public Beta. Among the new features are:

  • JAWS Version Number Change
  • Microsoft Edge Support
  • Convenient OCR Adds Support for Freedom Scientific Cameras and Flatbed Scanners
  • All New Installer
  • New Verbosity Options for the Virtual Cursor“Document and Web Pages Automatically Read when Loaded” Option added to settings
  • Support for Microsoft Mobile Voices in Windows 10
  • Updated Liblouis Braille Translator
  • Improvement to Jaws Language Switching
  • Acronym Expansion Included When Spelling a Word
  • Read Dialog Boxes in Modern Apps

For more details and to download the JAWS 2018 Public Beta read What’s new in JAWS 2018 Public Beta on the Freedom Scientific website. 

For those who are blind the total solar eclipse, which is coming on August 21, 2017, could be little more than a story if it weren’t for The Eclipse Soundscapes Project by NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium. Through an iOS app, the project will deliver a multisensory experience of the event. This will include:

  • Audio description in real time
  • Recordings of the changing environment
  • A “rumble map” allowing user to visualize the eclipse through touch

The recordings will remain available as an open source file. The app can be downloaded from the apple store.  It will also be available for android soon. MP3 and MP4 files will also be available for desktop


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