Although there are a number of screen readers available for persons with visual impairments, WMU has chosen to use and support JAWS for Windows, a well-established screen reading software by freedom scientific. The following instructional materials are specific to JAWS only. There are, however, many common elements described below that can be applied for use with other screen reading software such as Non-Visual Desktop Access, Window Eyes, and Apple Voiceover.
JAWS version 11.0 or 12.0 is recommended for use with Windows Vista and Windows 7. In this case, Internet Explorer 8 and 9 will produce the best user experience. JAWS version 10.x is recommended for those using windows XP. In this case, Internet Explorer 8 is recommended.
JAWS for Windows allows blind users to navigate the web using a number of different web elements. For example, a JAWS user can evoke a command that will allow him or her to view only the unvisited links on a web page. Similarly, a user can also choose to view only the HTML headings, form fields, graphics, lists, and so forth. Because a blind student cannot use a mouse, navigation by these web elements allows users to gain access to different parts of a web page in an effective and organized way.
Elearning has an accessibility setting that will make interacting with pop-up windows for JAWS easier.
You can set that preference by logging into Elearning. On the left side of the screen is a box labeled "My Settings." The second link underneath it is "Preferences."
Clicking on "Preferences" will bring up a series of tabs. Click on the second tab from the left which is labeled "Appearance & Accessibility." There are some Font settings on that screen, followed by a section labeled "Dialog Setting." There are a couple radio buttons that let you choose whether the secondary windows appear as either Dialogs or Pop-Ups.
For JAWS users, selecting the "Pop-Ups" option will make JAWS work most effectively with various pop-ups within D2L.
Web developers often begin sections or areas of a web page by using different levels of HTML headings. Many areas of the D2L environment are conveniently divided into headings. Students can jump to the beginning of these areas using the following JAWS commands:
As with headings, students may jump to other specific controls or elements in the D2L environment using JAWS commands. Students can navigate a web page using buttons, Checkboxes, combo boxes, and radio buttons by using the following commands:
- When not in forms mode, pressing the letter 'b' will move the JAWS virtual cursor forward through a web page by button.
- Pressing SHIFT + B will move the JAWS virtual cursor backwards through a web page by button.
- Pressing INSERT + F5 will bring up a list of buttons and other form fields on the current web page.
- Once the desired button is found, it may be activated by pressing the space bar.
- When not in forms mode, pressing the letter 'x' will move the jaws virtual cursor forward through a web page by check box.
- Pressing SHIFT + X will move the JAWS virtual cursor backwards through a web page by check box.
- Pressing INSERT + F5 will bring up a list of checkboxes and other form fields on the current web page.
- The state of a check box (checked or unchecked) can be toggled by pressing the space bar.
- When not in forms mode, pressing the letter 'C' will move the JAWS virtual cursor forward through a web page by combo box.
- Pressing SHIFT + C will move the JAWS virtual cursor backwards through a web page by combo box.
- Pressing INSERT + F5 will bring up a list of combo boxes and other form fields on the current web page.
- To manipulate a combo box, JAWS must be in forms mode. Forms mode is explained below in greater detail. Once in forms mode, the choices in a combo box may be selected by pressing the up and down arrow keys.
- When not in forms mode, pressing the letter 'R' will move the JAWS virtual cursor forward through a web page by radio button.
- Pressing SHIFT + R will move the JAWS virtual cursor backwards through a web page by radio button.
- Pressing INSERT + F5 will bring up a list of radio buttons and other form fields on the current web page.
- A radio button may be selected by pressing the space bar.
Edit boxes are a type of form field that allow the user to enter text into a web page. They are used frequently throughout the internet. Edit boxes in the D2L environment accept a variety of information. An example of an edit box used in D2L is the search field on the D2L home page.
JAWS only allows users to type into an edit box when it is in forms mode. Once in forms mode, all characters typed on the keyboard are entered into the edit box. When not in forms mode, characters typed on the keyboard function as keyboard shortcuts that move the user around a web page by different web elements (described above.)
JAWS versions 10.0 and above place the user in forms mode automatically when an edit box or combo box is encountered. When JAWS enters forms mode, the user is notified by a high-pitched, Popping sound. When JAWS exits forms mode, a lower-pitched popping sound can be heard. At times, automatic forms mode does not function properly and the user is not placed in forms mode when jumping to or otherwise encountering an edit box or combo box. In this case, the user must use the up and down arrow keys when in proximity of the edit box until the high pitched, popping sound is heard.
While the average user is often unaware of HTML tables, the proficient JAWS user encounters and uses them frequently while on the internet. HTML tables are a way for web developers to display information on a web page in an organized way. A good example of an HTML table in the D2L environment is the calendar that is displayed when opening the calendar tool. The days of the week function as column headers and are located at the top of the table. The numbered days of the month are each in a separate cell within the table. the following JAWS commands should be used when working with HTML tables:
- When not in forms mode, pressing the letter 't' will move the jaws virtual cursor forward through a web page by table.
Pressing SHIFT + T moves the JAWS virtual cursor backwards through the web page by table.
To navigate a table using JAWS, CTRL + ALT + the Arrow Keys will move the JAWS cursor up, down, left and right by individual cell. JAWS reads the cells aloud as they are encountered. For example, if the user wishes to read the cells in a single row of a table, pressing CTRL + ALT + RIGHT ARROW will move the JAWS virtual cursor sequentially along the row by cell in the right direction.
Graphics are yet another way a JAWS user may navigate a web page. D2L consistently uses graphics to represent a variety of controls and icons. The graphics are properly labeled so that when they are encountered by a screen reader, the function of the graphic and/or what it represents is read aloud by JAWS. For example, there are graphics located throughout the D2L Home page that allow users to collapse or expand the widgets. A JAWS user can interact with these graphics by pressing the space bar once they have located and moved the JAWS to the desired graphic. The following commands can be used to navigate a web page by graphic:
As with virtually all web pages, the D2L environment is full of links which can perform a number of different tasks. the JAWS user can activate a visited or unvisited link by navigating to the desired link and pressing the space bar. When the link is successfully activated, a clicking sound can be heard. JAWS users can navigate a webpage using links in the following ways:
JAWS supports reading text in a variety of ways. Once the user has navigated to a section of text within the D2L environment, The following JAWS commands can be used to read and review the text (NOTE: the commands below must be performed on the number pad of a standard keyboard. Num Lock must be turned off in order for these commands to work.)
In order to ensure discussion forums are accessible with JAWS:
Reading Style will maximum JAWS compatibility and ease of use by placing all of the discussion threads on one HTML page. The default setting, "Grid Style," displays discussions in multiple frames that are not fully compatible with JAWS.
Students must be able to access their WMU e-mail to successfully participate in e-learning. Students using JAWS or other screen reading software are encouraged to use an email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Windows Live mail as these programs are less difficult to navigate than web based email. If a student must use web based mail, it is strongly suggested that the mobile version of WMU's email service is utilized.
The mobile version of WMU's web-based email can be accessed by visiting the following link: http://webmail.wmich.edu
After entering their BroncoNET ID and password, students must select "mobile" from the version selection box below the BroncoNET and password fields.
Once logged in, students should use the JAWS navigation commands listed above to read and organize email in the mobile view. There are also hotkeys built into the mobile view that help to facilitate quick and efficient movement. The hotkeys are spoken aloud when encountering an element containing a hotkey. Most hotkeys use a combination of the ALT key, the SHIFT key, and a third key which is usually a letter or number that represents the respective control.
A final note about the mobile version of WMU's email system: users cannot directly download or upload attachments in this version. Students must work with attachments that have been previously stored in their Briefcase. Access to the briefcase is limited to an interface that is only available through the standard version of WMU's email system.
Microsoft introduced a new kind of notification bar in this version of Internet Explorer. It appears as a gold and white bar at the bottom of a webpage where information is displayed about the status of your browser, a webpage, or a download. It usually provides you with one or more actions you can take, such as Open or Save, and then disappears if you navigate away from a webpage. When downloading a file, the user will no longer be prompted with a system dialogue box asking what to do with the file. The choices now appear in the notification bar.
A JAWS user can interact with the notification bar by pressing the key combination ALT + N. In JAWS versions 12.x and 13.x, an alert is spoken by JAWS when the notification bar requires the users attention. Sometimes, however, the alert may be inadvertently silenced by the user, or may not be heard for some unknown reason. Therefore, it is important to interact with the notification bar anytime a download is started or if the browser is performing unexpectedly.