JAWS (screen reader)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2012)|
|Initial release||January 1995|
|Stable release||15.0.7023 / February 26, 2014|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a Refreshable Braille display.
A May 2012 screen reader user survey by WebAIM, a web accessibility company, found JAWS to be the most popular screen reader worldwide; 49.1% of survey participants used it as a primary screen reader, while 63.7% of participants used it often.
JAWS supports all versions of Windows released since Windows XP. There are two versions of the program: Standard, which works on home Windows operating systems, and retails for US$895, and Professional, which works on all Windows operating systems, and retails for US$1,095. A DOS version, sometimes also known as JDOS, is free.
The JAWS Scripting Language allows the user to use programs without standard Windows controls, and programs that were not designed for accessibility.
JAWS was originally released in 1989 by Ted Henter, a former motorcycle racer who lost his sight in a 1978 automobile accident. In 1985, Henter, along with a $180,000 USD investment from Bill Joyce, founded the Henter-Joyce Corporation in St. Petersburg, Florida. Joyce sold his interest in the company back to Henter sometime in 1990. In April 2000, Henter-Joyce, Blazie Engineering, and Arkenstone, Inc. merged to form Freedom Scientific.
JAWS was originally created for the MS-DOS operating system. It was one of several screen readers giving blind users access to text-mode MS-DOS applications. A feature unique to JAWS at the time was its use of cascading menus, in the style of the popular Lotus 1-2-3 application. What set JAWS apart from other screen readers of the era was its use of macros that allowed users to customize the user interface and work better with various applications.
Ted Henter and Rex Skipper wrote the original JAWS code in the mid-1980s, releasing version 2.0 in mid-1990. Skipper left the company after the release of version 2.0, and following his departure, Charles Oppermann was hired to maintain and improve the product. Oppermann and Henter regularly added minor and major features and frequently released new versions. Freedom Scientific now offers JAWS for MS-DOS as a freeware download from their web site.
In 1993, Henter-Joyce released a highly-modified version of JAWS for people with learning disabilities. This product, called WordScholar, is no longer available.
JAWS for Windows
In 1992, as Microsoft Windows became more popular, Oppermann began work on a new version of JAWS. A principal design goal was not to interfere with the natural user interface of Windows and to continue to provide a strong macro facility. Test and beta versions of JAWS for Windows (JFW) were shown at conferences throughout 1993 and 1994. During this time, developer Glen Gordon started working on the code, ultimately taking over its development when Oppermann was hired by Microsoft in November 1994. Shortly afterwards, in January 1995, JAWS for Windows 1.0 was released.
Currently a new revision of JAWS for Windows is released about once a year, with minor updates in between. The latest version is 15.0, released in October 2013.
|This section requires expansion. (August 2012)|
The software includes a mode designed specifically for web use, activated when Internet Explorer is in the foreground. For web pages, JAWS first declares the title and number of links. Speech is toggled on/off with the Ctrl key, lines are navigated with the up/down arrow keys, and the (shift)Tab key moves between links and controls. Forms are found and read with Ctrl+Insert+Home, then the F key. JAWS can access headings in Word and PDF documents and web pages
JAWS' feature set and configurability have been described as "complex", with training recommended for users such as web designers performing accessibility testing, to avoid drawing the wrong conclusions from such testing.
|Version||Release date||Significant changes|
|JFW 1.0||January 1995||First version for Windows, supported Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11|
|JFW 2.0||About 1996||
Added support for Windows 95
|JFW 4.0||September 14, 2001||
|JFW 4.5||August 30, 2002||
|JFW 5.0||October 9, 2003||
|JFW 6.0||March 3, 2005|
|JFW 7.0||October 14, 2005|
|JFW 7.1||June 21, 2006|
|JFW 8.0||November 17, 2006|
|JFW 9.0||November 19, 2007||
|JFW 10.0||November 3, 2008|
|JFW 11.0||October 23, 2009||
|JFW 12.0||October 21, 2010|
|JFW 13.0||October 24, 2011|
|JFW 14.0||October 22, 2012|
|JFW 15.0||October 28, 2013||
- "Screen Reader User Survey #4". WebAIM. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- "JAWS System Requirements". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- "DOS Software Toolkit". Trace Research & Development Center. University of Wisconsin. 2007. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007.
- More JAWS downloads. Freedom Scientific. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
- "Henter-Joyce Newsletter". September 1993.
- Thatcher et al. (2006). Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance (1 ed.). Friends of ED. p. 109. ISBN 978-1590596388.
- Thatcher et al., p. 385
- Thatcher et al., p. 501.
- What's New in JAWS 4.0. Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 24, 2006
- What's New in JAWS 4.5. Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 24, 2006
- "Freedom Scientific Newsroom: JAWS for Windows 5.0 is released". Press Release. St. Petersburg, Florida: Freedom Scientific. October 9, 2003. Retrieved November 9, 2008.
- What's New in JAWS 5.0. Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 24, 2006
- "JAWS 6.0 is Shipping to New Purchasers and SMA Holders". Press Release. St. Petersburg, Florida: Freedom Scientific. March 3, 2005. Retrieved November 9, 2008.
- "What's new in JAWS 6.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 24, 2006
- "JAWS 7.0 Ships to New Buyers and SMA Holders". Press Release. St. Petersburg, Florida: Freedom Scientific. October 14, 2005. Retrieved November 9, 2008.
- "What's New in JAWS 7.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 24, 2006
- "What's New in JAWS 7.10". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 24, 2006
- "What's New in JAWS 8.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 22, 2007
- "What's New in JAWS 9.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved November 22, 2007.
- "What's New in JAWS 10". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
- "What's New in JAWS 11.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
- "Features and Enhancements in JAWS 12". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- "What's New in JAWS 13.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- "What's New in JAWS 14.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
- "What's New in JAWS 15.0". Freedom Scientific. Retrieved October 28, 2013.