- Using your Screen Reader
- General ***sr Commands
- Speech Output
- Controlling Speech in Text Windows
- Controlling Speech in Dialog Boxes
- Braille Output
- ***bd Panel
- Basic ***bd Functions
- Controlling Speech with ***bd keys
- Emulating Main Keyboard with ***bd
- Using Virtual Mouse Device
- Combining Speech and Braille
- Using your Screen Enlargement Software ***se
As their name says, accessibility or adaptive programs help the people
with special needs to access information which otherwise would be inaccessible for them. Only the use of these programs makes working
with computers possible for blind and partially sighted people.
For visually impaired persons who still have enough vision to see
characters and other objects on the screen in case their size is
properly adapted, there are so-called
Screen Enlargement programs
available. In addition to enlarging the contents of the screen,
the screen enlargement software offers usually different navigation
Blind persons use so-called
Screen Reader software
to access the contents of the screen. There are basically two
alternative ways for blind persons to work with computers: aural and
tactile way. It is possible to
choose between using a speech synthesizer or a Braille
display. However the most efficient method is to combine the both
This section gives you merely a short introduction into the most
important functions of the software you currently use.
Screen readers are programs which make the information on the
computer screen accessible through a Braille display or a speech synthesizer.
Screen readers must be able to
pick out elements that will make what is on the screen meaningful,
so that the user can manage the dialog with the machine
Windows can display information anywhere on the screen, in any
size, and screen readers must be able to identify where to focus at
multiple cursors with different cursor shapes and many
possible screen positions for these
different cursors, which makes tracking events difficult. All this makes these
programs very complex and expensive.
In this section I try to explain
as short as possible only the very basics of ***sr. This should enable you to
make your first steps in Windows and to continue by yourself learning more
advanced functions and techniques.
General ***sr Commands
This section lists and explains some important ***sr commands that affect
***sr overall behavior irrespective of the output devices used.
- Start ***sr: ***SR_Start
JAWS comes without any keyboard shortcut with which you could start it. Click here to see how to make
- Open ***sr Window: ***SR_Window
- In the ***sr application window you can change many Screen Reader
settings in order to adapt its behavior to your expectations.
Here is no place to go deeper inside ***sr. To learn more about it,
***sr On-line Help and the other manuals provided with the software.
- Shut Down ***sr: ***SR_Shut_Down
- Refresh Screen: ***Refresh_Screen
- This is a very important command. ***sr is from time to time
confused and does not show/speak the relevant
piece of the screen contents. It occurs sometimes in the Start Menu,
sometimes also in other applications after changing from one View in another.
Pressing ***Refresh_Screen helps almost always.
- Hot Key Help: ***Hot_Key_Help
- Display Sensitive Help: ***Display_Sensitive_Help
- Keyboard Help (toggle): ***Keyboard_Help
- Find a text on the screen: ***SR_Find
- Find the previous occurrence of the found string: ***SR_Find_Previous
- Find the next occurrence of the found string: ***SR_Find_Next
- Pass a Key Through to the active application: ***Pass_Key_Through
- It happens sometimes that an application you work in uses a same key
combination as ***sr for some command you actually need. Normally you could
not use it, because ***sr snatches it. Press a key combination you will to be
processed from the active application immediately after pressing ***Pass_Key_Through
and ***sr will let it through.
- Activate the Graphics Labeler: ***Graphics_Labeler
- With the Graphics Labeler you can "label" icons and buttons that
***sr does not recognize.
- Activate the Automatic Graphics Labeler: ***Automatic_Graphics_Labeler
- ***sr can execute an automatic labeling of all graphics in the active
window. Before doing it you have to switch the tool tips on. The contents of
the corresponding tool tip will be made to the graphic label.
Most of the time ***sr reads exactly the information you expect to hear:
- If you switch to a window or open a new one, ***sr reads the window
- In a text area you get to hear the line or the word you move to
- In a dialog box you hear the type of the control you tab to and its
This default behavior of ***sr makes the working with Windows controls
and Windows applications intuitive and easy.
Nevertheless the automatic actions executed by ***sr can by no means cover
your complete information need. Often you have to re-call to your memory the
line, the word or exactly the character on the current insertion position. From
time to time you need the contents of the status bar or a glance to the system
time on the task bar. There are also applications and situations where the only
possibility to activate a control is by using mouse.
As the most Screen Readers ***sr also uses the numeric keypad on the right
side of the Desktop keyboard for the most of its commands. In order to make the
name shorter I use NUM PAD for it.
The Braille foil no. 15 brings among the rest the NUM PAD labels in its ON
***sr uses NUM PAD key labels active in the OFF state of the NUM LOCK key.
Click here to see them in a text
***sr uses NUM PAD key labels active in the ON state of the NUM LOCK key.
Click here to see them in a text
You can switch the NUM PAD ON and OFF with the toggle key NUM LOCK located in
the upper left corner of the NUM PAD.
Controlling Speech in Text Windows
To exercise the following commands open the file "Moving
around.txt" in the Accelerate folder.
The elementary speech control commands are:
- Say Character on the insertion point: ***Say_Character
- Say Previous Character: ***Say_Previous_Character
- Say Next Character: ***Say_Next_Character
- Say Word containing the insertion point: ***Say_Word
- Say Previous Word: ***Say_Previous_Word
- Say Next Word: ***Say_Next_Word
- Spell current Word: ***Spell_Word
- Say Line containing the insertion point: ***Say_Line
- Say Previous Line: ***Say_Previous_Line
- Say Next Line: ***Say_Next_Line
- Say All: ***Say_All
All listed commands containing the words next and previous as well as the
command Say All move the insertion point to the object before reading it.
The next group of speech commands let the insertion point on its place:
- Say from the beginning of line to Cursor: ***Say_to_Cursor
- Say from Cursor to the end of line: ***Say_from_Cursor
- Say Top Line of Window: ***Say_Top_Line_of_Window
- Say Bottom Line of Window: ***Say_Bottom_Line_of_Window
- Say Window Title: ***Say_Window_Title
- Say Text without moving the insertion point: ***Read_Window_without_Movement
When you will control the visual characteristics of text passages, move the
insertion point to the character within the area of interest and issue the
command Say Font: ***Say_Font.
You can also always interrupt speech by pressing ***Interrupt_Speech.
Controlling Speech in Dialog Boxes
When you tab through a dialog box ***sr reads the label of the control which
has a focus and its value. For example in case of a list you will hear that you
are in a list view with the name so and so and on the end will follow the name
of the currently selected list item. If you focus a check box the speech
synthesizer will say its name and status (checked or not checked) etc.
The following list brings some speech commands helping you to get information
about where you are in a dialog box and to speed up you working with it.
- Say Current Control's Hot Key: ***Say_Current_Control_Hot_Key
- Say Window Prompt and Text: ***Say_Window_Prompt_and_Text
Click here for a complete list of ***sr
Click here for a complete list of
***sr speech commands.
With the refreshable Braille display ***bd you have in a way a Braille window
which you can virtually draw over the content of the computer screen to view it.
All the time ***sr tries to find the most important information on the screen
and to automatically put it on you Braille display. If you have not switched off
the ***sr cursor tracking, ***bd will display the area containing the insertion
point in a text and the control which has currently the focus in a dialog box.
Aside of all automatic intuition of ***sr you can use the keys on the ***bd
- to navigate the Braille window around the computer screen
- to emulate mouse actions
- to activate some ***sr speech output functions
- to emulate some main keyboard shortcuts.
This section explains which keys or key combinations on the Braille Display you need to press in order to activate certain ***sr functions. For each function a short explanation is given about what this function does.
Only the very basic key bindings are listed here to give you the
kick-off for your further learning. Consult the ***sr on-line help to
find out all ***sr commands currently assigned to the keys on your
Braille Display and to learn how to change or add key assignments.
- Move left by one Braille segment: ***Braille_Back
- This command pans your Braille display to the left exactly the number
of characters on the reading part of your Braille display. It can
happen that words are simply cut of at the beginning or at the end of
the Braille display. If there is no more text to the left of the
current Braille segment, the Braille display is moved to the rightmost
segment of the previous line.
- Move right by one Braille segment: ***Braille_Next
- Like the previous command, only now your Braille display is panned
to the right. If there is no more text to the right of the current
Braille segment, the Braille display is moved to the leftmost segment
of the next line. This key is the most commonly used key on the
Braille display, since it enables you to read on a piece of text.
- Move to previous line: ***Braille_Up
- This command moves your Braille display up one line vertically.
- Move to next line: ***Braille_Down
- This command moves your Braille display down one line vertically.
- Move Braille display to top of Window: ***Braille_Top
- The Braille display is moved to the top of the window the active
cursor is in. In most cases this command brings you to the window's
- Move Braille display to bottom of window: ***Braille_Bottom
- The Braille display is moved to the bottom of the active
window. In most cases this command brings you to the status bar if it
- Move Braille display to the left edge of window: ***Braille_Left
- In MS Windows it is possible, that a line of text contains more
than hundred characters. If you work with a 40-cell Braille Display,
so a line will fill 3 or 4 Braille lines. ***Braille_Left brings you immediately
to the beginning of the line - to the left edge of the window.
- Move Braille display to the right edge of window: ***Braille_Right
- In MS Windows it is possible, that a line of text contains more
than hundred characters. If you work with a 40-cell Braille Display,
so a line will fill 3 or 4 Braille lines. ***Braille_Right brings you immediately
to the end of the line - to the right edge of the window.
- Route Braille display to position of active cursor: ***Braille_To_Cursor
- If you are browsing the window with the Braille cursor in geographical mode, this command takes you back to the active cursor or
mouse pointer depending on which ***sr tracking mode is active.
- Left mouse button click or insertion point routing: ***Braille_Mouse_Left_Click
- Use the touch cursor to perform a mouse click on the screen at the
location that corresponds to its position. In a word
processor or a text editor this will result in routing the insertion point to
that position. If you click the ***Braille_Mouse_Left_Click on for
example a button, a hyperlink or a menu item, this will have the same
effect as performing a mouse click on these items.
- Right mouse button click: ***Braille_Mouse_Right_Click
- This function performs a right mouse click on the screen, at the
location corresponding with the position of the DTC on the Braille display. This can be particularly useful to get a context menu on
items that provide one.
- Toggle attribute mode: ***Attribute_Mode
- In the attribute mode ***bd shows the special dot patterns instead
of the normal text. these patterns represent different text attributes
on this computer screen position. Learn more about it in the ***sr on-line Help.
- Toggle Display mode: ***Braille_Display_Mode_Toggle
- You can use this command to toggle between different navigation modes.
- Toggle Braille keys move active cursor: ***Braille_Moves_Cursor_Toggle
- Normally you can use the Braille navigation key on front of your
***bd Braille display to browse the window without moving the focus or
the mouse pointer. If you turn on this function, you can use the Braille navigation keys to move the active cursor. It can be
especially useful for reading a document in Braille. You can just keep
pressing ***RIGHT whenever you are finished reading a Braille segment and
read until the end of the document this way. Each time you press
***RIGHT, ***sr will take along the PC cursor.
- Toggle Follow-Mouse Mode on and off: ***Braille_Follow_Mouse_Mode_Toggle
- This key changes the Navigation mode from Follow-PC-cursor Mode to
Follow-Mouse Mode and vice versa.
Controlling Speech with ***bd keys
***sr sets up some ***bd keys to control speech. So you can let your fingers
on the Braille display and even so control some ***sr speech functions. These
key bindings should optimize using ***sr simultaneously with
both: Braille display and speech output.
Here follows a list of most common speech functions which you can invoke from
the ***bd panel:
- Read window title in speech: ***Braille_Speech_Top
- Read bottom line of window in speech: ***Braille_Speech_Bottom
- Read current word in speech: ***Braille_Speech_Word
- Read current line in speech: ***Braille_Speech_Line
- Read All in speech: ***Braille_Speech_All
- If the PC cursor is active JAWS will read the complete document,
beginning from the line the active cursor is on. The PC cursor will be
dragged along the document. The speaking will not stop until the end
of the document is reached or the user interrupts with the stop speech
command. In that case the active cursor will be placed right at the
beginning of the last spoken word. When the JAWS cursor or the
invisible cursor is active the current visible Window will be read
instead of the document, starting from the line the active cursor is
on and ending at the bottom of the Window.
- Read selected text: ***Braille_Speech_Selection
- Mute Synthesizer: ***Braille_Speech_Mute
- Read font at touch cursor position: ***Braille_Speech_Font
- This function will produce a speech message containing information
about the font, attributes and possibly color of the character at the position
of the touch cursor.
Emulating Main Keyboard with ***bd
- UP ARROW key: ***Braille_Arrow_Up
- DOWN ARROW key: ***Braille_Arrow_Down
- LEFT ARROW key: ***Braille_Arrow_Left
- RIGHT ARROW key: ***Braille_Arrow_Right
- CONTROL+HOME: ***Braille_Control_Home
- The PC cursor is activated and routed to the beginning of a document
or to the first item in a list, depending on the context in which this
command is used.
- CONTROL+END: ***Braille_Control_End
- The PC cursor is activated and routed to the end of a document or to
the last item in a list, depending on the context in which this
command is used.
- ALT key: ***Braille_Alt
- This command activates the menu bar.
- WINDOWS key: ***Braille_Windows
- This command opens the Windows Start menu.
- TAB key: ***Braille_Tab
- This command moves the focus to the next control in a dialog box,
according to the tab order. This function actually emulates the TAB
key. So you can also use it to enter a tab stop in a Word processor.
- SHIFT+TAB: ***Braille_Shift_Tab
- This command moves the focus to the previous control in a dialog box,
according to the tab order. You can use it for example, to move from
the filename edit to the folder list view in the standard Open dialog.
- ENTER key: ***Braille_Enter
- You can use this command to
press a button for example. You can also use it in a Word processor to
enter a carriage return.
- ESCAPE key: ***Braille_Escape
- You can use this function to move up one level in any menu. For
example when you are in a pull down menu, this function brings you
back to the main menu bar.
- BACKSPACE key: ***Braille_Backspace
- This command can be used to move to
the parent folder in the Windows explorer/My Computer application.
***sr provides even the functionality to select text with the keys
on the ***bd panel. Here are the keys:
- To select a text:
- Press ***Braille_Selecting_Start where you will the
selection to start
- Press ***Braille_Selecting_End where you will the selection to
- CONTROL+X: ***Braille_Control_X
- Cut to clipboard
This command removes the selected text or items and copies it to the
- CONTRL+C: ***Braille_Control_C
- Copy to clipboard
This command copies the selected text or items to the clipboard.
- CONTROL+V: ***Braille_Control_V
- Paste from clipboard
This command pastes the clipboard contents to the position of the
Using Virtual Mouse Device
***sr has the ability to emulate the mouse device by using keyboard. You have
so the possibility to move the mouse pointer around and to click mouse buttons
on the screen spots you want without any physical contact with a mouse device.
There are two main reasons for blind users to use the virtual mouse:
- If you are a speech-only user you have to switch to the Follow-Mouse Mode
to explore and/or read windows without cursor such as for example in some
flowers of the Windows Help System.
- In many applications there are commands and options unavailable through
the menu system which you can activate only by clicking on a corresponding
button. One example for this behavior is choosing between Normal and HTML
view in Microsoft FrontPage.
Different Screen Readers use different names for the Follow-Mouse Mode.
***sr calls it Jaws Cursor on the
contrary to normal state of following the cursor or focus (in Jaws terminology
named PC Cursor).
***sr calls it Navigation Mode.
- Follow-Mouse Mode On: ***Mouse_Mode_On
- Follow-Mouse Mode Off: ***Mouse_Mode_Off
- Restrict Mouse to Window (Toggle): ***Restrict_Mouse_to_Window
- With this command you can forbid the mouse pointer to leave the active
window. After doing it you can move the mouse only inside the borders of the
- Left Mouse Button Click: ***Left_Mouse_Button_Click
- Left Mouse Button Double Click: ***Left_Mouse_Button_Double_Click
- Right Mouse Button Click: ***Right_Mouse_Button_Click
- Route Mouse to Cursor: ***Mouse_To_Focus
- Use this command when you will get the mouse pointer to the focus position
to click there. You need it usually to activate the context menu (right mouse
Combining Speech and Braille
The best results in interfacing with your computer you can accomplish by
using speech output and Braille display at the same time. It depends often on
your working environment whether you can afford it or not. In an office where
you are not alone, you had to put on the headphones to use the speech. Because of it
many people prefer to work there Braille-only.
If you are in the lucky position to freely use both kinds of ***sr output,
think about the following recommendations.
- Use speech output to read long text passages where you have not to care
about mathematical formulas or program code which must be meticulous.
- Let you support from the speech in situations such as Find and/or Replace dialog in Word,
where multiple areas
on the screen contain at the same time important information.
- Use Braille to fast check the
correctness of your writing at times you perceive that you made a mistake.
- Use the keys on the ***bd panel to
hear some important information without moving the Braille segment away from
its current screen position.