JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a screen reader that enables people with blindness or other vision impairments (e.g., low vision) to access different forms of digital content. Developed by Freedom Scientific in 1995, JAWS currently ranks as the most popular screen reader in the world, providing assistance to those who have difficulty reading content on a computer. Through a speech synthesizer or a refreshable braille display, JAWS outputs various types of content, such as text, images, links, icons, menus, and applications, into audio or braille formats.
The information presented within this glossary entry is aimed at website owners seeking to learn the ropes of web accessibility. Technical elements are described in layman’s terms, and, as a rule, all topics pertaining to the legalities of web accessibility are presented in as simplified a manner as possible. This guide has no legal bearing, and cannot be relied on in the case of litigation.
JAWS: an overview
After uploading the JAWS software onto a computer, JAWS users can get started by positioning the cursor on the exact point where they want JAWS to start reading, or by using specific keyboard commands outlined in the JAWS training center.
With JAWS, users are able to:
- Access content from emails, documents (including PDFs), applications, and websites in audio or braille
- Listen to text in their language of choice via two multilingual synthesizers
- Make customizable adjustments on almost every component of its software
- Quickly review a document using the ‘skim reading’ feature
- Read braille in various display options
As a software program, JAWS offers different subscription options tailored to domestic, school, and business use cases and requirements.
Easy-to-navigate menus and controls
Jaws incorporates Navigation Quick Keys to enable accelerated keyboard navigation.
Adjustable text-to-speech feature
This feature takes text and converts it to speech. Users can customize the pitch, speed, and volume of the voice output.
Advanced Braille display support
Braille display allows users to consume digital content from a PC, Mac, smartphone, iPad, or tablet. The Braille display solutions are also designed to provide an optimal user experience for greater efficiency.
Comprehensive tutorial and user guide
JAWS provides basic training to help users get started. Users can download the training in audio or text formats and access it at their own convenience.
Customizable user interface
JAWS’ user interface enables customization of all features to fit users' individual needs. For example, there are options to adjust speech, sound, cursor, mouse, and Braille settings.
JAWS can assist users in their language of choice. Language options include English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish.
JAWS incorporates a series of instructions, known as a script, to ensure seamless compatibility with third-party integrations. This means that JAWS can integrate with other hardware and software programs, including:
- Web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge
- Productivity software such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and Google Docs
- Braille displays that allow users to consume digital content in Braille format