Think of Netscape, Lotus 1-2-3, MS-DOS… Back in 1995, these applications were hot, but how many people still remember them? In that year, another program was released: Job Access With Speech (JAWS). That program, however, is still going strong, JAWS 2018 having been released in October 2017. In fact, it is the most popular screen reader worldwide. A screen reader is a piece of assistive technology for blind and visually impaired individuals. The program “translates” text and graphics on a computer screen to an output device, such as text to speech or a special braille keyboard, one in which the little raised dots are refreshed, raised as the content is read. JAWS is a product of Freedom Scientific, a company based in Saint Petersburg, Florida.
JAWS enables blind and visually impaired users to navigate the Internet, write a document, create spreadsheets and presentations, and correspond by e-mail. The program is compatible with a host of input/output devices Freedom Scientific, including the Focus 14, 40, and 80 line of refreshable braille displays, MAGic large-print keyboard and screen-magnification software, and the company’s various other magnifiers, such as ZoomText Fusion and OpenBook.
Several of our blind and low-vision clients have benefitted from JAWS. Wayne K. now runs his own concession stand business. Like Wayne, Steve R. loves to be active while maintaining his antiques business. Steve also uses ZoomText. And Tyion L., a high school student, is succeeding in school, with the aid of his Focus 40 keyboard.
JAWS has been around for a while. However, with frequent updates and its compatibility with other Freedom Scientific hardware and software, JAWS keeps up with ever-quicker technological progress, affording people like Wayne, Steve, Tyion, and thousands of blind and visually impaired users around the world the independence to pursue what they love to do.