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In the blind and visually impaired community the adaptive technology market is in heated competition. This is even more so with the rise of accessible mainstream technology slowly making it’s way into global adoption alongside open source efforts that are making computers and devices accessible

Freedom Scientific, one of the big players in this competitive market have released JAWS, or Job Access With Speech, 17, which has a whole host of web enhancements inline with the shift from hard drive use to cloud and web app usage.

In a recent podcast released by Freedom Scientific the host, Jonathan Mosen, details some features that didn’t make it into the press release, such as the change in the Focus Mode sound.

This update holds some key features that focus on web navigation and braille. One of the features is Smart Navigation™, a feature that Freedom Scientific says is a more efficient way to interact with complex web pages and web apps, though the press release doesn’t detail exactly how it’s more efficient. The Fscast episode 115 details the use of this new smart navigation function. From listening to the demonstration, smart navigation is a setting that will allow JAWS to be controlled via the arrow keys in complex tables that have a lot of elements with fewer keystrokes and more information. In the demonstration, the host navigated a table with just the arrow keys after entering an easier to read table view. This update, however, is very similar to the free NVDA add on Easy Table Navigator for the free screen reader.

Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management, briefly detailed another function of smart navigation in a candid statement within the press release, “The ability to move through tables using just the arrow keys, or to skip past an entire menu bar with a single down arrow, are just two examples of how this will benefit users. Add the capability to script for products such as SharePoint, and JAWS further expands the employment opportunities for visually impaired people worldwide.”

This update also boasts domain-specific scripting, bringing the power of JAWS scripting to the web and web apps. It also includes a Liblouis Braille Translator enhancing usage with Unified English Braille

The JAWS 17 upgrade is an SMA release and can be downloaded as either a 32- or 64-bit version from the JAWS downloads web page. DVD shipments to SMA holders and new product customers will commence on November 2, 2015.


Robert Kingett

Robert Kingett is a blind journalist in Chicago who is the author of Off the Grid, living blindly without the Internet. He has been gaming ever since he picked up his first Atari back in 1990. he actively makes a living writing for various blogs and websites with the occasional guest post. He is also an advocate, encouraging education about video game accessibility on mainstream gaming publications