JAWS may sound like something out of Hollywood, yet it’s the world’s most popular screen reader on the market today. According to a survey by WebAIM in 2017, 46.6% of participants named it their primary screen reader while 66% admitted to using it frequently. But why? What makes the JAWS Screen Reader sit at the top of the list?
Read on as we explore everything you need to know about this useful piece of accessible technology.
What is the JAWS Screen Reader?
A Windows-based screen reading software, JAWS stands for “Job Access with Speech”. It’s an accessibility software that assists blind or low vision users by audibly speaking or displaying in Braille the content and actions on the screen. A product created by Freedom Scientific, the software is able to translate content via both text-to-speech or a refreshable Braille display.
It first hit the market in 1989 for MS-DOS before adapting to every version of the Windows operating system. However, while it wasn’t the only screen reader on the market, JAWS has managed to set itself apart from the beginning.
The first model featured macros gave users the ability to customize the program to suit different applications. Since then, the program has kept with that trend by adapting its design to work with various applications and languages.
Currently, JAWS is available for purchase in 50 different countries and in 30 different languages.
The JAWS Screen Reader Offers a Vast Library of Features
JAWS boasts of a long list of basic and advanced features perfect for personal and professional use, including:
- Vocal Installation
- Multilingual Eloquence and Vocalizer Expressive Synthesizers
- Compatibility with Multiple Everyday Programs, Including Microsoft Office, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Others
- Compatibility with Touch Screens and Gestures
- Free DAISY Player and DAISY Training Materials Built Into the Program
- Image Access for Images with Text Through Convenient OCR
- Skim Reading Capabilities
- Exclusive Ability to Provide Contracted Braille Input From Braille Keyboards
- MAGic Screen Magnification
- Openbook Scanning and Reading
- JAWS Tandem for Support and Training
- Citrix, Terminal Services, and Remote Desktop Capabilities
- Customizable User Experiences on Applications Through Scripting
- And More
For active computer users or those who depend on desktops for their daily life or work find JAWS to have everything they need for both basic and advanced screen-reading tasks.
Are There Any Drawbacks to the JAWS Screen Reader?
JAWS is a comprehensive program, but with a large repertoire of capabilities comes a learning curve. Expect to have patience and use the resources provided if you want to get the most out of the software.
The program comes with extensive learning resources, including documentation and customer assistance should you need live help to overcome any challenges. If you have the patience or if you need a powerful screen reader to use for complex projects or in a professional setting, JAWS will likely meet your expectations.
At a price, of course. This software currently retails at $838.00 GBP, or $1,077.96 USD. While many pieces of accessible technology come at a steep price, the JAWS screen reader, although popular, remains at the higher end of the price range compared to its competition.
Is it worth it? The large community using the software testifies to that, but don’t just assume it’s the right choice. Do your research by exploring other screen reader options on the market and compare what they have to offer with this popular accessibility option.
The right product will always be the one that meets your everyday needs.