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A screen reader is an assistive technology that helps people with disabilities such as blindness, vision impairment, and low vision. The screen reader renders the various webpage elements like the text, buttons, and images as speech and braille output. There are various types of screen readers for different environments. As one of the leading accessibility testing companies, we make it a point to familiarize ourselves with all the top tools. And JAWS is definitely one of the best options out there. So in this JAWS Testing Tutorial, we will be exploring the important JAWS Hotkeys and have a step-by-step guide to get started with JAWS for testing purposes.
Did You Know?
JAWS was created by Ted Henter in 1989 who is a former motorcyclist who lost his eyesight due to a fatal car accident in 1978.
Jaws (Job Access With Speech) is the most popular screen-reading tool available in the market. It can be used to read the content in documents, web apps, emails, eBooks, and so on. It is available in over 10 different languages and has multilingual Eloquence & Vocalizer expressive synthesizers that enhance the overall experience. It helps a visually disabled user to read the content by just using the standard keys, has skim-reading capabilities, and has screen magnification options that make it a complete package. So, we can use JAWS without any second thoughts to ensure that the web pages have been designed according to the accessibility norms and regulations.
How to Install JAWS?
The installation process we will be covering is for a Windows machine.
- Download the latest version of JAWS from their official website.
- Open the downloaded exe file.
- Click on “YES” in the popup dialog box that appears.
- Click on the checkbox to accept the agreements and click “Install”.
- Once the installation has been completed, close the window and restart the computer when prompted.
Now that we have seen the installation process, let’s take a look at the JAWS Hotkeys you’ll need to know.
JAWS Hotkeys/Keyboard Shortcuts:
|1||Start reading||Insert+down arrow key|
|4||Direct Heading Navigation (H1 to H6)||1 to 6|
|6||To go to main content region||Q|
|8||Data in the table||Ctrl+Shift+right/left/up/down arrow key|
|10||Items in a list||I|
We have listed only the most important JAWS Hotkeys you’ll be needing here. If you can’t find a JAWS keyboard shortcut combination you are looking for or want to explore all the JAWS Hotkeys, kindly use this file.
How to perform JAWS testing?
To test a website using JAWS, you have to open a browser and navigate to the website you’d like to test, and start using JAWS. Though it sounds simple, you might feel lost and not know what to do to get conclusive results. Thanks to our years of experience in providing the best web accessibility testing services to all our clients, we have created this list that will help you get started with JAWS testing.
Being able to access the entire page and understand the content is one of the most basic actions that every user must be able to do. You can check that by navigating the page using the TAB key to ensure that all interactive elements receive tab focus. Also, verify if non-interactive elements don’t receive tab focus. Check if the focus order is from left to right or right to left.
Just like how we try to skim through the article by seeing the headings to get an idea, people using JAWS should also be able to do that. Since the screen readers can’t convey the visual representation, make sure to check the heading tag’s flow as if it is not in order from H1 to H6.
Once you’ve checked that, move down the page using the down arrow key and observe if all the content is read properly in a meaningful sequence without any repetitions or sections getting skipped. You also have to make sure that everything works well when going back to the previous lines using the up arrow key.
Multimedia Content Alternatives
Websites don’t shy away from using various multimedia content like photos, videos, and so on to make an impact. As a first step, verify if all the images receive focus. If they do, check the alt text (alternative text) and see if it is relevant and if it describes the image well enough.
Videos that have voiceovers or dialogues will not be much of an issue as it can be understood by listening to the audio. But if the video has burnt in the text without any voice-over, then you have to make sure to add a transcript that can be read by JAWS for the user to understand. Likewise, if the video is entirely visual, you can add an audio description to make it possible for the user to get at least an idea. It is recommended to not have videos auto-play when the site is opened. So it must be possible to control the playback of the videos using your keyboard.
Videos that have voiceovers or dialogues will cause much of an issue as it can be understood by listening to the audio. But if the video has burnt in the text without any voice-over, you have to make sure to add a transcript that can be read by JAWS for the user to understand. Likewise, if the video is entirely reliant on the visual, you can add an audio description to make it possible for the user to get at least an idea. It is recommended to not have videos auto-play when the site is opened. So it must be possible to control the playback of the videos using your keyboard.
Other Content Types
Internal and external links are very common on all web pages. So ensure that the change of context is clear and avoid vague lines like ‘Click Here’ or ‘Read More’ out of nowhere.
If there are any lists on the webpage, then it will be read properly only if the content has been fed as an ordered or unordered list. Likewise, if there are any tables, you should check if JAWS reads all the content with the respective rows and columns using standard keys.
Check if the table row and column headers are read out for each table cell to make it easy to understand. Verify if all form fields, links, and buttons are accessible when using the space/enter key.
Avoid Visual Reliance
It’s a common practice to make certain words, phrases, or even lines appear bold to emphasize their importance. But since they are only visual cues, they will not be picked up by the screen reader. So make sure to use ‘strong’ and ’em’ tags when needed. The same applies to any color variations used for the same purpose.
Yes, Captcha is an important feature in a website. But that doesn’t mean you have to use only visual options as it will not be possible for JAWS to pick it up.
Though flashy signs and calls to action are of the past and can no longer be found on many websites, it is still important to check for them. JAWS will have a tough time if an image with the words download is hovering over a vague hyperlink text like ‘Click Here’.
General JAWS Testing Checks
- Make sure if your page has a bypass block, the main content, and a landmark region.
- Verify if all the ARIA attributes have been implemented properly.
- Ensure that there are no black hat SEO techniques such as using hidden text to boost ranking as it will disrupt JAWS.
- Check if all the content is in a single language and if there are any different languages used, do mention it in your code to avoid confusion. It is also a good practice to use a language attribute to mention the language.
We hope you have found this JAWS Testing Tutorial and the JAWS Hotkeys to be helpful and now have an idea of how to test your website’s accessibility by using JAWS. You can even check out our blog that explains how you can easily test your website for accessibility. Though those easy checks will not be enough, it is always good to get started as you yield the twin benefits of fulfilling a person with disabilities their right to information and reaching a wider audience.