Navigating the computer can be a challenging task at the best of times, but imagine the challenge if you couldn’t see the screen! A screen reader such as JAWS by Freedom Scientific is an absolute necessity for students who are blind. It allows the user to access the computer through keyboard commands with JAWS. The program assists the user in knowing where they are on the computer screen by reading menus, dialog boxes, files and screen content out loud. As a result, JAWS provides a set of tools that allows students to access their computer files, the internet, complete word processing assignments and more.
On November 30th a group of teachers of students with visual impairments, general education teachers and educational assistants from across the Lower Mainland came together to learn JAWS. Each participant came with the goal of better supporting their students using computers with JAWS screen reading software.
The group was challenged to go “mouseless” by workshop facilitator Flo Wong (Provincial SET-BC Consultant and Vision Teacher). Participants learned the necessary Windows keyboard commands to access various areas of their computers, open files, navigate the internet and much more. In addition, the group was led through discussions focused on JAWS settings and file management.
The group was excited to have access to this hands-on workshop opportunity and challenged to complete accessing computer programs using only keyboard commands and voiceover narration. By the end of the morning, however, all participants were happily helping each other to navigate the windows environment “mouselessly”. SET-BC consultants are looking forward to working with vision support staff with more training opportunities designed to build on the knowledge and skills gained on this training day.