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What's New in JAWS 2020 Public Beta

Thank you for participating in the JAWS 2020 public beta testing. This page provides all the necessary details that you need to know and at the end of the page, you will find links to download JAWS 2020 Beta now. Please take a few moments to review this information and take advantage of the beta report form link to provide Freedom Scientific your feedback during the public beta.

Quick Notes About the Public Beta

Thank you for your help during the public beta period. Please note that this is beta software, and its accuracy and reliability are not guaranteed. You should not rely exclusively on the beta software for any reason.

  • This JAWS 2020 public beta is available in English, Spanish, German, French, French Canadian, Dutch, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Danish, Hungarian, Swedish, Italian, Norwegian, and Finnish.
  • Please note that while the final release of JAWS 2020 will be a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) upgrade, this public beta version will run for anyone with a license that provides access to JAWS or Fusion 2019.
  • If you do not have JAWS or Fusion 2019 authorization, you can still install the public beta version and run it using 40-Minute Demo mode.
  • This public beta version will expire later this year. To use JAWS without interruption, you must continue to update to later versions of the public beta and then to the final release.
  • You do not have to remove earlier versions of JAWS to install the JAWS 2020 public beta. Your previous versions will continue to function when you have JAWS 2020 installed, just as each new major version release of JAWS has in the past.
  • Migrating user settings from a prior version of JAWS should work correctly after installing the JAWS 2020 public beta. If you do experience any issues with migrating settings, reboot your computer, start JAWS 2020, and try the migrate process again. To migrate settings at any time, press INSERT+J to open the JAWS window, open the Utilities menu, expand the Import/Export submenu, and choose Migrate Settings.

Technical Support During the Public Beta

While in public beta, general technical support of JAWS 2020 is not available using our direct support phone lines or email. However, you may use normal support lines in order to resolve any problems you experience related to installation or authorization using the Public Beta. For all other issues you may discover, we ask that you send feedback directly to Freedom Scientific using the JAWS 2020 Beta Report Form web page. Please bookmark the report page in your web browser so that you can easily locate it if you need technical assistance. Also, please submit one problem per report.

If reporting issues with Microsoft Office, please include the full version number. For example, 16.0.10730.20102. To locate this information, press ALT+F, D, A from within Office.

New Features Added in JAWS 2020

The following features are new to JAWS 2020.

Reduced Double Speaking of Form Control Prompts

When navigating and filling out forms on the web, it has become increasingly common for web page authors to include the prompt inside the control in addition to assigning an accessible Tag for the control. While non-screen reader users only see the written prompt, those using a screen reader are getting both the Prompt and accessible Tag in Speech as well as Braille if a display is in use. Often times, the web page author has assigned the same text for each, so it appears the screen reader is double speaking. In JAWS 2020, we have greatly reduced the amount of double speaking of form controls as you navigate using speech and Braille by comparing the prompt and these tags, and only speaking or brailling them both if they are different.

Zoom Meeting Scripts Added for an Improved Experience

Thanks to Hartgen Consulting, basic scripts for Zoom are now included directly in JAWS and Fusion to improve the experience when attending Zoom Meetings. This platform is used for our quarterly FS Open Line program as well as the free training webinars we hold each month. These scripts offer a more pleasant experience by giving more control over what you hear, without interrupting the flow as users enter or leave the room or make comments. Press INSERT+H to view a list of JAWS keystrokes available in Zoom such as turning off alerts, speaking recent chat messages, and more. You can also press INSERT+W to view a list of Zoom hot keys.

Hartgen Consultancy also offers more advanced scripts for Zoom Pro if you are interested.

Enhanced JAWS and Invisible Cursor Support for Windows 10 Universal Apps

For years, JAWS users have relied on the JAWS cursor (NUM PAD MINUS) and Invisible cursor (NUM PAD MINUS twice quickly) to review and interact with areas in an application where the PC cursor cannot go. This includes reading textual information which is on-screen but not focusable, and interacting with controls which are only accessible using a mouse as the mouse pointer will follow the JAWS cursor and NUM PAD SLASH and NUM PAD STAR will perform a left and right click. However, the Off-Screen Model (OSM) which has traditionally been used to support the JAWS and Invisible cursors is becoming less and less available as newer technology such as UIA, found especially in Windows universal apps like the calculator or the Windows Store, is now being used exclusively for accessing screen content. This results in the JAWS and Invisible cursors becoming unusable when attempting to navigate in those windows. All you would hear in those cases was "blank" as you reviewed the screen. This is because the modern technology currently in use is not able to be captured by the traditional Off-Screen Model. In those cases, the only solution was using the Touch Cursor, something most users are not as familiar with.

JAWS 2020 now detects when focus is in an application where the OSM is not supported and will automatically use the new JAWS Scan cursor in these situations. You will use all of the same navigation commands as you would with the traditional JAWS cursor or the Invisible cursors.

For example, if you open the Calculator or Windows Store in JAWS 2020 and press NUM PAD MINUS, you will now hear JAWS announce "JAWS Scan Cursor" as these are apps that do not support the OSM. You can then use the ARROW keys like you always have done to move by character, word, line, as well as INSERT+UP ARROW to read the current line, or PAGE UP, PAGE DOWN, HOME, and END. The mouse pointer will also continue to follow as it always has. The only difference is that the cursor does not move from top to bottom or left to right. Instead, it moves by element the way the developer laid out the app.

While this works in many places, there are still some areas where more work by Freedom Scientific is required. For instance, if you use Office 365, and try to read your Account version information with the JAWS cursor commands, it is still not possible to navigate and read in these places. That work is underway and we plan to have an update for this area in the 2020 version soon. Stay tuned.

Convenient OCR Updated to Use the Latest OmniPage

The recognition engine used by the JAWS Convenient OCR feature has been updated to Kofax OmniPage 20, formerly owned by Nuance. This offers greater accuracy when recognizing the text from on-screen images as well as text from images captured with a PEARL camera or scanner.

For users needing to OCR using Hebrew or Arabic, these languages will be included in later public beta builds or by the final release at the latest. Once these languages are working, they will be installed with any English or Western European download of JAWS and Fusion.

Virtual Cursor Toggle Now Tab Specific in Google Chrome

Today, there are many web apps where using the Virtual Cursor is not the best approach. An example of this can be seen if you use Gmail in the Chrome Browser. In these cases, it makes sense to toggle the Virtual Cursor off by pressing INSERT+Z and then use this application with the PC cursor. Many users also regularly open multiple tabs (CTRL+T) so they can easily access different sites such as GMail plus one or two other pages by moving between the open tabs using CTRL+TAB. This can become frustrating as you need to constantly press INSERT+Z to get the right cursor in use as you switch between tabs.

Beginning with version 2020, we are introducing an option to help JAWS automatically remember the state of the Virtual Cursor for each tab once you set it. It will also announce whether the Virtual Cursor is on or off as you move between various tabs. Once you close the browser, or restart JAWS, it will default back to its default behavior so you will need to set this each day as you use it.

This feature is turned on by default. To toggle this option, do the following:

  1. Press INSERT+6 to open Settings Center.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the default file.
  3. Type "Tab" in the search field.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW until you locate "Virtual Cursor On/Off based on Browser Tabs."
  5. Press the SPACEBAR to change the option and then select OK.

Contracted Braille Input Enhancements

For ElBraille users as well as those who regularly use a Braille display with their PC, JAWS 2020 offers significant improvements when typing in contracted Braille. In particular:

  • You should now be able to enter and edit text in numbered and bulleted lists in Word, WordPad, Outlook, and Windows Mail.
  • Contracted Braille input is now supported in more applications including PowerPoint and TextPad.
  • Improved Contracted Braille input in WordPad, especially when editing a numbered or bulleted list created in Word and opened in Wordpad. This includes properly handling wrapped items which previously showed the number or bullet on subsequent wrapped lines, rather than indenting the text.
  • Improved Contracted Braille input in Chrome, Google docs, and other online editors which can create bulleted and numbered lists.
  • Typing rapidly using Contracted Braille in Microsoft Office as well as other applications should no longer result in text becoming scrambled.

General Changes in Response to Customer Requests

  • While browsing the internet, JAWS will no longer announce "Clickable" by default as you move to various content.
  • You should no longer hear the message "Press JAWS Key+ALT+R to hear descriptive text" as you navigate form controls and certain other elements on the web.
  • By default in Word and Outlook, JAWS will no longer announce "Alt SHIFT F10 to adjust Auto Correction" when you move to something that was auto corrected previously.
  • JAWS and Fusion will no longer gather and announce the count of all the objects, misspellings, grammatical errors, and so on when a document is opened in Word. This will enable documents to load much faster, including very large documents containing a lot of these items. You can always press INSERT+F1 for an overview of what the document contains.
  • Improved responsiveness when closing Word after saving a document.
  • The AutoCorrect Detection option, previously only available in the Quick Settings for Word, can now also be changed in the Quick Settings for Outlook (INSERT+V).

Enhancements in JAWS 2020 Public Beta 3

The following is a list of improvements made between Public Beta 2 and Public Beta 3. Note that while many customer-reported enhancements are included in this release, the following is a list of more notable changes.

Updated BraillePen Display Driver

Added an updated driver from Harpo in Poland to support their New BraillePen 14 Braille device in addition to the previously supported BraillePen 12T. Now, all models are supported by this driver.

Other Changes

  • The new "Virtual Cursor On/Off based on Browser Tabs" option in Settings Center is now turned on by default.
  • JAWS now announces the currently selected menu in Google Docs when you activate a menu or use LEFT and RIGHT ARROW to move between menus.
  • JAWS now indicates list items markers in Google Docs. For example, if your document contains a numbered list, you should hear "1, 2, 3," and so on as you navigate the list.
  • Resolved a customer reported issue where JAWS stopped responding when moving over a link in a Word document and a Braille display was connected.
  • In Adobe Reader, when moving between pages in a document , addressed a customer reported issue where JAWS was skipping the first line of the new page.

Enhancements in JAWS 2020 Public Beta 2

The following is a list of improvements made between the first Public Beta and Public Beta 2. Note that while many customer-reported enhancements are included in this release, the following is a list of more notable changes.

IMPORTANT: Norwegian and Finnish users must uninstall Public Beta 1 before installing Public Beta 2. It is not necessary to remove user settings or shared components. Due to significant changes for these languages, Public Beta 2 cannot be installed as an update.

Updated JAWS Basic Training

The JAWS Basic Training has been updated to include the latest features in JAWS 2020. There will still be the same nine books, however each book has been reorganized to be more task oriented as well as simplified to apply to more people in more situations. For instance, in the JAWS User Interface and Utilities book, we won't be trying to show everything in the UI as we did in the past. Instead, we point out the most important things and where to find them in both the menus and in the Utilities folder. This makes it easier for teachers, instructors, IT professionals, etc. to get an overview of where to find things quickly.

To update a book, do the following:

  1. Press INSERT+J to open the JAWS application window.
  2. Press ALT+H to choose the Help menu, and then press ENTER to choose Training.
  3. FSReader opens and displays the JAWS Training Table of Contents which contains links to all of the available DAISY training books. Use the ARROW keys to navigate to the book you want to open and then press ENTER. If the book is not currently on your computer or an updated book is available, FSReader will automatically download and install it.
  4. Repeat this process for each book you want to download.

Toggle JAWS Sounds in Speech On Demand

Introduced in JAWS and Fusion 2018, Speech On Demand allows you to limit the amount of JAWS speech you hear as you navigate windows and documents or perform other actions using hot keys and is activated using a convenient layered keystroke (INSERT+SPACEBAR followed by S). For JAWS users who rely heavily on Braille or for users of Fusion that can see well enough to use the screen for tracking focus, too much speech can be overwhelming while navigating using the keyboard and mouse. By default, when using Speech On Demand, JAWS only announces actions for a limited set of screen reading keystrokes such as reading the current character, word, line, window title, and so on. Windows navigation commands such as moving to the next or previous character, line, or word do not speak. Refer to the Speech On Demand topic in the JAWS help for a full list of commands that provide speech in this mode.

JAWS and Fusion 2020 now allow you to specify whether or not JAWS generated sounds are heard when Speech On Demand is active. JAWS sounds include the sound heard when pressing INSERT+SPACEBAR to perform a layered keystroke as well as the sound heard when completing an address in Outlook. By default, JAWS sounds will continue to be heard. If you do not want to hear JAWS sounds when Speech On Demand is active or when speech is completely muted, open Settings Center, expand the Speech Options group, and clear the "Play JAWS Sounds" check box. You can customize other Speech On Demand settings in this group as well.

Filter Control Characters in Braille

Depending on the application you are using, control characters may be used to represent certain document elements like page breaks or line breaks. JAWS now allows you to configure whether or not these control characters are shown on the Braille display. By default, JAWS does not output these control characters in Braille to help provide a smoother reading experience. However, there may be times when having control characters displayed in Braille could be helpful when editing text.

To display control characters in Braille, open Settings Center, expand Text Processing, expand, Proofing, and clear the "Filter Control Characters such as Page Breaks" check box. Control characters will be displayed correctly for both Computer Braille and Contracted Braille output.

Other Changes

  • Resolved a reported issue in Chrome where JAWS was saying "blank" when encountering braces in edit fields.
  • Removed extraneous "Insert F1 Help" announcements that were heard when navigating through various controls on the web.
  • When doing a Say All on a web page in Chrome, resolved an issue where the visual highlight was losing its position if the window scrolled.
  • Resolved a reported issue where table navigation was not working as expected in Internet Explorer.
  • Pressing INSERT+W while focused in PowerPoint now displays a list of useful PowerPoint hot keys.
  • Addressed issues with routing the JAWS or Invisible Scan cursor to the PC cursor location in a universal app.
  • Resolved an issue where JAWS was not indicating non-breaking spaces in text.
  • Addressed a reported issue with the Hungarian version of JAWS where "unknown function calls" were occuring when attempting to navigate in list views and a Braille display was connected.

Download JAWS 2020

Note: You will need an Internet connection during the JAWS install.

  1. Using the link at the end of this procedure, download and save the JAWS setup file to a location on your computer where you can easily find it, for example, your Downloads folder.
  2. Run the executable and follow the instructions to install JAWS. The setup automatically detects whether you are using 64 or 32-bit and also installs the correct language that matches your operating system language. If this is a new installation, you can install a different language by selecting the Options button on the first setup screen and then choosing the language you want from the list.

For system administrators, use the Offline Installer for Secure Environments page to download a version of JAWS for installing on computers with restricted Internet access.