FSCast #231 FSOpenLine

May, 2023

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Hello, and thank you for joining us for FSOpenLine, Freedom Scientific’s Global Q&A.  Before we get started introducing you to our colleagues and our very special guest, let’s do a couple of housekeeping items.  There are several ways you could be listening right now.  The only ways you can ask questions, if you are on the Zoom platform or on the Clubhouse platform.  So if you’re listening via one of our livestreams, either YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook, you can’t ask questions that way.  You can only listen.  But if you are on Clubhouse or Zoom, and you’d like to ask questions, you can do that by raising your hand on Zoom with ALT+Y (Yankee) on a desktop, and we will call on you.  Until then, please stay muted.  Same on Clubhouse, except for you will just double tap the Raise Hand button when it’s time, and we’ll call on you in as fast of a fashion as we can get questions answered.

So with all those little details out of the way, let’s get right into it.  My colleagues here are our VP of software, Ryan Jones; Glen Gordon, our software fellow; and our very special guest, one of our senior software engineers for JAWS and also, like the rest of us, a JAWS user, we have Brett Lewis, who’s joining us.

RYAN JONES:  Thank you, Rachel.  It’s good to be back, everybody, Glen, Brett.  So good evening.  Glad to be here.

GLEN GORDON:  It is a good evening.


GLEN GORDON:  And it bodes well because, unlike the last couple of FSOpenLines, I wasn’t panicking till the very last moment.  So I’m in this great zen state.

RYAN JONES:  Yeah, it feels smooth.  I think the fun thing is, you know, normally it’s very quiet at my home office, and today someone is sawing outside my window.  So we’ll find out through this episode how good the filtering is of Zoom.  Brett, thanks for being on.  We asked you to join.  We have a couple of things we want to have you talk about, but I think thanks for being here tonight with us.

BRETT LEWIS:  Well, no, thanks for having me.  I, you know, as mentioned earlier, I’m definitely a long-term JAWS user.  I’ve been around Vispero and its various incarnations over the last 17 or 18 years, I guess, altogether, with a few absences in there.  But really glad to be here on FSOpenLine.

RYAN JONES:  Excellent.  Well, Glen, how do you want to kick things off this evening?

GLEN GORDON:  Well, let’s kick it off with you, actually.  We’re about to come out with our June update, the first week in June, and I think you had some thoughts about that.

RYAN JONES:  I want to introduce something that we’ll be releasing in this update called Message Center.  And this is one that I’ve been excited about for a long time.  The problem that we’re trying to solve is that for those of our users who are not aware or capable of going out and finding information that we publish on our different feeds, whether it’s our website or social media or blog posts, Message Center is going to allow us to push information to our products.  Whether it’s JAWS, whether it’s ZoomText or Fusion, we will have, basically, think of it like an inbox that will be in the product.  It’s a one-way street, so you can’t write us back on those messages necessarily, but we’ll be able to communicate a variety of different things.

So, for example, the FSCast notification that many of you are used to when FSCast comes out every month, that will go into Message Center now.  We will be able to post messages about certain tips and tricks that we want to push out, things that we think will be helpful to you being successful using JAWS.  We’ll be able to push out information about training opportunities that are upcoming, or special notes, or critical announcements.

So I’ll give you a good example.  Last fall, there was an issue that came up with Google that was around accessing certain controls with the keyboard.  And if you pressed ENTER on certain things, the context menu would open up instead of the actual button or link, and that was causing a lot of issues for folks.  And so we were trying to tell people, you know, Google’s working on this.  Until they get it fixed, try to maybe not update Chrome, for example.  And so we were doing this through email and social media.  But with this Message Center we’ll be able to actually push an announcement straight to the product, whether it’s JAWS or ZoomText or Fusion.

And the really cool thing is we can limit the notifications based on certain criteria.  So for example, if it’s something about ZoomText, we won’t send it to JAWS users.  If it’s something about JAWS, we’ll only send it to JAWS.  If it’s an announcement or information that’s just relevant to ZoomText, we’ll only send it to ZoomText.  And we’ll be able to target those messages or narrow them down, and even by language, as well.  So when we send out English notifications, they’ll go to people using the English version of the products, but the English message won’t go to people using the Spanish version of the product or the French version.  So we’ll be able to localize messages and target those appropriate languages.

Now, when we start this initial rollout that’ll be in June, we will be starting with English and Dutch.  So if you’re using the English version of JAWS, you will start getting messages over the summer; or, if you’re using the Dutch version of JAWS, you’ll start getting messages that will be in Dutch.  And then we’re going to roll this out to other languages as we get into the fall, into the 2024 release.  So if you happen to be using the Spanish version of JAWS, or the German version, or the French version, for example, don’t be alarmed.  You won’t see Message Center quite yet, but we will turn it on for those languages over the coming months as we get everything worked out and going.  So this is one that I’m really looking forward to, and we want to get feedback on it as we go forward.

GLEN GORDON:  Can I just jump in with one additional Message Center detail?  And that is that there’s a certain amount of configurability on your end.  So you’re not required to receive all the messages that we post.  Now, there’s a certain category of messages like the one that Ryan mentioned about Google last year, where you can’t turn it off.  But things like Tips and Tricks and FSCast Notifications, there’s a configuration possibility for you to turn on the things that you care about and turn off the things that you don’t.

RYAN JONES:  Yeah, and we’ll definitely be doing some training on this.  Rachel and Liz and the team will be doing that over the next weeks.  For any of you who may go to the summer consumer shows, the National Federation of the Blind, American Council of the Blind, I’ll be at both of those, and I’ll be talking about this.  So we’ll be putting out a lot of communication on this over the next several weeks.  Glen, I think you’ve got one you wanted to talk about, as well.

GLEN GORDON:  I do.  For those of you who have Focus braille displays, you probably are well aware of the fact that you don’t have to do any special configuration.  The first time you connect your Focus, either before you launch JAWS or after JAWS is running, it just naturally connects without ever having to add the Focus in the synth and braille manager.  We are bringing that same functionality to other braille displays.

Now, you’ll probably not notice anything different with a version of JAWS that’s already installed on a machine.  But whenever you install a new version, you won’t ever need to worry, at least you won’t generally need to worry, about doing any kind of manual configuration.  If the braille display is connected, either via USB or Bluetooth, at the time JAWS launches, we will just recognize it.  In the case of USB, if you plug it in later, we’ll recognize it.  And Bluetooth, you can optionally turn on Bluetooth detection.  So if the device gets turned on or comes within range, it’ll connect to JAWS, as well.  So this is putting all braille displays on the same level in terms of the auto detection functionality.  And that’s something we’re really excited about.

On the last FSOpenLine back in February, we got several calls about Slack, and people asking questions about what’s the way to most efficiently use Slack with JAWS.  And I completely forgot about the fact that Todd Kloots at Slack and the development team have put together some training materials.  And Brett has firsthand knowledge of these.

BRETT LEWIS:  It was funny because Ryan asked me today to talk about these.  And I went back, and I watched these videos again, and they threw me back to a horrible first day at my previous job.  I started in the first day, and they said, “Oh, by the way, we use Slack for everything here.  It’s just a messaging app.  It’s not hard to use.  You’ll get it down, I’m sure.  Oh, and by the way, there’s 500 messages waiting for you in channels you’re subscribed to.  So if you could answer those, that would be great.”

I thought this was a little overwhelming, actually.  And I didn’t know about these videos at the time.  And they really cover some basic concepts about using Slack that they’re not going to necessarily address complicated things, but what they help you do is introduce you to sort of navigating the Slack interface itself.  So they talk about, for example, how to use F6 to navigate to the different sections of the display.  And they provide some detail about what each section of the display is used for.  So, for instance, as you go through, you’ll land in something called the Primary View, and they make it clear that that’s typically the place where you would actually communicate in one of these channels or via direct messages.

They talk about the workspaces.  You can actually switch different workspaces and so on.  They provide nice examples of using JAWS in all of these different places.  And it really helps you form sort of this conceptual mental model, or at least for me it does, of what Slack is, how it works, and how I want to get where I need to be.  And specifically, as I said, they have a video about the workspace orientation, sort of navigating the workspace with JAWS.

They have a video on how to read your messages and answer your messages, which provides some useful keyboard navigation tips.  And it also provides, again, sort of this conceptual overview of what you might be looking for.  So if you’re in a Slack channel, for instance, they highlight the fact that CTRL+J will move you to the oldest unread message, which can really simplify you getting caught up to where you need to be in that Slack channel, for instance.

And finally, they have a video on how to use threads and sort of, again, conceptually what a thread is; how to navigate into and out of the threads; the fact that the threads exist in this secondary view that you can leave open, so you can navigate between your primary and secondary views and sort of keep up with current ongoing conversations, but maybe something that’s going on in the thread off to the side.

And again, if you’re a longtime Slack user, these probably aren’t the things that are going to introduce you to something new and dramatically life-altering.  But for someone who’s just getting used to Slack and trying to get up to speed with what Slack is and how it functions and, you know, the demands of a new job where you need to actually interact with Slack and use it, I think it provides a real boost to becoming a productive user of Slack.

GLEN GORDON:  I wanted to ask you about one specific thing because people were trying to use Slack with a virtual cursor, and that’s not always the best way to use it; right?

BRETT LEWIS:  It’s not.  And so they – and actually in these videos they provide an instance of how and when you might want to use the virtual cursor.  Specifically, they were highlighting if you’re reading a message that’s long, you can switch into virtual cursor mode, and they tell you how to do it.  You basically just, if you’re in a message, you tab, it turns the virtual cursor on automatically.  You can read line by line, you can then SHIFT+TAB, and it will put you back in the list of messages.  And you can pretty seamlessly, you know, switch back and forth between virtual cursor and application mode, essentially.

And I think struggling to do it in virtual cursor really isn’t the quickest way to do it.  It’s what I tried initially because I thought, oh, these are navigation regions and all this sort of thing; and I can easily navigate among different parts of the screen, you know, treat it like any other sort of webpage.  But Slack has done a remarkably good job of making it a pretty seamless experience if you’re not fighting the way that they’ve tried to implement it.

GLEN GORDON:  So before we take calls, how do people find these training videos?

BRETT LEWIS:  Great question.  The easiest way is to go to YouTube and search on YouTube for “Slack A11y” and the word “JAWS,” and that will bring them up as your hits.  You can also email training@vispero.com and ask for the links directly, and we’ll definitely mail them to you.

GLEN GORDON:  Sounds good.  So shall we take some calls?

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Yes, let’s do it.

RYAN JONES:  Sounds great.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  I’m going to unmute our colleague Mohammed on Zoom.

MOHAMMED:  I think you’re referring to another Mohammed.  This is my first OpenLine.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Oh, this is – oh, welcome, Mohammed.  I thought you were our colleague Mohammed.  I apologize.

GLEN GORDON:  Would you like to be our colleague?

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Yeah, you never know.

MOHAMMED:  I was like, wait, am I a colleague?  Okay, cool.

RACHEL BUCHANAN  You’re like, okay.

RYAN JONES:  Welcome to the team.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Yeah, all right.  Well, why don’t you go ahead with your question?

MOHAMMED:  Sure, I had a couple of questions.  I’ll start with one that has been bothering me for quite a few versions of JAWS, frankly.  Sometimes I open Microsoft Word, or I open – usually it’s a Microsoft application, sometimes it happens in Edge, where I’ll open up the app, and JAWS seems to get stuck and says “Menu Bar.”  And then I can’t get out of it.  I type ESCAPE, nothing seems to happen.  And then so I close Word or the application, and then I reopen it, and it puts me back in this phantom menu bar.  And the only way I found I could get out of something like that is by reloading JAWS.

GLEN GORDON:  Do you have any rhyme or reason to when this happens?

MOHAMMED:  I can’t consistently reproduce it at will, but I noticed that it seems to come up if I press the applications key, like say for instance I’m trying to access – it says like a word is misspelled.  So I press the applications key on the word to get the correct spelling.  And I notice sometimes when I’m in that menu, when I press ENTER or ESCAPE, nothing seems to happen.  And the other instance I’ve noticed it is when I load Microsoft Word, for instance, it just says Microsoft Word, edit.  And then I type DOWN ARROW, or I press the ALT key, and then it just says Menu Bar.  And then I can’t get out of it.

GLEN GORDON:  Wow, have you – anyone on the call seen this sort of on a regular basis?

LIZ WHITAKER:  This is Liz.  Yeah, I have actually seen this in Word quite a bit where it loads, and I can’t arrow around, just like Mohammed, just like you’re saying.  And for me, if I press ALT, it will say Menu Bar, but then I can press ESCAPE to get out of it.  But from what I understand, you’re not able to do that.

MOHAMMED:  Right, right.

RYAN JONES:  I’ve also seen kind of weird behavior like that.  And sometimes I’ve been able to press F6, and that will move focus to some other pane.  So sometimes a different pane has gained focus.  So it may not be the exact issue you’re describing, but F6 could be a possible way to move yourself out of that scenario.

GLEN GORDON:  I’m recording this about a week after FSOpenLine and am pleased to say that we were able to sneak something into the JAWS June update.  If you ever see this problem, ALT+TAB away from the app where you saw it, and ALT+TAB back.  That should at least fix the problem for the moment.  We’ll be working on this more for JAWS 2024.  I realize that’s not a perfect solution, but at least it improves things beyond the way they were.

MOHAMMED:  That’s perfect, thank you.  The other question that I had was specifically around the Phone Link app, which recently allowed iPhones to be connected to it.  The Phone Link app, based on my initial kind of testing with it, is far from perfect.  Like it’s workable, but there’s still quite a few areas where it could use some enhancements.  I’m just wondering whether that was something you guys were looking at, as well, in terms of making it more functional with JAWS.

RYAN JONES:  Yeah, I’ve actually tried this app out myself a little bit because I saw the buzz about it from Microsoft a few months ago.  And I thought, this is a great tool that I can use with my iPhone.  So I’ve been trying it out some.  I noticed some of the things you mentioned.  And it’s on my list for us to talk with Microsoft to kind of understand what their plans are around accessibility with it.  And depending on how that looks, then we may be able to do some scripts or other things.  Basically, the idea for those who aren’t familiar with this, is with the Phone Link app, you can pair your phone or your iPhone, or an Android phone actually, with Windows and use this application in Windows to interact with certain iMessages and things.  So you could type messages from your regular keyboard.  So it could be very handy.

BRETT LEWIS:  I tried it as well, Ryan.  And I had a lot of, I mean, I was able to get it set up and my phone linked and so on.  And then Windows decided that I really didn’t want that feature, and so it decided to unpair me.  And I figured I had way too much to do to pursue it.  But it does really look like a good option.

RYAN JONES:  So you got grounded from your phone, Brett, by Microsoft.

BRETT LEWIS:  I did, I did.

RYAN JONES:  Congratulations.  Yeah, no, thank you, Mohammed.  That’s a great observation.  And it is something that we want to either – we’ll do one of two paths to help get it more accessible because I think it is a great resource for people.

MOHAMMED:  Awesome, thank you so much.

GLEN GORDON:  Thanks, Mohammed.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  All right.  So now for one of our participants on the Clubhouse platform, if Douglas Howard – I’ve invited you to speak, one of our neighbors from the North, our Canadian friend.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  I have the PEARL camera, and I was just wondering, I’ve seen online some USB extensions.  If I plug that in, that won’t harm the webcam in any way; right?

RYAN JONES:  So you’re talking about just a cord that’s a male connection on one end, a female on the other, that just lengthens the distance?

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Yeah, it just extends the distance a little bit.

GLEN GORDON:  I can almost guarantee it won’t harm the camera.  If it’s too long, it’s possible you have some connection issues.  That would be the most likely negative, if there was one.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  It would only be like a three-footer cord, or it wouldn’t be that long.

GLEN GORDON:  I would be shocked.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to pay for the repair, mind you.


GLEN GORDON:  But I would be shocked.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  And my other question was, is I know JAWS sometimes does hang, like I’ll go to click ENTER, and for about maybe five, 10 seconds, it’ll just hang and then start working again.  Sometimes if I click on the Windows menu and go to look up something, it’ll freeze for a certain amount of seconds and then go again.

GLEN GORDON:  What do you mean by the “Windows menu”?

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Oh, sorry, the Start menu.

GLEN GORDON:  Ah, okay.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Sorry, I worded that incorrectly.  So sometimes, yeah, that’ll freeze.  Or I’ll be looking up something really quick, and it’ll kind of sometimes take a minute to catch up.  I don’t know if that’s normal, but...

GLEN GORDON:  I think the problem for those of us internally is if we don’t see it, if we don’t have a repro case, it’s hard to work at it.  But that doesn’t mean it’s right.

RYAN JONES:  I wonder too if the computer’s catching up with something.  Like I’d wonder if these kind of hangs still happen with Narrator, for example.  It might help us to know a little bit more about what’s going on.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  I haven’t really noticed it with Narrator now that you bring that up.  Because I use Narrator, and I have the Narrator and NVDA as backups, just in case when JAWS totally quit or something.  I hope that’s not a sin to you guys.

RYAN JONES:  It’s no problem at all.  It’s good to have options when you need them.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  I love JAWS.  I’ve been using it since 2.0, so.

GLEN GORDON:  Wow, you’ve been around a long time.  You’re losing your hair.



GLEN GORDON:  It was spoken from experience.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  No, it’s true.

RYAN JONES:  Glen’s already lost his, so it’s okay.

GLEN GORDON:  Exactly, exactly.

BRETT LEWIS:  It’s making me lose mine.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  I was 18 then, and I’m 44 now.  So, yeah, there you have it.

GLEN GORDON:  Yeah, okay, cool.  There’ll be more to be pulled out, I assure you.  Just give it a few years.  If you can come up with even one, even one case that’s like, you know, if you say you do it six out of 10 times, and it hangs for those two or three seconds, I cannot tell you how valuable those things are in helping us troubleshoot.


RYAN JONES:  The one time that I’ve seen it for sure is like when I think Teams or Office is updating in the background.  And I don’t know it at the time, but then – so I might notice things start hanging for five minutes or so, over a course of five minutes or so, and then can’t tell what’s going on.  My fan starts to run more.  And then I go over to Office, and it says, “Hey, we’ve updated Office,” or something, so that tells me that something had been happening in the background.  I’m not saying that’s what you’re seeing, Douglas.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Yeah.  No, I get it.

RYAN JONES:  But that is a fairly common scenario.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Well, I do use a Dell computer.  I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it.  It’s a Dell Inspiron 3880.

GLEN GORDON:  Not the 3880.  No, the Dell computers are fine.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Yes, that’s what we use, so.

GLEN GORDON:  Just wanted to scare you.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Yeah, I know, I know.

RYAN JONES:  Douglas, if you can think of, or you find any somewhat repeatable scenario, email us so we can try to dig in a little bit more.

DOUGLAS HOWARD:  Okay, for sure, and thank you.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Douglas.

RYAN JONES:  Thanks.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Switching back to Zoom, Mr. Terrell, your hand is up, and I will ask you to unmute.

TERRELL:  I saw where Paciello Group introduced JAWS for Kiosk, and I believe that runs on Android.  What would be the possibility of JAWS coming to Android as kind of a competitor to TalkBack?  Because if I had an Android device, I would be willing to buy JAWS for Android for, you know, a couple of hundred bucks from the App Store.  And another question in general, have you tried out the new Max, formerly HBO Max, that launched on Tuesday?

RYAN JONES:  Is this HBO Max, the streaming service?

TERRELL:  Yes, mm-hmm.

RYAN JONES:  Okay.  Are you using it on a PC with JAWS?

TERRELL:  I’ve looked at the pages on PC.  I’ve looked at the – I use, you know, other devices, as well.  I’m just curious what your thoughts were, if you’ve had a chance to try it out.

RYAN JONES:  I know I personally have it.  I don’t know if any – Glen, anybody else, have you tried it, have it?

GLEN GORDON:  Me?  You’re asking me if I actually am trying a streaming service?

RYAN JONES:  Well, it’s a fair question.

GLEN GORDON:  Well, yeah, it’s a fair question, if you want “no” as the answer.  Rachel?  Liz?  Ron?  Help me here.

LIZ WHITAKER:  I have it.

RON MILLER:  I’m going to school.  I’m going for my master’s degree.  You think I’m binge-watching anything?

RYAN JONES:  So Terrell, you see the lives that we lead here; right?

TERRELL:  Right.

RYAN JONES:  This is a pretty good commentary on our lives that none of us have time to watch.

LIZ WHITAKER:  I have it, but I haven’t tried it out yet.  Not on a PC.

TERRELL:  Got you, got you.  So, say, what about the JAWS for Android?  What about that?

RYAN JONES:  Yeah, I mean, it’s a question that we’ve thought about.  So for anyone who doesn’t know, the consulting part of our business, TPGI, we have a product in collaboration with them for kiosk accessibility.  That’s a highly, highly modified version of JAWS that can run on Android kiosks.  And the design of it is for narrow, limited-use-case kiosks where you have very narrow flows, workflows; you have certain types of screens, certain types of elements and controls.  And so the general answer is we could make this work for any functionality in Android to be used anywhere.  What we’re researching is the business case for it; right?  I mean, people from an iPhone/Android perspective, those screen readers are built in, and you don’t have to pay extra for them.

So what we have to understand is, would people be willing to pay extra on an Android device to have JAWS in enough to make it worth it so that we can even pay people to keep working on it, for example?  So I would definitely be interested to hear from those who would like to use it.  And that will help us understand how much potential there is out there.  So it sounds like you’re in that court, which is good to know.

TERRELL:  I know that the TV app that I use, which is DirecTV, does work on Android devices.  And so I just thought of that because I thought, well, if TalkBack doesn’t read something, it’d be nice to have another screen reader to switch to that may read that better, or something like that, if that ever came up.

GLEN GORDON:  I think one of the technical challenges we have with that is that it’s not like Windows, where we have access to most everything on the operating system, and we can invent our own ways to get data in some cases.  Android basically hands it out to apps that are accessibility apps, like a screen reader.  And so the information they’re going to hand out to TalkBack is likely the same information as they’re going to hand to us.  Now, we may do a better job of processing that information and conveying it and allowing you to navigate; but if they don’t see anything, it’s probably less likely that we would see something just because it all comes from the same pipe.

TERRELL:  Right, right.  And by the way, I did enjoy your FSCast on audio description.  I think that that was really, really neat.

GLEN GORDON:  Well, thank you.  You know, FSCasts are as good as the guests, and we had really good guests in that instance.  So thank you.

TERRELL:  Yeah, that was nice.  I use that a lot.  So, especially on HBO Max and all that, I found that one to be the most accessible.

RYAN JONES:  Well, it sounds like you at least learned who not to come chat with about the shows you’re watching on HBO Max, since none of us seem to watch anything.

TERRELL:  Right.

RYAN JONES:  Thank you, Terrell.

TERRELL:  You’re welcome.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Back to our Clubhouse platform, and I’ve invited Jeff Bishop to the stage.  Are you there, Jeff?

JEFF BISHOP:  Yes, I am, Rachel.  Thank you.  I have a question.  It concerns WordPress and Gravity Forms.  And I know that this may require some investigation perhaps, although maybe someone’s run into this.  But I use a plugin called Gravity Forms.  And in the Gravity Forms plugin, you can enable on a field-by-field basis conditional logic, which allows you then to show and hide other fields and do specific things based on the conditions that you select.  So you check a box, and then it opens up these other fields.  And then you can make selections in the form, then changes based on these selections.

GLEN GORDON:  So, for instance, if you ask the question, do you use a screen reader or a magnifier, when they choose “screen reader” you can then conditionally show other questions?

JEFF BISHOP:  That’s correct.  So I could say, I only want to see now screen reader questions, or you’re filling out a form, and you want to buy specific things, and you select a specific product.  Then you could just show the accessories that relate to that product, for example.


JEFF BISHOP:  Okay.  The problem is that if you switch to another field, the conditional logic fields remain visible onscreen in the virtual buffer, and I have to physically save the form and then reload the form before those fields will go away.  And I don’t know if that’s because – I think it’s because they’re doing something wrong in the form builder, but I don’t know for sure.

GLEN GORDON:  What’s the experience with Narrator or the other “N” screen reader, in terms of showing this in their virtual buffers?

JEFF BISHOP:  Because of the complexity of this plugin, I found that JAWS seems to work best under these circumstances for me.  So I have not fully tested under both, you know, other screen readers.

GLEN GORDON:  I think it’s worth testing because it’s certainly possible that we’re getting a notification that we’re not properly processing, that the fields have gone away.  And so if you can prove one way or the other, if, you know...

JEFF BISHOP:  I can do that.

GLEN GORDON:  If you see them in one of these other screen readers, and then they go away at the same time, then clearly we’re doing something wrong.

JEFF BISHOP:  Where would you like me to send it?  And I can write up a very, very detailed response to this, as well as steps to replicate the issue and findings with both JAWS and other screen readers.

GLEN GORDON:  Ggordon@vispero.com.  I like hearing from people.

RYAN JONES:  Glen likes a challenge.

JEFF BISHOP:  I just wanted to make sure I followed the right process, that’s all.

RYAN JONES:  There’s not a wrong process.  That’s the good news.  This is a good one, Jeff.  Thank you.  We’ll be interested to see how this plays out.

JEFF BISHOP:  You’re more than welcome.  You’ll hear from me this weekend.  It probably won’t be tomorrow.

RYAN JONES:  Thanks, Jeff.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  All right.  Switching back over to our Zoom questioners, we have Marty.  I should have just asked you to unmute.

MARTY:  How about back to Microsoft Word?  I’m using Office 16, and I don’t have the latest version of JAWS, so this may be fixed.  There may be a whole moot point here.  But I’ve noticed that when I type a document, and I enter a date such as July 21st in a line of text, then when I’m doing a “say all” and trying to read the whole document after I’ve typed it, when JAWS gets to the line above that, it’ll read the line above that and stop.  Then if I hit DOWN ARROW, I hear nothing.  And if I hit DOWN ARROW again, it’ll read the next line.  And then if I do a “say all” from there it’ll continue on, no problem.

And I’ve noticed that it’s with dates that have, like say July 21st, 22nd, and 23rd.  If you put the 24th in, it reads fine.  Anything with a TH after the number, it reads fine.  But if you have ST or RD, it will not read it.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Does it do it every time?

MARTY:  Yeah, it’s pretty consistent.

GLEN GORDON:  What synthesizer?

MARTY:  Well, it’s not Eloquence.  It’s the, what is the other one?

GLEN GORDON:  Vocalizer?

RYAN JONES:  Is it Vocalizer?

MARTY:  Vocalizer.  It’s one of the newer ones.

GLEN GORDON:  If you switch to Eloquence – and it sounds like that it will pain you to do that.  But if you switch to Eloquence, does Eloquence have the same issue, do you know?

MARTY:  That’s a good question.  No, I haven’t tried it with a different synth.

BRETT LEWIS:  And what version of JAWS?  You said you were using Word 2016 and an older version of JAWS?

MARTY:  I’m using, yeah, 2019 currently.  It’s an older version, but...

GLEN GORDON:  Have you changed any JAWS settings?  And in particular, on number processing?

MARTY:  No, everything’s pretty much default.

RYAN JONES:  Are you using JAWS 2019 for a specific reason, or just because you don’t have access to getting an upgrade, or...

MARTY:  Yeah, that’s it.  Well, I had purchased at the NFB convention in 2021, I did purchase JAWS 2021 when you offered the discount, 20% discount.  And then I got lazy the next year.  I was going to purchase again the upgrade the next year, and then I didn’t.  I missed the discount.  So then I went back to my old version again and reinstalled it.

RYAN JONES:  What I would suggest, and I’m not trying to blow this off necessarily, but I think in a number of ways, using 2019 is going to be a challenge, and it will continue to get worse going down the road.  I’d like to suggest you consider maybe the Home Annual program that we have for folks who are, if you’re purchasing it on your own, you’re using it for your own personal use, where you can basically sign up, and it’s $95 a year, and you always have access to the latest.  So if you sign up today, you immediately have 2023.

MARTY:  Do you know if they’re going to discount that during the NFB convention again?

RYAN JONES:  We are going to have some discounts for NFB.  But I would really suggest getting current because all around it’s going to be better for you.

MARTY:  Mm-hmm.  All right, yup.  Well, I just thought I’d bring that up because it’s a mystery.  It’s been that way for a while.

GLEN GORDON:  Thanks, Marty.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Thanks, Marty.

MARTY:  All right, thank you.

BRETT LEWIS:  Appreciate it, Marty.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  All right.  Back on Clubhouse, we do have Greg onstage.

GREG:  Whenever I’m in a Zoom meeting, people say that my JAWS is bleeding through.  I’ve tried the balance, and they say that it doesn’t bleed through then, you know, when I have the balance.  Can you tell me the key for getting the balance back equalized?  And there’s also a thing where I guess you can change your sound card with JAWS.  I’m wondering if you can tell me the key for that, too.  That would be great.

RYAN JONES:  If you start with the INSERT+SPACE layer and then press V for volume, and then C for soundcard or C for card, and then you can UP and DOWN ARROW.  And every time you UP or DOWN ARROW it’ll toggle to the next one.  And if you hear JAWS coming through the right way, then just press ESCAPE, and it’s now set to that.  And if you don’t hear JAWS, then press DOWN ARROW again, for example, and it’s going to toggle to the next one.  Even if you don’t hear it, every time you DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW, it’s cycling.  You just have to keep pressing it till you hear it come through where you want it to come through.

GLEN GORDON:  And then what about the sound splitter?

RYAN JONES:  The balance is going to be INSERT+SPACE+V for volume, and then B for balance.  And instead of pressing left or right to switch, you press, I believe it’s UP ARROW, and it’ll put it back in the center.

GREG:  Okay.  I was wondering last year at NFB’s convention, Vispero set up an escape room.

RYAN JONES:  Yes, that’s right.

GREG:  And I’m just wondering if you could bring that to ACB as well because I’d like to try out the escape room.

RYAN JONES:  It’s a good suggestion.  We don’t have any plans to do it this year, but it is something that we might consider to bring back for next year and then maybe bring it to ACB.  So yeah, I think that that is a good suggestion.

GREG:  Okay.  And I’m going to go back to the reason why I can’t stream any TV shows on Netflix.  I have an addiction to Knight Manager.  So I’m in the Dark Forest as I’m talking to you guys.  So thank you guys for answering all my questions, and we’ll see you around.

RYAN JONES:  All right.


RYAN JONES:  Thanks, Greg.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  I’m going to ask David Kingsbury to unmute.

DAVID KINGSBURY:  I’ve got a couple of questions.  This isn’t specifically Jaws, but a couple of things related to verbosity of Microsoft Office, where if you guys could do something or work with them.  For example, if you’re in Word and you’re going through the ribbons, I’m talking Office 365, you tab into the lower ribbon, and let’s say margins, you land on margins.  It gives you a little explanation about, seems like a whole paragraph.  What are margins?  Why are they good for you?  When would you use them, et cetera.  And then at the very, very end you hear the ribbon shortcut, then you go to orientation, tells you what orientation is, and blah, blah, blah.  And it’s good when people hear that the first time.  About the 50th time, it gets old.

GLEN GORDON:  I think what’s happening is that text may be the same, in the same position where you might otherwise get like static dialog text that you would want to hear when the dialog opened.  It’s not exactly the same, but I have a feeling we might be processing it the same way.  So we’ll need to come up with a way to structure it and pluck it out and say, no, that’s really something you only want to hear once.

DAVID KINGSBURY:  And then a second is in the Outlook Calendar, if you start tabbing around between your appointments, and you have to hear the day, its date, how many meetings there are on this day before you can simply tab to the first appointment on that day.  And that might be useful for some people; but for other people, it’s just a lot of extra verbosity you’ve got to listen to.

GLEN GORDON:  We’ve had a battle with the calendar for quite a while.  And part of it is because they don’t give us the text in a way that we can split it into pieces that’s sort of language agnostic.  And so we used to try really hard to do things on a per language basis, and it would break over and over and over again.  And so we sort of lifted up our hands and cried uncle and said, “Fine, we’ll say what Microsoft wants us to say.”

You know, it’s interesting how we become immune to some of these things because I just, I hear Wednesday, oh, okay, we’ve transitioned to the next day, I just hit TAB.  But for someone who’s new to all of this, they probably aren’t quite as inclined to hit tab so aggressively for fear that they’re going to miss something.

DAVID KINGSBURY:  Right, yeah.  And, you know, one nice thing, again, I train people, so I train people in the Outlook Calendar and the Google Calendar also.  And that is so nice.  That is so lean and mean.  It just says what needs to be said and doesn’t say all this extra claptrap.  Again, that’s not a criticism of you guys, that’s, I’m sure that’s how Microsoft sets it all up.  And just an awful lot of extra verbosity that you don’t need, at least so I think.

RYAN JONES:  Well, you’ve got Glen intrigued, and you’ve got us thinking about verbosity again, which is good.  It’s something we always need to be considering.  So thank you for doing that.

DAVID KINGSBURY:  Okay.  Thank you.  Have a good evening.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Thanks, David.

RYAN JONES:  Thanks, David.

GLEN GORDON:  I want to point out that, although I often get intrigued, it’s not just me fixing issues and dealing with issues.  I am someone who gets excited, and fortunately we have a whole bunch of other people who also get excited when they find out about things.  And so when I talk about things individually, it doesn’t mean that I’m the only one taking care of stuff, far from it.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  And I have asked Scott to unmute, Scott Erickson.

SCOTT ERICKSON:  I work supporting a stack of people with both remote cloud PCs and with just local machines at the agency that I work for.  And one of the questions isn’t related to JAWS; one is.  So the first one is OpenBook.  There are still people that insist on using OpenBook.  And it’s rather, well, unstable and things like that because it hasn’t had development since I guess 2012, but there are people that demand it.  So I don’t know, what’s your sort of thoughts on that?

RYAN JONES:  OpenBook has a place in certain circumstances, and there’s some things that people like that it can still deliver.  Some years ago we started putting OCR functionality more into JAWS, so you can use JAWS OCR with a PEARL camera, with other scanners, of course with onscreen text, PDFs, and so on.  So from a directional standpoint in the future, you’ll see more things done in JAWS around OCR.  And for people who still like the specific things that OpenBook does uniquely, then that’s certainly an option.  But from a future development standpoint, you’ll see more of that happening with JAWS and OCR functionality.

SCOTT ERICKSON:  Yeah, yeah, cool.  My other question was around JAWS Remote, where we’ve got it on a lot of local PCs, but we’ve also got it on cloud PCs.  And the cloud PCs are managed by organizations that don’t necessarily have 2023.  They might have 2022 or even 2021, and there’s this worry that we don’t want to push out 2023 on the cloud PC if 2021 and 2022 aren’t going to connect, like, and cause any sort of issues.

GLEN GORDON:  My guess is that, if it fails, it’s going to fail relatively spectacularly.  And so you could probably do some initial tests and know within an hour if everything is fine.  And I would probably check both ways, newer on the virtual and older on the local and vice versa.

SCOTT ERICKSON:  All good.  Thanks for that.

GLEN GORDON:  Thank you very much.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  I’m going to invite Alex to unmute.

ALEX:  Two quick things here.  First of all, just want to check with you if anyone have any information about what’s going on  with Adobe Reader when trying to access PDFs.  I observed that most part of the time, it’s really getting hard to be able to get into the accessibility window for screen reader to basically add the markups to the documents to be able to access it.  Sometimes we need to press F6 to cycle around.  Sometimes it’s not showing.  Sometimes it’s really a pain.  So I don’t know if anyone heard about anything that we can change maybe in Adobe.

RYAN JONES:  This is one I’m familiar with.  So I think the situation is you open a PDF, and you know that the screen is open where you have to pick the option to have it infer the tags, or infer the reading order because it’s not tagged.  You might know it’s there, but you can’t get, like pressing UP and DOWN ARROW or TAB doesn’t do anything.  Is that right?

ALEX:  Yup.

RYAN JONES:  So Glen, you may have some more background, but I think my understanding with this was there’s a focus issue with Adobe.  I don’t believe it’s actually with JAWS, but I think it’s with Adobe Reader.  The one workaround, I think it was Liz or Rachel told me about this, is if you’re in that state, if you press CTRL+K, which is an Adobe Reader command, I think it brings up preferences, and then you press ESCAPE, that focus changes, then end up getting focus onto the dialog where you can then tab through the accessibility options.

GLEN GORDON:  I sort of don’t see this issue because I set up my accessibility options once, and set infer reading order when it’s not tagged, and never show me this dialog again.  And by doing that, most of the time for me, the document will just recognize and put me in the virtual buffer.  Is there a reason you don’t configure it that way?

ALEX:  It’s just easier to select, let’s say, read from left to right, top to bottom, and not select the infer reading order.  So that’s why I always prefer having to select, except if the document has already been tagged.

GLEN GORDON:  So Ryan, do you see this often enough that we can formulate a credible report for Adobe?

RYAN JONES:  We should circle back because I think, I thought they were aware of this, but we can circle back and see.  But it is something that I see often.

GLEN GORDON:  Well, thank you, Alex.  I think we’re going to call it a night.

ALEX:  Yup, okay.  Thanks very much for listening to me and have a great evening.  Thank you.

RYAN JONES:  Thank you.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Yeah, thank you to everyone who had questions.  This was a great May 2023 FSOpenLine.

RYAN JONES:  So what did we learn tonight, folks?  I think we learned that none of us have any lives because we don’t watch streaming.

BRETT LEWIS:  I don’t watch any streaming TV.


LIZ WHITAKER:  We don’t watch TV.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  Or play that interesting game that Greg was playing about the forest.  I was like, oh, I want to be in a fantasy forest or something.

BRETT LEWIS:  Oh, was that a game?  I couldn’t figure out what that was.

GLEN GORDON:  The last thing I watched, actually, streaming, was right before I did the audio description interview, and I wanted to hear a show with audio descriptions.  And I listened to something about Queen Elizabeth, which I never ever would have watched normally.  And it would have been completely indecipherable without the audio description because there was lots of scenery and stuff.  And so the audio description really did help.  But that was a year ago now.  So I, you know, don’t count on me.

RYAN JONES:  You’re almost due again.


RYAN JONES:  That’s right, that’s right.

RACHEL BUCHANAN:  You know, we didn’t hear a thing about Slack tonight.  But just to reiterate, Brett gave some great links to these YouTube videos on JAWS and Slack.  And if you’d like to get those links, you can email us, training@vispero.com.

GLEN GORDON:  Thank you all very much.  We’ll see you in August for the next FSOpenLine.

RYAN JONES:  Absolutely.  Thanks, everyone.



edigitaltranscription.com  •  06/09/2023  •  edigitaltranscription.com