JAWS Topics Series Announcement & First Post: Typing Feedback

JAWS Topics Series Announcement

Hi there y'all! Allen here from Nashville.  I wanted to put it out there that I have decided that there's no better time than the present to start something you've known is needed in some form out on the web.  Specifically, here on Paths to Technology, I wanted to use my opportunity to blog alongside all of you to write up an ongoing series of posts regarding JAWS settings and features. 

My hope is that through these posts you will come to better understand what they do and whether or not you or your students may need them.  Let me definitely say from the getgo that I am NOT a JAWS guru, and I am not a screen reader user myself.  However, I do work with JAWS with students who are blind on a regular basis, and I have come to have a decent understanding of some of its innerworkings and features.  In this time, I have also realized that for certain topics (like JAWS), there can be a serious lack of materials that can be used for practical guidance and sense-making as it pertains to decision making with various software and devices.  My hope is to write up such materials here on Paths to Technology to fill in some of those gaps.

My plan moving forward is to identify recommended settings for various student skill levels, as well as anything else that comes to my attention.  This mean, if you have a pressing question, I will gladly help figure it out if I can!  So, please leave comments with questions below, or also feel free to send me emails at allenhuangtsb@gmail.com.

Alright, let's do this thing!

Deciding on Your Level of Feedback

This will be quick: Pretty much, JAWS defaults to character feedback alone, which you can see in the Start Up Wizard.  However, many of my students do not like this because they do not know if they have typed a word correctly; after finishing and hitting space, they only hear "Blank."

Instead, you may want to explore the characters and words setting as a starting point.  That way, you will know what letters you have typed, and you will also hear the word after hitting space.  If you spelled the word incorrectly, you will likely hear a strange pronunciation and be able to realize, "Whoops, gotta go back and check on that word!"  

My last piece of advice is for users who have become fairly proficient touch typers.  When you are confident in your typing speed, form, and accuracy, you should consider setting your feedback to words only.  This is because you will not, consciously or subconsciously, listen for each character's feedback, which can slow you down.  With word feedback set, you will be forced to trust your typing skills and just get that word typed from muscle memory.  Upon pressing space, you will hear whether or not you typed correctly.  What I have seen from my students who have shifted towards words only is that their typing speeds have slowly increased!  Since it worked for them, I just knew it was worth sharing with y'all :)

That's it for me with this inaugural post! Hope it helped!  

Again, if you have specific JAWS questions or anything really, I am happy to help and will gladly blog about the solution so that it becomes a Google search away for the rest of the world!

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