Introducing JAWS: Basic Teaching Concepts

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Lea Nagel shares practical tips on how to teach JAWS concepts and a few basic commands.

So, you have a student who is ready to learn JAWS, a screen reader for computers.  Where do you start?  Pulling up the cheat sheet with the JAWS commands is overwhelming and intimidating.  Not every student is automatically tech savvy having the skills to self-teach or move rapidly through a few JAWS lessons.  Most students, especially students who are congenitally blind, need to start with basic concepts and bite-sized activities and commands.  Lea Nagel with the Statewide Vision Resource Centre created 4 short, introductory JAWS videos geared for teachers who are looking for JAWS teaching tips.

Introduction to Teaching JAWS videos 

How to press keys (Video 1)

  • Press and hold command key then tap letter key

Listen in Stages (Video 2)

  • Start Menu:  Windows key
  • Pause JAWS speech: Control key
  • Leave menu: Escape key


Navigating and Editing in Microsoft Word (Video 3) 

  • Physical activity to teach the concept of moving letter by letter (use fingers to represent the letters in the word “people”)
  • Move cursor by letter or character: right/left arrow*
  • Move word by word: control + right/left arrow
  • Home: move cursor to the beginning of the line
  • Move line: Down/up arrow
  • Move to beginning of document: Control + Home
  • Move by sentence:  Alt + down/up arrow
  • Move by paragraph: Control + down/up arrow

Note: that the cursor is touching the first letter of the word. Ask student where cursor is currently located. Review commands and action of each command.

*Right/left arrow: Right arrow will move forward through the document; left arrow will move backwards through the document.


Selecting Text with JAWS (Video 4)

  • Select by letter: Hold Shift + press right/left arrow
  • Select by Word:  Shift + Control + right/left arrow


JAWS Quick Reference Guide

JAWS Keystrokes Checklist