JAWS 2018 and Expanded OCR

Featured Image: 
Screenshot of JAWS OCR making a PDF accessible.

Freedom Scientific has expanded the optical character recognition (OCR) capabilitilities in JAWS 2018.  PDF files are often 'images' of the actual text, which typically means that they are not accessible to students who use screen readers.  

Using OCR with PDFs

  • Open a PDF file in Adobe Reader
  • Press the JAWS key + Space
  • Press O (for OCR)
  • Press D (for Document)

JAWS recognizes and displays the text in the Results Viewer with the virtual cursor active, just as if it were on a web page.

Using OCR with Images

In JAWS 2018, the expanded OCR technology supports extracting text embedded in these images: BMP, JPG, JPEG, GIF, TIF, TIFF, PNG and PCX.

  • Save the image (that has text embedded into the image) to your computer
  • Locate the saved image in File Explorer
  • Press the Application Key or Shift +F10
  • On the contenxt menu is the option, "recognize with JAWS".  Press Enter to being text recognition.


  • When focused on the file, press the JAWS Key + space
  • Press O (for OCR)
  • Press F (for File)

For more information about JAWS and OCR, go to Freedom Scientific's blog, Inside JAWS 2018 betas: smarter, more powerful OCR.

The video below demonstrates how to make a PDF worksheet accessible with JAWS 16's OCR capabilities.  Note: This video is NOT using the JAWS 18 beta.