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Observed Issue
Why is this important?
Observed Solution

A student using JAWS was unable to properly access an article. When using Internet Explorer on the computer in the OSS tutoring room, the article would not open and would ask to download an .asp file which was not related to the article itself. I then suggested using Firefox which would not allow her to type. Instead, the keys were mapped to shortcuts for navigating webpages 

This is important because the way it has been recommended to us and the way we teach students to navigate the internet is with Microsoft Internet Explorer. ​So if a student is required by a website to use a different browser, this can introduce new unforseen issues that a student, and many staff members, are not prepared for.

In this situation, JAWS had defaulted Firefox to use what is called the Quick Navigation keys which allows the user to jump to different elements in a webpage by using only the keys on the keyboard. When searching through the many JAWS menus to toggle this setting off, I was unable to find it. I had to do a google search to find a keyboard shortcut which would toggle this setting on or off. That keyboard shorcut was ins + n. Once this was turned off, the use of the keyboard was returned and the student was able to navigate the page and open the document as expected.


Many students have had issues with using with JAWS The degree seems to be proportional to the user's JAWS experience level but even our best JAWS students have issues with certain portions of the system. The issue that every students seems to have is with uploading files and with using the discussion / private message portion of the system

As more and more professors rely on etudes to distribute important information and class materials, it becomes more important for students to be able to easily access what is available to them. The issues we have seen force even the best students to get behind in their classes.

We have not found a good solution to these problems. While helping students get training in JAWS, many of the issues still remain.
Pamela Atkinson gave us a set of shorcut keys to help navigate the system but because of the way JAWS works, these shortcuts are made obsolete byincompatible with JAWS
The best way to combat these issues is by getting the support of the professor. This is most easily accomplished by demonstrating how difficult it is to navigate the site using JAWS
The problems can be averted if the professor can:
-not force the student to use the discussion / private message portion
-email materials directly to the visually impaired student
-allow the student to submit assignments by email


Visually impaired students cannot access the documents independently. Jaws Screen reader does not recognize the popup information to allow the student to accept the Jstor terms and download the article. When the article is downloaded, Jaws is not always able to recognize the text in the document and the documents is not read to them ​

Many professor require the use of academic journals for assignments in their classes and sometimes they require the use of Jstor to find the article. Because this service is not accessible, visually impaired students must have help downloading the articles and then wait additional time for alt media to convert the document. This is an unfair disadvantage for those students who should be able to access the articles from home as well as on campus.

We have noticed that there are other databases available on campus that are more friendly with JAWS. A good example is EBSCO. If professors can recommend EBSCO over Jstor then access would be more universal. ​


The online software does not work using Safari browser on a Mac / iPad / iPhone. In this case, there was an error claiming that the user's account was no longer active

Many college students rely on apple products to do their homework on their home or mobile devices.

By having the user install Google Chrome on their devices, we were able to completely fix this issue.


When using outlook online, some students have observed that their choice to use the "lite version" of the program is not saved for when they return

Our visually impaired students rely on screen reading software to complete their tasks on a computer. When using these screen readers in the normal version of outlook, the student is overwhelmed with the number of objects/links on the page. By using the "lite version" they can more easily navigate the difficul outlook system.

By trying different web browsers we noticed different results. The issue was originally observed using Google Chrome and appeared to be fixed by switching to internet explorer.
This recommendation to use internet explorer is not always a good fix, there will be times when Google Chrome may be more compatible for certain websites. A good first step when coming across any issues in a browser is to always try another browser.


Students with a visual impairment have a hard time following along with the lecture and need to be able to use assistive technology to see the projection screen. While some professors provide the lecture slides ahead of time for students or immediately following the lectures, there are others that do not give students access to these files.

​This can affect the experience a student has in class. One student mentioned that he hears his classmates getting excited over slides they are seeing while he has no idea what is going on. This is a clear inequality for those students.

For students with low vision, we have found a decent solution using a free online service called This website allows the professor to create a meeting on the computer they project the slides from. Then up to 5 students can easily log into the professor's meeting on a laptop using a special access code provided by the professor. This allows a student to use screen ma​gnification software like Zoomtext or Magic to run on top of the lecture slides, giving the student much greater access to the material.