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Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Series: Start Now: August 2021

Brush up on your accessible software (JAWS®/ZoomText®/Fusion®/NVDA®/VoiceOver®)

Summer is fabulous; it’s a great time to get out and about and enjoy freedom from the demands of learning with a laptop. However, time away from our laptops can cause our accessible software skills to get a little rusty. Here are some resources to help you brush off the dust and rust and jump back into mastering the accessible software skills you need for academic and employment success!

First, a little background:

  • Screen reading software: Translates accessibly-coded digital information (both text and alt text) into both speech and braille. Speech access requires speakers or other audio output. Braille access requires a connection with a refreshable braille display.
  • Screen magnification software: Allows the user to magnify the computer screen. More advanced software allows the user to magnify the mouse pointer and cursors, change color schemes, split the screen and pinpoint what is magnified, highlight text where the cursor is, and other functions.

JAWS® screen reading software

JAWS is screen reading software that is both rich and robust. Freedom Scientific provides a wealth of resources for JAWS users. From traditional guides and shortcut sheets to YouTube videos and MP3s, Freedom Scientific allows you to pinpoint your training needs and get the information to fill those needs efficiently and for FREE!

Basic JAWS training materials

  • Pick which parts you need on the JAWS Getting Started page, where materials are available for download in DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System), MP3, and HTML formats for you to listen to or read at your convenience.
  • Download the complete JAWS Basic Training that contains the entire Basic Training in MP3 and HTML format, as a ZIP file that you can extract to any location on your computer.
  • Surf’s Up is a series of self-guided lessons that teach you to read and navigate the web using JAWS.

JAWS Training Videos

More advanced JAWS training materials

  • With Additional JAWS Training, discover tips and tricks for JAWS features (like Convenient OCR and Research It) as well as advanced skills, including using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and JAWS in Tandem mode. These lessons are available for download in both DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and MP3 format.   

JAWS reference materials

ZoomText® screen magnification software

ZoomText is powerful screen magnification software with many advanced features that put you, the user, in control of what the computer screen displays and how you navigate it. Additionally, ZoomText has some basic screen reading capabilities.

Basic ZoomText training materials

ZoomText reference materials

Fusion® screen reading AND screen magnification software

Fusion combines both JAWS and ZoomText to provide access to both screen reading and screen magnification. Many resources for Fusion are found in the JAWS and ZoomText sections above. Here are some Fusion-specific resources:

Basic Fusion training materials

Fusion reference materials

NVDA® screen reading software

Unlike Jaws, ZoomText, and Fusion, NVDA (Non-Visual Digital Access) is not commercially produced. Instead, NVDA is open-source software, and it is available at no cost. This means, however, that there is not a company behind NVDA, though training materials and technical support services may be purchased. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to be able to use multiple screen readers. Here are some NVDA training material sources:

Free NVDA training materials

Fee-based NVDA training materials

NVDA Communities

VoiceOver® screen reading software

iOS (iPhone and iPad)

Mac (laptop and desktop Apple computers)

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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