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
- The Freedom Scientific Training YouTube channel contains dozens of videos (most 2-4 minutes long) to help you learn/remember how to do specific tasks in JAWS. Consider subscribing to this channel so that you will get notice of future uploads.
- JAWS Playlist
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
- NVDA User Guide
- Learn NVDA from the American Foundation of the Blind’s YouTube channel
- Resources from the American Foundation of the Blind
- Learn NVDA
- Learn NVDA page on the AFB website (includes links to MP3 downloads)
- Using Google Docs and Drive with NVDA page on the AFB website (includes links to MP3 downloads)
- Learn NVDA
Fee-based NVDA training materials
- Basic Training for NVDA is available in three formats:
- Basic Training for NVDA e-book
- Basic Training for NVDA downloadable audiobook
- Microsoft Word Training for NVDA e-book
- Microsoft Excel Training for NVDA e-book
- Microsoft PowerPoint Training for NVDA e-book
- Microsoft Outlook Training for NVDA e-book
VoiceOver® screen reading software
iOS (iPhone and iPad)
- A Beginner’s Guide to Using iOS with VoiceOver by Tyler found at Applevis
- Voiceover iOS training videos on Apple’s YouTube channel
- VoiceOver Gestures in iOS from Deque University
Mac (laptop and desktop Apple computers)
- Voiceover Mac training videos on Apple’s YouTube channel
- A Beginner’s Guide to Using macOS with VoiceOver by Tyler found at Applevis
- VoiceOver Keyboard Shortcuts on a Mac from Deque University
- Apple’s VoiceOver Getting Started Guide
- Note, this is a dynamic document, and you must select “Table of Contents” to access each section of each chapter of the guide
- Please find below links to complete sections of each chapter of an older version of the VoiceOver Getting Started Guide
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:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 305-9199
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
- Voice mail: Call (443) 320-4003, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
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.