What is JAWS?
(Video Credit: Freedom Scientific Training)

JAWS is a screen reader for Microsft Windows offered by Freedom Scientific, Inc. JAWS will assist users who are blind or low-vision to use a Windows computer. JAWS has a variety of features, including Braille support, multi-lingual speech synthesis, and multi-screen support.

JAWS has a variety of features to help students with vision impairment:

Control & Navigation

  • JAWS allows control of major Windows functions through keyboard shortcuts and spoken feedback.
  • Consistent shortcuts across programs, but the complexity of modern software requires users to memorize specific keystrokes.


  • Virtually every aspect of JAWS is customizable, including keystrokes, reading speed, punctuation granularity, and hints.
  • Features a scripting language for task automation and complex program behavior modifications.

Web Browsing Mode

  • JAWS has a dedicated mode for web browsers with specific functionalities.
  • Declares webpage title and number of links; navigation using arrow and tab keys.
  • Specific letter keys navigate to elements (e.g., text boxes) on web pages.

Document Access

  • JAWS can access headings in Word and PDF documents using similar navigation methods.

Complexity and Training

  • The feature set and configurability of JAWS are described as complex.
  • Training is recommended, especially for users like web designers conducting accessibility testing, to ensure accurate conclusions.

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

JAWS is for any computer user whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse.

JAWS works with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Support for Microsoft Edge is continuing to improve as well.

JAWS installs and works with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. Note that as Windows continues to change, new JAWS features may not be available in older versions of Windows.

Yes, JAWS reads accessible PDF documents. It also contains an option to perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on inaccessible scanned PDF documents so they can be read. If an inaccessible PDF is opened in Adobe Reader, JAWS displays a dialog asking if you want to OCR the document. Choose Yes to have JAWS recognize and display the text for reading.
Definitely! Special attention has gone into the design of JAWS to make sure you have full access to email, especially with Microsoft Outlook from Office 365.