JAWS, Just Because. Our Inaugural Friday Night Tech Workshop Covering All Things JAWS: March 20, 8:00 PM Eastern Time

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many of us to spend more time at home. Some of us are now bin the position where we are working from home. Some of us may be staying home to stay safe. Others may be at home in order to self-isolate or quarantine. Even before all of this began there have been many opportunities for online training using meeting platforms such as Zoom. Now that more of us are forced to stay in our homes the opportunities for remote training and assistance will likely increase.

A couple of weeks ago I attended my first Ibugconference where participants are encouraged to ask questions and to provide support for one another with their iOS devices. I really liked the format of the conference but I wanted to see a similar opportunity covering topics from a Windows perspective.

I decided that I’d like to host such a conference and this will likely be the first in a series of free, online tech workshops, assuming there is enough interest in such a project.

The first of these workshops is titled, “JAWS, Just Because” and is scheduled for Friday, March 20 at 8:00 PM Eastern time. This conference will allow users of the JAWS screen reader to both ask questions as well as to provide answers to those who use the JAWS screen reader. No question is too basic or too esoteric and it should be stressed that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

For this conference I’m looking for two types of participants. First, anyone with a question regarding JAWS is, of course, welcome. Second, I’m hoping that those who are knowledgeable in the use of JAWS will also consider participating to share knowledge. Due to time constraints we won’t have time to provide lengthy support or to tandem into a user’s machine. Questions which require this type of intervention would best be addressed by Vispero’s technical support.

In order to keep the conference running smoothly I am going to adopt a similar policy which has been successfully used by iBug. Users who wish to ask a question or to provide a response should say their name, as in, “This is John.” At that point please wait to be acknowledged by the host, as in, “Go ahead, John.”

I have some other ideas for similar workshops but would like to hear some of yours so that I can determine the needs that you have as well as the level of interest. With many of us working from home are there specific applications or programs that you might want some assistance with? Programs that come to mind are Slack, Teams, etc. Would there be interest in similar workshops for NVDA users?

I would also like to invite other assistive technology trainers to write to me privately if you’re interested in assisting with any of these workshops. Many of you may have some ideas which I haven’t thought of and you surely have expertise with topics which I do not. I am unable to provide any type of compensation for any assistance you may choose to provide but the point of these workshops is to provide free assistance to those who may be spending more time at home doing work or completing other tasks. This can be a stressful time for many of us. Many kind and patient people assisted me when I was first learning about assistive technology and I just want to pay it forward and give something back to the blindness community, particularly during this time when the need for some tech help may be even greater.

Here is the relevant information about the upcoming conference.

Topic: JAWS, Just Because

Join our Zoom Meeting via the following link.

https://zoom.us/j/3565857579

Meeting ID: 356 585 7579

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Meeting ID: 356 585 7579

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A Demo of Leasey: Friday, March 13 at 8:00 PM Eastern

Meeting Topic: a Demo of the Leasey Software to Be Used With JAWS or Fusion

Group: the Philadelphia Computer Users Group for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Date: Friday, March 13, 2020

Time: 8:00 PM Eastern

 

Introduction

If you’ve been a user of the JAWS screen reader for even a short time you know that it’s rich in features and capabilities and possesses an impressive array of configuration options. However, as powerful as JAWS may be there is a third party program which you can add to your existing copy of JAWS which offers even more tools and capabilities to make using JAWS even easier. Many of these features will allow you to more easily complete tasks and will definitely increase your productivity. Meet Leasey, which I will be demonstrating during the next phone meeting of the Philadelphia Computer Users Group for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Leasey is a program written by Hartgen Consultancy. It consists of over 50 separate features but it can be broken down into two components, which are Leasey Basic and Leasey Advanced.

Leasey Basic

Leasey Basic consists of a menu-driven interface to access the programs and functions of your computer. Instead of dealing with the start menu and the desktop pressing a single key opens the Leasey Main Menu, which contains options such as Write a Document or Letter, Check Your Email, Surf the Internet, etc. Pressing enter on any of these options opens a submenu with even more options. Leasey Basic also contains context-sensitive help which provides information on where you are on the computer and what you can do. These menus and help screens are spoken by a friendly, female human voice known as Leasey. This can help users who are new to the computer to slowly transition not only to using synthesized speech but in using their computer. Leasey Basic is ideal for new or novice users, users with cognitive disabilities or those who want a friendly, consistent way to access their computer.

Leasey Advanced

Some readers who are more experienced users may be wondering if Leasey has any features which are relevant to them. This is where Leasey Advanced comes in and will be featured during the bulk of our upcoming demo. Leasey Advanced contains so many features that we won’t be able to show you all of them in the time allotted. However, here are some of the features which we’ll be demonstrating.

  • Leasey Clips. This allows you to store up to twelve separate blocks of text into clipboard-like areas which can then be pasted in a document. These text blocks are preserved even after restarting your computer.
  • Leasey Texts. You can store an unlimited list of text blocks, such as names, addresses, signatures, etc. These blocks of text can be named using a title of the user’s choosing and can be recalled from a list. Optionally, you can use an abbreviation to paste a block of text, such as typing “addr” to paste an address.
  • Leasey Select. Easily select text by using intuitive hotkeys to mark the beginning and end of the block. There’s even a way to mark the end of a block of text and then have that text copied to the clipboard.
  • Leasey Search. Search for information from a variety of sources no matter where you located. Examples include Google, the NLS catalog and databases to look up information about music or TV shows. We will also demo searching Last.fm for song lyrics as well as an excellent weather search to obtain detailed weather information.
  • In Microsoft Word press hotkeys to move the cursor to the next or previous spelling error as well as to the next or previous grammatical error without the need to toggle the virtual cursor.
  • A simpler interface to Word’s spell checker.
  • How to quickly unprotect a Word file
  • How to obtain help on accessing All Leasey commands and to remind yourself and/or to learn Leasey keystrokes

Following the demo we’ll be happy to answer questions from participants.

How to Participate

You can join our meeting using Zoom by opening the following link.

https://zoom.us/j/3565857579

 

Meeting ID: 356 585 7579

 

One tap mobile

+19294362866,,3565857579# US (New York)

+16699006833,,3565857579# US (San Jose)

 

Dial by your location

+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

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Meeting ID: 356 585 7579

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/alWW1tLpC

 

Accessibility Webinar From Comcast Demonstrating Voice Guidance on X1 and Xfinity Stream on iOS With VoiceOver

Xfinity TV: Simple, Easy, Awesome…for All

At home or on the go, Xfinity has you covered with easy-to-use accessibility options like the voice remote and screen reader compatibility.

 

Join members of the Comcast Accessibility Team on Monday, February 24 at 1:00 PM, EST for a free web conference live from the Comcast Accessibility Lab. We’ll demonstrate the latest Accessibility enhancements on Xfinity X1 and the Xfinity Stream iOS App that empower blind and low vision customers, including:

  • Using Voice Guidance, the X1 Talking Guide
  • Finding and watching shows with video description
  • Shortcuts for common accessibility options
  • Using Stream with Voiceover on iOS
  • Exciting new features for Xfinity Internet customers

 

Learn more at https://xfinity.com/accessibility.

 

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/608219528

 

Meeting ID: 608 219 528

 

One tap mobile

+19294362866,,608219528# US (New York)

+16699006833,,608219528# US (San Jose)

 

Dial by your location

+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 608 219 528

Find your local number:

https://zoom.us/u/aURlwIKqE

 

No Headings In Search Results on Web Sites Containing Job Listings? A Problem, Indeed

Introduction and Explanation

I am noticing what may be a new and problematic trend in the way that Web sites which offer career listings are displaying their search results, which can have a negative impact on users of screen readers. I often visit these Web sites to copy links to job listings on some of the mailing lists to which I’m subscribed.

In order to provide a familiar comparison most of us have likely navigated search engines with a screen reader. As an example, when you perform a search on Google you probably know that you are able to navigate the results page by moving from one heading to the next, which is accomplished by pressing the letter H when using the majority of screen readers. As each search result contains a heading tag you can simply press the letter H to move from one search result to the next. Pressing shift+h allows you to navigate in reverse. This is not the only way to navigate a page containing search results but it is probably one of the most efficient methods which can be used.

For years, the majority of Web sites which specialize in job listings used the same markup on their results page. I have used these sites for over a decade and many of them allowed heading navigation to be used. This was, as you can imagine, extremely convenient as you could easily and quickly move from one search result to the next.

Indeed.com

Indeed is a well-known site which allows you to search for, browse and apply for open positions. It had always used headings to separate one job listing from another, allowing a screen reader user to quickly navigate from one job listing to the next.

A few weeks ago I noticed that heading navigation was no longer an option when navigating the search results on this Web site. The links themselves were accessible and my screen reader could speak them with no difficulty but headings had disappeared in the search results. This is problematic for several reasons.

First, they do allow filtering options to be navigated by heading. Therefore, pressing H to move forward through headings will take you to options such as salary estimate, job type, location, company, etc. At the time of this writing the last heading on an Indeed.com search results page is Experience Level. If you press H again you will either be told that no more headings exist or, if you’re using JAWS with its default settings enabled, you will be wrapped back to the top and your focus will be placed at the first heading on the page, which will be a level 1 heading containing the beginning of the main content. Users who are not expecting this behavior will find this a bit surprising and somewhat disconcerting.

Here is how you have to locate the first search result on the page with its current implementation. First, you have to navigate to the last heading on the page, which is Experience Level. The quickest way to do this is to press ctrl+end to move your virtual cursor to the bottom of the page and then press shift+H, which moves your cursor to the last heading on the page. Next, move down by several links and you will eventually find the link containing the first job listing, above the words “page 1 of xxx jobs” where xxx contains the amount of total pages containing your results. You could also move to the top of the page and search for the word “page” which would likely take you to the “page x of xxx jobs” text. The point I’m trying to make is that neither of these options are obvious, intuitive or efficient and screen reader users should not have to do this in order to efficiently navigate a page containing search results.

At the risk of belaboring this point even further navigation is also not efficient because, since I can no longer navigate by headings to jump from one result to the next, I am now forced to navigate from one link to the next and each job listing is comprised of four links, such as the job title, the name of the company, the page containing reviews of that company and a link for saving the job. The link containing reviews is also poorly labeled, with a title like “3.6”, which I assume is the average of the amount of ratings the company received. It goes without saying that I should not have to navigate four links to move from one search result to the next and I felt that contacting Indeed Support was in order.

Contacting Indeed Support

I sent Indeed a tweet and asked them to reinstate heading navigation.

 

@Indeed You recently removed headings which were located at the beginning of each job listing in the search results. This change makes navigation with a screen reader a bit more inefficient. Would you please reinstate headings to allow for heading navigation?”

Here is the response I received from @indeedsupport.

@DavidGoldfield Hi David, you could visit our website through an incognito/private window and it will bring up the previous layout. ^DR”

This response is, in my opinion, almost laughable and is hardly what I would call a reasonable solution. I wrote back with the following response, comprising two separate tweets.

“@IndeedSupport 1/That’s good to know but most users aren’t going to think of launching your site in incognito mode just to have an interface that uses heading navigation. Can’t you offer this as an option? It makes it easier to navigate from one search result to the next.”

“@IndeedSupport 2/Most Web sites displaying search results group each result by heading. I’m sorry but it just isn’t reasonable to tell a screen reader user that they must launch a site using incognito mode in order to have this capability.”

 

Here is their response.

“@DavidGoldfield We appreciate you sharing this feedback with us, David. While our team does not have a way to change the layout we can assure you we will pass this feedback over to our team internally. ^TC”

I think that what they were trying to convey was that the support team was unable to change the layout of the site but that they would send my feedback to the appropriate team that could make the necessary change.

Careerbuilder Is Even Worse

I decided to visit other sites containing job listings just to prove that similar Web sites list their search results by headings. I was in for a bit of a surprise.

Not only did the search results for Careerbuilder not contain headings to separate one listing from the next but the actual links for the job listings were not consistently being identified as links when using JAWS. When I move link by link using JAWS 2020 with the “any link” hotkey (undefined by default) I was unable to locate the links containing a label with the job listing. If I moved line by line the links were identified when I moved to them with up arrow but navigating with down arrow just read the link as nonactionable plain text. The “any link” hotkey did locate links to the job listing page but those links were not properly labeled. No headings existed to separate one search result from the next.

Monster: An Example of A Results Page Done Correctly

Thankfully, Monster’s search result page is nicely laid out, allowing me to move from one search result to the next with heading navigation. JAWS detected a read-only field for entering a job title on the main page prior to the actual edit box for entering this information which did confuse me but, overall, the site is navigable.

What Can We Do?

If you feel that these issues are important I am asking that you contact Indeed and Careerbuilder to alert them of these problems and to let them know that heading navigation needs to be reinstated on search result pages to ensure quick and efficient navigation for users of screen readers. While we need to keep these messages polite and respectful we also need to remember that these are not feature requests and our messaging should indicate the necessity of heading navigation. Accessibility is a necessity and not a feature or an option. Here is some contact information for these sites.

Indeed

Twitter: @indeedsupport

Contact Form (which also contains no level 1 heading to quickly move to the main content)

https://www.indeed.com/support/contact?hl=en

Careerbuilder

Twitter: @CareerBuilder

Contact Form (also containing no headings) https://www.fuzeqna.com/careerbuilder/consumer/question.asp

Conclusion

I have not visited other career Web sites to see if their results pages are using headings. It is possible that Indeed and Careerbuilder are in the minority when it comes to this oversight. However, even if this is true these two sites are major, well-known players in the job listings space and it is critical that blind job seekers have proper access to them. I am hoping that if enough people contact these organizations to respectfully express their concerns this problem may well be quickly and satisfactorily resolved.

 

A Bit About Leasey: Adding Extra Functionality to JAWS and Fusion

I wanted to call out a third party program which is used in conjunction with JAWS or Fusion which is called Leasey, which stands for Learn, Enable, Advance .. So Easy. Leasey is developed by Hartgen Consultancy, which also produces and sells other software packages as well as providing excellent training for users of JAWS and Fusion.

It contains over 50 features but it can be divided into two modules or components.

One component is called Leasey Basic. It is ideal for new or inexperienced computer users, users with cognitive-related disabilities or just someone who wants an easy, consistent, menu-driven interface for their computer. Instead of the desktop, start menu or task bar it uses a simple menu, read by a human voice. It also contains context-sensitive menus and a help system, also human narrated.

The other component is called Leasey Advanced, which is ideal for intermediate or power users. It contains a huge array of features. Some include:

Leasey Clips

These are like separate clipboards, with a total of twelve, which retain their information even after the computer has been restarted.

Leasey Texts

This allows you to save a list of text blocks which you can insert into a document, with the option of storing abbreviations to expand into your desired block.

Leasey Cuts

Allows you to store shortcuts for Web pages as well as to specific files and folders.

Leasey Alerts

If specific text appears on a particular Web page JAWS can immediately move focus to that text when the page loads. As an example, I have a Leasey alert set whenever the text “Search Results” appears on the Google Web site. This way, once I perform a search the JAWS virtual cursor immediately jumps to the beginning of the search results as soon as the results page loads.

Leasey Search

While we’re on the subject of searches this feature allows you to search a variety of different services without the need to first open a Web browser. I like to think of it as an extension of the Research It feature in JAWS. As an example, I can perform a search on Google, a TV database, a music database and many more sites.

Microsoft Word

Just a few features specific to Word include:

  • Hotkeys have been set up to move the cursor to the next, previous, first or last spelling error as well as the same for grammatical errors. This is very similar to a feature in Window-Eyes, which I personally requested for Leasey.
  • A modified user interface to work with the Microsoft Word spell checker.
  • A modified interface for performing search and replace.

 

Leasey Tags

The ability to tag any file in any folder for copying without needing to use the standard shift or control keys with arrow keys to select the file.

 

Leasey Radio

A radio tuner.

Leasey Diary

For keeping track of appointments.

Leasey Connect

a built-in address book

.. and a lot more.

The phrase “a lot more” cannot be emphasized enough. I have only mentioned just some of Leasey’s features.

 

I had nothing to do with the development of the software, short of suggesting some features which the developer graciously decided to add. I paid the full price for the software, receive no commission from any sales and am not affiliated with Hartgen Consultancy, which produces and sells the software. I’m just an enthusiastic Leasey user and wanted to get the word out about this amazing software.

Leasey must be used along with an activated copy of either JAWS or Fusion. This means that it does not function with other screen readers or without JAWS or Fusion running.

The Leasey Central Web site provides a complete list of features, short audio tutorials along with transcripts, detailed product demonstrations as well as links for downloading a trial version or for purchasing the software.