March 20, 2019

JAWS Convenient OCR is Here!

Today Freedom Scientific today announced the release of JAWS® for Windows version 13, including Convenient OCR. By performing Optical Character Recognition on text that is displayed in a graphic, blind computer users are now able to access such things as scanned-in posters and other such graphical images that might as well have been a blank page before. JAWS can even allow finding and clicking on control links and buttons that were once hidden, even, believe it or not, the menu of a DVD!

Another new feature for JAWS 13 is Results Viewer, which displays the results of  features like Research It. According to the Freedom Scientific press release, the new interface “enables faster navigation with Navigation Quick Keys and switching to other windows without losing the results of your lookup. Sports scores have returned to Research It and are easier to navigate than ever before. The INSERT+V keystroke now opens the new Quick Settings, which replaces Adjust JAWS Options and matches the easy-to-use Settings Center style interface introduced last year in JAWS 12.”

“This release represents a huge step in accessibility for screen reader users,” says Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management for Freedom Scientific. “Whether trying to identify and read inaccessible PDF documents that are just scanned images or interacting with graphical controls that could not previously be located, the new Convenient OCR option built into JAWS 13 has been described as a real game changer. JAWS 13 is also packed with other features and enhancements that have been selected and designed to improve access and ease of use for all users.”

The upgrade is an SMA release and can be downloaded as either a 32-bit or 64-bit version from the JAWS downloads page. DVD shipments to SMA holders and new product customers will commence on Nov 1, 2011.”

Source: JAWS 13

Jaws 13 Will Include Integrated OCR

Freedom Scientific announced that version 13 of the popular Jaws screen reader will be available as a public beta next week. According to Eric Damery of Freedom Scientific, anyone will be able to download and install the beta during this period. A response form will be provided on the Jaws HQ web site for reporting bugs and other problems. The official release is expected in late October or early November.

The most exciting new feature in Jaws 13 is built-in OCR (optical character recognition). This feature, called convenient OCR, is designed to read text contained in graphical images not normally readable by Jaws. It will help solve the common problem encountered when the bank or utility company presents account information online in graphical form. The text hidden in the image can be read using regular Jaws navigation commands. Convenient OCR will also read those annoying PDF files that contain scanned images instead of text.

Jaws 13 will include a number of other useful enhancements including simplified commands for reading tables and a redesigned user configuration facility called quick settings. There is also expanded Aria support for Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox. Another very nice addition to the Internet Explorer support is web site specific search history. Search keywords previously entered for a particular web site can be quickly retrieved and recycled in new searches.

We are looking forward to the new features and performance enhancements coming in Jaws 13 and we think that Convenient OCR is a giant step forward in screen reader functionality. It is important to note that although Convenient OCR provides groundbreaking support for reading text contained in graphical images, it will not allow the text to be copied or saved. Freedom Scientific stated that they could not get this feature ready in time for the release. It seems to us, as outside observers, that it would be just as easy to display the translated text in the new results viewer as it is to output it to the voice synthesizer. It is our hope that Freedom Scientific will be able to include this functionality in the future.

Source: FSCast Episode 58

The Free Screen Reader Challenge

NVDA logo vs. Thunder logoDarren Burton and John Lilly, of the American Foundation for the Blind tech lab, pit the free and open source NVDA screen reader against the free Thunder screen reader in a series of computer tasks. They evaluated the two screen readers on several different computers equipped with Windows XP and Windows 7. The tests included productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and online activities like banking, shopping, and using iTunes.

NVDA proved to be the overall winner in the tests and was judged to be a close competitor to the commercially available screen readers. You can read the complete results in their detailed report in the August edition of Access World.