What's new when using JAWS with Office 365 apps

Microsoft is working actively with VFO, home of the Freedom Scientific brand and the widely used JAWS screen reader, to help people be efficient and productive at work, in the classroom, and at home.

This article announces important enhancements to using JAWS with several Office 365 apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype for Business, Windows Mail, and Outlook.

The improvements described in this article reflect close coordination between VFO and Microsoft. In many cases, both companies implemented changes. If you find that a described update does not work on your version of Office 365, it might not have been released yet. Office 365 updates are released monthly.

Important: 

Word

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Word for Windows in Office 365.

  • Row and column headers

    When you correctly mark a header row or first column in Word table style options, JAWS responds appropriately and indicates that you are on a table header or row header. For example, in a given cell, JAWS can speak the appropriate row/column header.

    To enable (or disable) table headers, check (or uncheck) Header Row and First Column boxes on the Design tab for Table Tools

  • Improved stability and reliability

    There are numerous stability and reliability improvements when using JAWS with Word. This includes working with headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, and comments, using the word count dialog, and using Find.

Excel

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Excel for Windows in Office 365.

  • Function auto-complete

    When you write a function, JAWS speaks and provides Braille information of the items in the function's auto-complete list.

  • Data validation

    When you press Alt+Down Arrow on a cell that contains a Data Validation list, JAWS reads the items in the list.

  • Title headers in PivotTables

    JAWS now reads titles of PivotTable fields, even when the title is blank.

  • Braille information for drop down lists

    JAWS now provides correct Braille information for items in a  drop down list.

  • Error descriptions

    If you encounter an error in a cell of an Excel workbook, JAWS now tells you that there is an error, and tells you how to open the context menu.

PowerPoint

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with PowerPoint for Windows in Office 365.

  • Textbox editing

  • JAWS now detects when a textbox has focus or is being edited. For example, when you use Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate within a textbox, JAWS reads the line of text that you navigated to. When you use Left Arrow and Right Arrow, JAWS reads the character you navigated to.

  • Notes read

    JAWS now identifies the Notes pane and reads any Notes text. For example, when you use Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate within the Notes pane, JAWS reads the line of text that you navigated to. When you use Left Arrow and Right Arrow, JAWS reads the character you navigated to.

Skype for Business

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Skype for Business in Office 365.

  • Notification alerts

    When Skype posts an alert about an incoming call or IM request or you receive a new message in an IM conversation, JAWS lets you know.

Project

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Project for Windows in Office 365.

  • Grid read correction

    JAWS reads Project grid content correctly.

Windows Mail

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Windows Mail in Office 365.

  • Say Line correction

    JAWS reads an email message with wrapped text when you press END at the end of a line.

Outlook

Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Outlook for Windows in Office 365.

  • Search suggestions

    Outlook provides suggestions that make searching easier and more efficient. JAWS reads these suggestions correctly.

  • Table navigation for message list

    You can now navigate a message list just like a table. JAWS enables you to use shortcuts such as CAPS+T to change into table mode, then use arrow keys. Outlook email can now be browsed by element, which makes navigation more efficient.

  • List item position

    As you navigate a list, JAWS announces the relative position of each item in the list, such as "item 3 of 5" for both speech and Braille.

  • @mentions

    Office 365 ships features every month. Microsoft works actively with VFO, the company that makes JAWS, to make sure that JAWS works well with our new features - @mentions are one example.

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