[BCAB] JAWS versus Window Eyes

Brian Hartgen jaws at hartgen.org
Thu Feb 14 13:24:41 GMT 2013


Hi everyone

I've kept quiet on this topic until now to see what other thoughts came
through.
I should prefix what I am going to say with the fact that I use JAWS heavily
for many hours of each day, both for my own personal use and also I make my
living predominantly from JAWS script writing. When I need to resort to a
different screen-reader, it is System Access which I prefer.

What you will find is that all of the screen-readers (without exception)
have their plus and minus points, and a good number of those will be an
individual's own perception as to whether they are "good" or "bad".  

Demonstration copies of the products are useful but only if you know how to
use them.  So the first thing to do would be to look on the developing
company's website to see what documentation they have to support you, to
teach you to learn how to use the products. The supporting documentation is
just as important as the screen-reader itself.  You can have the best
program in the world, but if no one knows how to use it then you have a real
problem.  Freedom Scientific for example provide a good number of training
facilities, including daisy books, text documents, regular podcast tutorials
together with free and very low cost training webinars on subjects such as
Windows8, iTunes, Facebook, Office applications and more. JAWS always has
had fairly comprehensive built-in help utilities including its tutor
messages, which provide interactive help as you move through the Windows
operating system, informing the user what he or she can do when faced with a
particular environment.

In terms of scripting, I would make a couple of points here.

It really isn't that important as to how many scripting languages a
screen-reader has at its disposal or how mainstream they are.  The more
important question to consider is how effective is the end result of the
scripting which has taken place irrespective of the language used?  Lets say
you have a screen-reader, X, which is capable of understanding every
programming language known to man.  So a developer comes along, has some
knowledge of programming, but hasn't a clue about screen-readers. But
because screen-reader X supports this language he thinks he can create an
accessible solution.  It doesn't work like that. The script writer has to
understand how to present that information through speech or braille and
deliver the access in that format, providing shortcut keys to move to or
read parts of an application, to ensure speech output does not contain
verbose information, and so on. 

Lets take that a little further. Has the fact that some screen-readers now
support mainstream programming languages (or a number of languages) resulted
in an increasing number of scripts being produced to make more programs
accessible? I suggest that it hasn't. This is evidenced for example by the
GW Micro website's scripting area.  Granted, the StationPlaylist Studio
scripts are available there which is a very big project, together with a
handful of scripts for smaller utilities. But there is very little else.
Scripting for the Supernova range of products is not in too much evidence.
But over the years, there have been a large variety of JAWS scripts written
both by the community and by professional script writers which are available
and many of them are still being maintained.  I haven't seen any large
projects available for sale for other screen-readers in the same way that
JAWS has in respect of CakeTalking, J-Say and Skype for example.

The point I am making is that there must be a good reason why the scripting
community has not flourished in respect of the other screen-readers in the
same way that JAWS has done. Logevity is undoubtedly one answer in that it
has had a scripting language from inception and so there have been a number
of years over which developers can gain more knowledge in this area. I would
suggest in terms of access to applications in the workplace, JAWS is still
the leading product in this area too.

In terms of home use, two features JAWS does have on its side for internet
browsing are Custom Labels and Flexible Web. Both of these can be used to
very good effect for making the web a more pleasurable experience for some
users who find working with challenging websites difficult. PlaceMarkers are
also extremely helpful wich both JAWS and I think Window-Eyes has, which
Supernova does not.

Regards:

Brian Hartgen

-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Jackie
Cairns
Sent: 14 February 2013 10:58
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [BCAB] JAWS versus Window Eyes

I agree with the mixture of sentiments being expressed here.  If NVDA works
for you, good enough, why pay for one of the other programs?  I don't think
there is much to choose between Window-Eyes and JAWS, except FS charge you
for the level of operating system you are running, that is, Home Premium or
Professional.  This is a money-making thing I frankly detest.  With JAWS,
you can't send the copy protection back to the Internet, so if you want to
modify your computer, or JAWS throws a tantrum, then you need them to reset
your count, and they are keen on interrogation!

I also like the Apple approach, where you have VoiceOver out of the box.
JAWS isn't thankfully the big player it was because of the amount of choice
available to us nowadays.  As others have said, try the demos, and get some
hands-on at an Apple store if that's possible and part of your thinking.


Kind Regards,

Jackie Cairns

-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Catherine
Turner
Sent: 14 February 2013 07:48
To: BCAB Discussion List
Subject: Re: [BCAB] JAWS versus Window Eyes

Hello Louise,

Personally I'm a JAWS user, I've used Window Eyes occasionally and have a
friend who does, and I've recently started using Voiceover for Mac.  I
honestly think it mainly comes down to personal preference.
Nobody so far in this discussion has come up with a specific, tangible task
one or other can do better, and for example with using the internet though I
have the gut feeling JAWS is better this is sometimes proven wrong on lists
where people can access certain websites better with WE.  It's all swings
and roundabouts.  I can't comment on the scripting and technical side of
things and as you can see here experienced people's opinions are split.
It's all about choice really.

As for a novice's use and what would be easiest for them - personally I
think they're equally as difficult as each other.  I may be wrong because
I'm using an older version of JAWS and haven't installed either of them for
ages, but to my knowledge neither of them automatically give you a "quick
start" type tutorial walking you through basic screen reader and Windows
concepts at the beginning, which is what's needed I think - Voiceover does
this well in my opinion, but there that's no help if you want to use
Windows.

Personally if I was starting out with Windows and I had the money I would
buy both.  Failing that, get demos of both, and get NVDA, and play around
with everything you want to do and pick what you prefer.
There's no simple answer to the question which is better.

Catherine

On 2/13/13, Louise Cunningham <louise.cunningham86 at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Hello List,
>
>
>
> Just seeking user opinion. For long term and maximum Windows PC 
> accessibility, with the capability to hook up a Braille display, would 
> you favour JAWS or Window Eyes. I've heard excellent reports about 
> both of these screen readers, but which is best for both home and 
> professional context?
> What are the differences? Does one do something that the other can't?
>
>
>
> Any advice, suggestions and opinions will be much appreciated.
>
>
>
> Thanks.
>
>
>
> Best regards,
>
> Louise
>
> --
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--
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