Re: best way to learn JAWS

  • From: "Stefano Manzi" <stefano.xy@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <jfw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 17:54:16 +0100

Hello listers. I began by doing long period of training during primary school 
last year, in typing on the keyboard. I was using an IBM 80286 with DOS 5.0 and 
WordStar Professional 4.0, with Apollo 2 screen reader which echoed every key I 
As I realized to be more familiar with keyboard, I decided to deactivate the 
echo in typing.
Then in 1996 I participated to a little course regarding  basic MS-DOS commands 
and keyboard learning. All this, thanks to a local association called Omero and 
founded here in my town (Pinerolo, north of Italy) by parents of other blinds 
living here around and headed by a blind teacher cooperating with many 
volounteers among students of the school where he taught story and philosophy, 
plus a sighted computer programmer teacher.
Being glad to customize every aspect of DOS and also managing to create with 
QBasic and Turbo Pascal some little calculus applications to use for verifying 
the results of math operations during school classworks, it was so proposed to 
me and to all young blinds living in the province of Turin a course based on 
Windows 98.
It was April 1999 and of course I had given my DOS-based PCs the maximum 
performance in setting the best way the config.sys and autoexec.bat files, 
being very familiar with defrag, scandisk, program installing and removing. 
While schoolmates seeing me to handle PCs like a sort of tycoon where surprised 
but also bored because I was according to them, more concentrated on PC than in 
sharing the class atmosphere (generally made of stupid speeches and silly jokes 
I certainly disliked).
It was for me therefore a nice play and fun, to come close the Windows 
Lessons were taught by a sighted woman and we were all blind pupils, they 
lasted a fortnight.
Given for obvious that everyone knew the keys' disposition on the computer 
keyboard, for someone it sounded new the presence of three so-called ghost 
keyboards, that means: left and right windows keys, and context menu key.
A thing which I basically already knew.
We did some exercice by moving around Start button, taskbar and Desktop. We 
learned to verify the current window title, to use insert-h and insert-1 
combination keys, and then other few basic concept.
Every program has a title bar and a menu bar. We so trained in exploring menus 
and realized more or less they are the same in folders' windows.
It was quick to understand the utility of context manu, like alternative way 
for example to control-c and control-v. Fucntions present also in the Edit menu 
more or less everywhere (windows explorer, word processors).
Then it was explained the window controls (edit box, combo box, check box, 
buttons, radio buttons, list view, tree view) and how to handle with them 
So we didn't receive a guide for every program used.
I notice instead, when supporting other blinds by phone or Skype, that they 
need to be guided step-by-step also in basic movements. They certainly have 
never learnt the fundamental technique and believe probably that a save button 
in Microsoft Word rather than for downloading a file, requires different steps 
to perform the task.
The hardest thing to let impressed in their mind is to make them conscious of 
their machine folders' and files' structure.
They feel confused when I ask: can you verify where this file is going to be 
saved? Or, still much worse, after a Skype file transfer I ask: and now how do 
you manage to reach the file? Are you aware about the location of it?
When the person says no or keeps on doubting, this requires a lot of patience 
and again immediate guidelines directly to the solution.
But being with themselves, many persons who have been helped also for 2 or more 
hours also with theory concepts explained, seem like in a dark night without 
knowing which way to go. Be sure that after a short time, they will phone or 
skype you and ask: I can't remember the steps for saving an attachment! Or: I 
lost my documents icon on Desktop, I'm desperate please help me in restoring it!
This means how low is the general skill of computer usage for many blinds. At 
least, here in Italy. Because many of them prefer to listen the assisant person 
rather than JAWS' speaking, and so forgetting the related steps and general 
movements with normal JAWS and Windows keyboard commands.
Do you agree?

Best regards


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