How to Download and Use JAWS Screen Reader

JAWS is a screen reader program for Windows that allows blind or visually impaired users to hear the content on the computer screen. This guide is intended for sighted users who want to check that their documents are compatible with JAWS.

How to Download JAWS

JAWS is available for all UH students, faculty, and staff.

  1. Go to UH Software Downloads.
  2. Log in with your CougarNet ID.
  3. Under the Assistive Technology category, click the download button for Accessibility Software.
  4. Enter your email address and click search.
  5. Click Continue to sign-in.
  6. Click Register as a new user and fill out the requested fields. Remember to use your email address.
  7. After registering sign in with your email and password.
  8. You should be taken to the Product details page. If not click Manage > My Products from the menu.
  9. Click Activate this Computer.
  10. Click Ok to download the file.
  11. Once downloaded run the file and follow the prompts to install JAWS.

Once JAWS is installed you can run to the program to have JAWS read your screen to you. Close the program when you want it to stop reading to you.

How to Navigate with JAWS

JAWS users without sight will use a keyboard to navigate. Here are some common commands to be familiar with. The commands below are for a full-sized Windows desktop keyboard, but most will work on other types of keyboards. More shortcuts and JAWS training are available at Freedom Scientific JAWS Training.


  • Down arrow: read next line of text (some laptops use Caps Lock + O)
  • Up arrow: read previous line of text (some laptops use Caps Lock + U)
  • Left/right arrow: read by character(some laptops use Caps Lock + M / Caps Lock + Period)
  • Insert + down arrow: read from current position to the end of the document (some laptops use Caps Lock + A)
  • Ctrl: pause JAWS from speaking the current line
  • Ctrl + Home: move to the top the document

Web browsing

  • H: go to the next heading
  • Shift + H: go to the previous heading
  • Tab: select the next hyperlink
  • Shift + Tab: select the previous hyperlink
  • Alt + left arrow: back through browsing history
  • Alt + right arrow: forward through browsing history

General Navigation

  • Alt: access the top menu in most programs
  • Arrow keys: move between menu items
  • Space bar or Enter: select a menu item
  • Tab: go to next menu area
  • Shift + Tab: go to previous menu area
  • Esc: exit menu
  • Alt + Tab: move between open windows

Checking Documents in JAWS

Whether your document is a word file, PowerPoint, pdf, or webpage it is important to meet accessibility standards. Try listening to your documents with JAWS and make sure the following criteria are met:

  • The document has headings that are descriptive and well organized.
  • Links have names that adequately describe the destination. Do not use “click here.”
  • Images have alternative text.
  • Formulas or math content are read correctly by JAWS. Note: Using extra paratheses can help reduce ambiguity when formulas are read aloud.

For information on how to fix any accessibility issues please see: Instruction@UH Accessibility Knowledgebase Articles or contact an instructional designer.

JAWS Settings

To change the JAWS speech rate and typing echo go to Help and select Startup Wizard.

To change the JAWS voice type go to Options > Voices > Voice Adjustment. Then select a Profile Name from the drop down to change the voice.