What’s New In JAWS, Fusion and ZoomText 2024

What's new

Many people would already be aware that towards the end of October last year, version 2024 of JAWS, ZoomText and Fusion was released. Some of you may have already looked at the new features and changes but for those who haven't, here are some of the highlights.


Face in View

Over the last few years, video calls have become a standard way to communicate. Face in View is a new feature for JAWS and Fusion users which helps you to make sure your camera is set up correctly and everything looks as it should. It can help with the following questions:

  • Is my face centred in the view?
  • Am I looking directly at the camera?
  • Is there enough light?
  • What else is the camera seeing?

Note: Unfortunately at this time Face in View is not available during a video call as it needs exclusive use of the camera.

To start Face in View press JAWSKey+Space, followed by F, then O. You will now be alerted if your head is tilted, you’re looking the wrong way, etc.

The following commands are available once Face in View is running:

  • Change to a different camera: JAWSKey+Space followed by F, then C. Use your up and down arrow keys to select the camera you want to use and press Escape when done.
  • Give a detailed description: JAWSKey+Space followed by F, then D
  • Say the brightness level as a percentage: JAWSKey+Space followed by F, then L
  • Describe the background: JAWSKey+Space followed by F then P

For a more detailed description of this feature go to https://support.freedomscientific.com/Downloads/JAWS/JAWSWhatsNew and look for the Face in View heading.


Split Braille

Split Braille is a feature for JAWS and Fusion users that allows you to have half your Braille display showing one part of the screen, and the other half showing something totally different. We won’t discuss the usage of the feature here as it’s far too long a topic to cover in this issue. Some of the things you can do with it include:

  • Buffered Text: This captures the text at your current location and displays it on the right half of the display. You can then navigate to any other part of the document or switch to a totally different one
  • Annotations: This is most useful in Word and allows you to move through a document displayed on the left half of the display, while annotations.or comments appear on the right half.
  • Translation Split: This gives you two translations of the current text. You could have one side showing grade 2 Braille, and the other showing grade 1.

This is just a small snippet to what this feature can do. For more information including instructions on how to use the feature go to https://support.freedomscientific.com/Downloads/JAWS/JAWSWhatsNew and look for the Split Braille heading.


The Early Adopter Program

The Early Adopter Program gives you access to new features as they’re being developed. There is also an option for you to give feedback to Vispero about the feature you’re testing. You don’t need to install complete new copies of JAWS for this.

To find out what features you can install:

  1. Go to the JAWS Options menu and press enter on Early Adopter Program.
  2. Each feature will show up as a check box. Tab between the check boxes and press the space bar to enable the ones you want.
  3. Tab to and press the OK button, then restart JAWS or Fusion.
  4. If you uncheck an item you’ve previously checked, the feature you were testing will be disabled.



As in the JAWS section above, this is only a partial list of what’s been added to ZoomText 2024. For a complete list go to https://support.freedomscientific.com/Downloads/ZoomText/ZoomTextWhatsNew

Inverted Mouse Pointer

Up until now, the Zoomtext mouse pointers have always been solid colours, like white or yellow.  But what if the background just happens to be the same colour?  The mouse “disappears” except for a black outline.  The process of automatically switching the mouse pointer colour to the opposite of the background is called "Inverting the pointer”.  It can help some users find the mouse pointer easier. To choose the inverted pointer, click on the bottom of the Pointer button in the ZoomText or Fusion Magnifier tab and choose Scheme 7 - Inverted.

Performance Improvements

The part of ZoomText which handles the magnification (known and the magnification engine) has been optimized to allow ZoomText or Fusion to start quicker, and also take up less computer power and memory. This should make ZoomText run better on slower computers. You don’t need to do anything to enable this, it’s already turned on.

Simplified Menus

The ZoomText and Fusion menus have been reorganized. This should make it easier for new and experienced users to find the option they want.

Quick Access Bar

Due to user feedback, the quick access bar which usually shows up on the right side of the screen is no longer visible all the time. To access it press Caps Lock+Right Mouse Click.


Back to Basics

In this section we’ll be looking at some ways to perform common actions with JAWS, Fusion and ZoomText, some of you may not be aware of.



Controlling The Voice

There are a few ways you can control how JAWS speaks. There are multiple speech synthesizers available including the ones that come standard with JAWS: Eloquence and Vocaliser. There is an extremely comprehensive window which allows you to set all kinds of parameters such as speed, which voice you’re using, volume, etc. You can even have different settings for the normal reading voice (the PC Cursor) and the voice you hear when you type (the Keyboard Voice.)

If you don’t want or need that level of control and only really want to speed up or slow down the speech, there are a couple of ways to do this.

Note: These commands will also work for Fusion users.


Temporarily speeding up or slowing down the speech

The changes you make with these commands will remain active until you either close the application you’re currently in, or change to another one with the Alt+Tab command.

  • To temporarily slow down the speech:  Control+Alt+Page Down
  • To temporarily speed up the speech:  Control+Alt+Page Up


For those of you who have a Focus Braille Display you can use the following commands:

  • To temporarily slow down the speech:  Space+Left or Right Shift+Left Selector
  • To temporarily speed up the speech: Space+Left or Right Shift+Right Selector


Permanently speeding up or slowing down the speech

Any changes you make with the below commands will remain active even if you restart JAWS or your computer.

  • To permanently slow down the speech: Control+Windows+Alt+Page Down
  • To permanently speed up the speech: Control+Windows+Alt+Page Up


Again, for those of you with Focus Braille displays you can use the following:

  • To temporarily slow down the speech:  Space+Left Selector
  • To permanently speed up the speech:  Space+Right Selector


Turning the speech off and on

There is a way to stop JAWS from automatically speaking. This puts it in to a mode called Speech On Demand. In this mode JAWS will not say anything at all unless you ask it to use the Say current line command, asking it to read the time, etc. All automatic speaking is turned off in this mode. You can configure what Speech On Demand will and won’t say in the Settings Centre.

For Focus Braile display users just press Right Shift+M (Dots 1 3 and 4.) For Keyboard users you need to use to commands as this is what’s called a layered keystroke. First you need to press JAWSKey+Space bar. Your JAWSKey will be either the Caps Lock or the Insert Key depending on the keyboard layout you have set. JAWS should make a clicking sound. Next? press the letter S. JAWS should say “Speech On Demand.” To get back to normal simply repeat the same command and JAWS will respond with “Full Speech.”



Change Magnification level (zoom in or zoom out)

Many ZoomText users don’t just configure their settings once and leave them. There are situations where they need to change the magnification level depending on the application being used. You can set this up to happen automatically, but many people just change this as they go.

We’ve had many people enquire if there’s a fast way to do this other than bringing up the ZoomText Window and changing the zoom level in there. ZoomText does have shortcuts to do this. People who have ZoomText keyboards can use the function keys to do this easily but for those who don’t, there are alternatives.

Like JAWS, ZoomText has a key it uses for most of its commands. JAWS can use either the Insert or the Caps lock as its own modifier. Other examples of modifier keys most of you would be familiar with are the Control and Alt keys. For ZoomText users, your modifier for most commands is the Caps lock (referred to from now on as Caps.)

  • To increase magnification (zoom in):  Caps+Up Arrow
  • To decrease magnification (zoom out):  Caps+Down Arrow


Controlling the speech

Like JAWS and Fusion, you can control some of how ZoomText speaks with some basic commands.

  • Turn speech on or off:  Caps+Alt+Enter
  • Turn the reading of text under the mouse pointer on or off:  Caps+Alt+m
  • To make ZoomText speak faster:  Caps+Alt+Up Arrow
  • To make ZoomText speak slower:  Caps+Alt+Down Arrow


Two other useful commands

You may come across a situation where you want no magnification at all. You can of course use the above commands to achieve this, but a quicker way is to press Caps+Enter. This will set the magnification level to 1 which makes the screen normal size. Any other enhancements you have such as mouse cursor etc will still remain active in this mode. Speech will also still be active. This command is a toggle so to restore your original magnification level just use the same command.

If you need to disable ZoomText completely but you want an easy way to get it back again, there is an easy way to do this without having to close ZoomText down completely. Press Caps+Control+Enter to disable ZoomText. This will turn off everything but leave the program running. To enable it again just use the same command.