New Features in Jaws, ZoomText, and Fusion

New Features in JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion

The information below has been taken directly from Freedom Scientific. Updates are separated by headings making it easy to jump to your software of choice. Note that some of the features may overlap between JAWS, Fusion, and ZoomText as they routinely share features among the three products.

Enhancements in ZoomText 2023.2302.8 and Fusion 2023.2302.6 (February 2023)

The following is a list of new features and improvements made between the December 2022 release and the February 2023 update.

True Center Tracking

True Center Tracking is a new alignment and tracking feature in ZoomText and Fusion. As you move the mouse, type text, and navigate menus, dialogs and other program controls, the zoom window automatically scrolls to keep the focus in view. This is known as tracking. Alignment controls how the zoom window scrolls to keep tracked items in view.

In earlier versions of ZoomText and Fusion, there is only one center tracking option. It scrolls the zoom window to keep the tracked object centered in the magnified view. However, as you approach the edge of the screen, the mouse pointer leaves the center and moves toward the edge. This option is still available and is the default for center tracking. It is enabled by selecting the Centered within the zoom window option in the Alignment tab in the Navigation Settings.

With the addition of True Center Tracking, the focus is always in the center of the screen just like traditional center tracking. The big difference is that as you approach the edge of the screen, the edge now moves to the center of the viewing area, and a background color appears and fills the area beyond the edge of the Windows desktop.

True Center Tracking along with the background color as it appears when navigating with the mouse pointer near the edge of the Windows desktop. The mouse pointer is in the center of the image with focus on the Start menu. The background color is black.


Image showing True Center Tracking when navigating near the edge of the Windows desktop.

To setup True Center Tracking, do the following:

Note: True Center Tracking is only available when the Zoom Window Type is set to Full and you are using one monitor or a single display duplicated across multiple monitors.

  1. On the Magnifier toolbar tab, select the Navigation button.
  2. In the Navigation menu, choose Alignment.

    Magnifier toolbar tab with the Navigation button and Alignment option selected.

    The Navigation Settings dialog appears with the Alignment tab displayed.

    Alignment tab with mouse pointer, text cursor, control and menu items, and center alignment settings. A red arrow shows the location of the center alignment options.

  3. True Center Tracking is off by default. You must choose at least one or more Centered within the zoom window options to make the Center alignment options available in the Navigation Settings dialog.
  4. Select Enable true center tracking, Enable true center tracking at 1x, or both to use True Center Tracking for magnified and 1x magnification.
  5. Choose a Background color that best suits your viewing preferences. The background color becomes visible when you are scrolling and navigating near the edge of the Windows desktop.
  6. Click OK. Focus now moves to the center of the screen.
  7. To save True Center Tracking changes, in the ZoomText menu, choose Configurations > Save As Default.

Smooth Mouse Panning and Sensitivity

When using high magnification levels, you may experience jumpiness and frequent motion of the magnified view while typing, when scrolling lists and other items, or when using the mouse to pan the screen. Two new panning settings have been added to help with this problem.

Smooth mouse panning is helpful when using your mouse to pan across the screen, to move to a new location in a document, or to view an image. After enabling the feature, you can press and hold SHIFT and then move your mouse to smoothly move in the magnified view.

Panning sensitivity defines when ZoomText and Fusion start using smooth panning when moving in the magnified view. With lower sensitivity, smooth panning is more noticeable when moving smaller distances or increments. With higher sensitivity, smooth panning is more noticeable when moving greater distances such as jumping from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line while typing. Smooth panning is faster when using a lower sensitivity.

To set up Smooth Panning and Sensitivity, do the following:

  1. On the Magnifier toolbar tab, select the Navigation button.

    Magnifier toolbar tab with the Navigation button and Panning option selected.

  2. In the Navigation menu, choose Panning.

    The Navigation Settings dialog appears with the Panning tab displayed.

  3. Select Enable smooth panning to make the Panning options available.
  4. Select Use smooth panning for the mouse.
  5. Adjust the mouse panning sensitivity as desired.
  6. Click OK.
  7. To save smooth mouse panning and sensitivity changes, in the ZoomText menu, choose Configurations > Save As Default.

Audio Speech Cutoff

To conserve battery life, Bluetooth headphones enter Power-saving mode when no audio is received. As a result, when speech is detected and the headphones wake up, the first few characters of speech may be clipped and not heard.

If you experience this, you can enable the Avoid Speech Cutoff setting. This will keep your headphones awake by constantly playing silence. You will not hear anything, but your headphones will remain active, resulting in consistent speech. Audio Speech Cutoff is off by default.

Note: Your headphones’ battery may drain faster if you choose to use this feature.

To enable and disable Audio Speech Cutoff, do the following:

  1. On the Reader toolbar tab, click the arrow next to Voice or navigate to Voice and press the down arrow key.
  2. In the Voice menu, choose Settings. The Voice Settings dialog appears.
  3. Choose the Audio tab.
  4. Select or clear the Enable Avoid Speech Cutoff check box.
  5. Click OK.
  6. To save changes, in the ZoomText menu, choose Configurations > Save As Default.

    Audio tab in the Voice Settings dialog box.

Freeze View – Early Adopter Program Updates

  • Freeze View now supports multiple monitors with the following zoom window types: Span, Clone, Zoom with 1x, and MultiView Global.
  • Freeze View windows can be moved between multiple monitors when the zoom window type is set to Span.
  • The toggle freeze view commands (CAPS LOCK + CTRL + 1…4) can now be used to create Freeze View windows if they do not already exist. For example, if there are no saved Freeze Views, you can press CAPS LOCK + CTRL +1 to create Freeze View 1. Once it is created, you can press the same keystroke to toggle Freeze View 1 on and off.
  • When a Freeze View is created, it uses the current magnification level. For example, if you create a Freeze View while at 2x magnification, and you later toggle to 1x magnification, the contents of the Freeze View will still display at 2x magnification.

Tethered View Update

  • Tethered View now supports MultiView Global in addition to the following zoom window types: Full, Docked, MultiView Local, Clone, Span, and Zoom with 1x.

Other Changes

  • Resolved an issue where cursor tracking would disappear after using the Navigation pane in a Word document.
  • Resolved an issue where Word would unexpectedly close when typing in a comment when using Tethered View.
  • Resolved a cursor tracking issue found when creating an email message in Outlook. After navigating from the To: and Cc: fields in an email header, the cursor would disappear when you moved to the Subject: field. This has been fixed.
  • When using dual monitors in a Citrix environment, focus tracking could appear on the wrong screen. This has been fixed.
  • Stability improvements have been made for certain laptops with dedicated graphics cards. It was reported that when using multiple monitors, a black screen could appear on the second display. This issue has been resolved.

Enhancements in JAWS 2023.2302.15 (February 2023)

The following is a list of improvements made between the December 2022 release and the February 2023 update.

Improved Support for WhatsApp

JAWS now includes Scripts for the popular WhatsApp messaging application. This support is for the desktop app available from the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 and later. For more information about WhatsApp and its features, visit WhatsApp.com.

JAWS offers several new features that improve the experience when interacting with messages as well as making and receiving audio and video calls. Some of these include:

  • Automatically announce incoming chat messages and play a sound when a contact is typing. Additionally, new Quick Settings (INSERT+V) options are now available to turn off these automatic announcements if needed.
  • Use ALT+1 through 9 on the number row to review the most recent nine messages. Add SHIFT to display the message in the Virtual Viewer.
  • New keystrokes for quickly moving to the chat edit field (ALT+E), the chat list (ALT+C), or the chat history (ALT+H).

For a complete list of available JAWS keystrokes for WhatsApp, press INSERT+H.

For a complete list of WhatsApp keystrokes, press INSERT+W.

Updated FSDN Now Available

For those who create JAWS scripts to help improve performance with various applications, the Freedom Scientific Developer Network (FSDN) is a complete scripting reference manual documenting all scripts, user-defined functions, and built-in functions found in JAWS. This update includes documentation for all the latest scripts and functions as of JAWS 2023 and also contains new topics on ZoomText scripting. Visit the FSDN web page to download the latest FSDN reference guide.

Other Changes

  • In the JAWS Notification History, you can now customize the order of user created notification rules. To reorder rules, press INSERT+SPACEBAR followed by N to open the Notification History, choose Manage Rules, select the rule you want to reorder, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+UP or DOWN ARROW to move it up or down in the list. Reordering rules is especially useful for conflicting rules since the first rule that matches the incoming notification is always applied. Changing the order allows you to move rules that apply to very specific situations to the top of the list, followed by more generic rules with less strict criteria.
  • In PowerPoint, resolved an issue where JAWS was not correctly respecting the reading order of slide content as defined by the author.
  • If Outlook is configured to show messages by conversation, resolved an issue where JAWS was not indicating the expanded or collapsed state of the conversation thread while navigating the message list.
  • Resolved an issue where pressing INSERT+F11 was not listing all of the System Tray items in Windows 11.
  • Addressed an issue in BARD Express where JAWS was truncating long entries like book titles and annotations, making it difficult to read all the details for a book.
  • Addressed an issue where the braille cursor was not displayed in the correct location in the Visual Studio Code editor.
  • Addressed an issue in Visual Studio Code where JAWS was not speaking autocomplete results as you typed.
  • Addressed an issue with multiple ARIA live region updates that use the aria-atomic attribute where JAWS was announcing all updates instead of the most recent one.
  • Addressed issues where Forms Mode would not activate as expected on certain edit controls. For example, the Search edit box on play.google.com.
  • When adding items to a list in Google Docs, resolved an issue where JAWS was announcing the total number of items in the list each Time ENTER was pressed to add a new item. JAWS should now only announce the number of list items when navigating into a list.
  • Resolved an issue in Google Sheets where JAWS was not speaking cell coordinates like “A1” or “B1” while navigating a spreadsheet.
  • Updated the JAWS tutor help for Teams to make it clearer which pair of ARROW keys to use when navigating various application tool bars and tab controls.
  • Resolved an issue with LibreOffice Calc crashing when attempting to navigate a spreadsheet with JAWS and a braille display.
  • It is no longer necessary to make changes in the Windows registry in order to use JAWS and Fusion with Citrix Virtual Delivery Agent (VDA). For more details, refer to the following TSN: Issues with authorizing JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion in newer versions of Citrix.
  • In response to customer feedback, Braille Structured Mode now handles the display of hot keys as it did prior to the December 2022 update.
  • The Liblouis braille translator used by JAWS and Fusion has been updated to version 3.24.0 and is now selected by default.
  • In the English version of JAWS, resolved an issue where Dutch Belgium was incorrectly using Liblouis for Computer Braille.
  • Added support for the Russian NewFon SAPI5 voice.

Getting the Updates

If your version of JAWS hasn’t offered the update to you yet, go to the JAWS help menu, then arrow to Check for Updates.

If your ZoomText/Fusion hasn’t offered the update to you yet, go to the ZoomText/Fusion menu, navigate to Manage Licenses, then Check for Updates. Note, because this is a new version entirely you will need to manually download JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion.

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