New Features in JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion for April 2021

The information below has been taken directly from Freedom Scientific. Check out my brief comments in the All Wrapped Up section, after the new features are listed. Updates are separated by headings making it easy to jump to your software of choice.

Updates for JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion April 2021)

The following are a list of improvements made in the latest JAWS 2021, Fusion 2021, and ZoomText 2021 release. To download, select JAWS 2021, Fusion 2021, or ZoomText 2021. You must be logged on as an administrator to install this software.

Voice Assistant

  • By default, Voice Assistant listens for the word “sharky” for JAWS and “zoomy” for ZoomText and Fusion before accepting any commands. However, to help decrease the possibility of starting Voice Assistant when you didn’t intend to, you now have the option to say the phrase “hey sharky” or “hey zoomy” instead. To configure this for JAWS, navigate to the Voice Assistant group in Settings Center and change the Wake word option. To configure it for ZoomText and Fusion, select the Voice Assistant split-button located in the Tools toolbar tab, and select “Listen for wake word ‘Hey Zoomy’.”
  • It is no longer necessary to say the word “toggle” when turning on or off features including Audio Ducking, Screen Shade, Speech On Demand, and the Virtual Cursor. For example, saying “Audio Ducking” now turns this feature on or off depending on the current state.
  • When changing the speech rate, you now only need to say “voice rate” followed by a number. For example, “voice rate 50” sets the speech rate to 50 percent. You can even just say the number, and the speech rate will change appropriately.
  • To launch the JAWS Dictionary Manager, you now only need to say “dictionary.”
  • Voice Assistant now immediately stops listening once you have spoken a command. This helps in situations where someone else may begin talking which could cause Voice Assistant to not process the command correctly.
  • Voice commands that generate speech output now work as expected even if JAWS and Fusion are set to Speech On Demand.

PlaceMarkers Now Available in Excel Workbooks

You can now use Placemarkers to mark cells in an Excel workbook similar to how they are used in Word documents. The following commands are now supported:

  • Set a PlaceMarker on the current cell, press CTRL+WINDOWS+K. Only one PlaceMarker can be set per worksheet.
  • Move to the cell PlaceMarker on the current worksheet, press ALT+WINDOWS+K. To move to a cell PlaceMarker on another worksheet, first press CTRL+PAGE UP or CTRL+PAGE DOWN to move to the specific worksheet.
  • List all cell PlaceMarkers in the workbook, press ALT+CTRL+WINDOWS+K.
  • Select all cells between the cell PlaceMarker and your current location, press INSERT+SPACEBAR followed by M.

Microsoft Teams

  • Updated the JAWS INSERT+W help to now include all currently available Teams keystrokes.
  • Resolved an issue in Teams where messages were double speaking in chat pop out windows.
  • If you press CTRL+PERIOD to display all Teams commands, JAWS now also reminds you about using INSERT+W as an easier way to access this information.
  • Removed the ALT+T command as you can now use the Teams keystroke, CTRL+3, to move focus to the Teams and Channels tree view.

Support for Reading Comments and Other Revision Types in Google Docs

In Google Docs, JAWS and Fusion now indicate the following as you navigate documents:

  • Text that includes comments. When JAWS indicates you are in a section of text that has a comment, press ALT+SHIFT+APOSTROPHE to read the associated comment including any replies. Press ALT+SHIFT+APOSTROPHE twice quickly to activate the Virtual Cursor and move focus to the comment details page. Press ESC to return to the document.
  • Text that has been inserted or deleted.
  • Text that is highlighted or has been called out for some reason, such as a section of text in a document currently being edited by another user. JAWS says “mark” and “end mark” as you move in and out of this highlighted text.

If you prefer to not receive announcements for one or more of these items, open Settings Center and turn off Comment announcement, Inserted text announcement, Deleted text announcement, or Marked text announcement. All of these options are located in the Proofing group under Text Processing.

New Installation Command Line Option for Disabling External Services

Starting with the April 2021 releases of JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion, when performing a full install, IT professionals and network administrators can add the /DisableExternalServices command line option to turn off all product features that reach out to the internet. For example:
c:\\InstallerPackage.exe /DisableExternalServices

Once JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion is installed after using this command line option, features that are no longer available for use include Research It, FS Support Tool, Voice Assistant, Error Reporting, JAWS Tandem, Picture Smart, and Anonymous Usage Data Collection. Note that using the software in a remote access environment will still be available. Turning off features that connect to the internet is especially important for installs in secure locations such as banks, hospitals, and government agencies.

For more information, run the setup package with the /Help command line option.

Other Changes

  • When joining a Zoom meeting and you are prompted to enter your name, addressed an issue where JAWS was not reading the name in the edit field if the screen resolution was set to 150 percent, which is common on most modern laptops. This caused users to enter their name again which in turn caused it to be read multiple times in meetings. This fix also resolved an issue with selecting text in console windows at high resolution settings.
  • In Excel, resolved a reported issue where JAWS was saying “entering table” when pressing F2 to edit a cell’s contents.
  • When navigating a worksheet in Excel using the mouse in JAWS or Fusion, cell contents are now read first followed by the cell coordinates.
  • In Microsoft Word, when encountering text in a document that is both a heading and a link, resolved a reported issue where JAWS was not indicating the link.
  • Addressed a reported issue where JAWS was unexpectedly displaying an error message in Outlook when pressing ALT+SHIFT+L from the body of a new message to list misspelled words.
  • Starting with the April 2021 updates of JAWS and Fusion, Grammar detection in Settings Center is on by default for all application except Word and Outlook. This enabled JAWS and Fusion to automatically announce grammatical errors in web-based editors like Google Docs. See the following TSN for more details.
  • Updated the descriptions in JAWS Commands Search (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J) for the Append Selected Text to Clipboard (INSERT+WINDOWS+C) and View Clipboard Text (INSERT+SPACEBAR, C) commands to help clarify that these features are especially useful when you only want to copy and paste text without extra formatting.
  • Resolved a reported issue where JAWS was not indicating the state of check boxes in the BARD Express app in braille.
  • Addressed a reported issue where Tandem Direct was not available when running JAWS in Remote Desktop or Citrix.
  • Removed the Business Search Research It lookup source due to changes to the website which no longer allows us to retrieve information.
  • Removed the ability to use JAWS to customize message lists in Mozilla Thunderbird based on changes in the way list views are presented which caused this feature to no longer work as expected in this application.
  • Turkish is now included as an available language option during a full install.

Other ZoomText Changes

  • Resolved an issue where the title of the current window was repeated while navigating in it.
  • Resolved an issue where AppReader would mistake abbreviations (such as the salutations Mr. or Ms.) as the end of a sentence.
  • Resolved reported issues with the Background reader app.
  • Resolved an issue where reading zones were not working correctly in Chrome and Edge.
  • Resolved an issue where ZoomText would shut down after starting Background Reader.
  • Resolved an issue where switching among applications with different color enhancement settings would cause the screen to freeze.
  • Resolved an issue where focus tracking would not work in Word after unlocking a computer.
  • Improved overall stability and performance of focus and cursor tracking in Outlook 2016, Excel 2010 and Excel 2016.

All Wrapped Up

That’s it for JAWS, ZoomText and Fusion this time around.

What I like are the new hotkeys list for Google Docs, PlaceMarkers in Excel, and the new list of hotkeys in teams. These changes will make things a bit more uniform and discoverable for everyone.

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.


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