New Features in Jaws, ZT, and Fusion

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.


Enhancements in JAWS 2021.2102.34 and Fusion 2021.2102.20 (February 2021)

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

Virtual Cursor Support Now Available in Windows 10 Universal Apps

The Virtual PC Cursor, used to read web pages, PDF documents, and emails in JAWS and Fusion, has been extended to work in Windows universal applications. Universal apps are usually obtained from the Microsoft Store, however some apps, such as Weather or the Calculator, are pre-installed as part of Windows.

Once the Virtual Cursor is enabled in a universal app, it greatly improves the reading experience by allowing you to:

  • Use the ARROW keys to navigate the app’s contents just like a web page.
  • Use Navigation Quick Keys to quickly move to specific elements like Regions, Headings, lists, tables, form fields, and more.
  • Display a list of links (INSERT+F7), headings (INSERT+F6), and form controls (INSERT+F5).
  • Use Forms Mode to type text or interact with other controls.

Currently, Weather is the only app where the Virtual Cursor is on by default. As you use other universal apps, press INSERT+Z to manually activate the Virtual Cursor and try navigating to see if you notice any improvements with how JAWS reads.

Pressing INSERT+Z is used to toggle the Virtual Cursor in HTML applications. However, if focus is in a universal app, pressing INSERT+Z results in JAWS announcing that the Virtual Cursor is toggled for UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps and the UWP virtual cursor is temporarily toggled for the current UWP app. If you decide you want the UWP Virtual Cursor enabled by default for a particular app, open Settings Center (INSERT+6 on the number row) from the app and select the Enable Virtual Cursor for Windows Universal Apps check box.

Note: While the Virtual Cursor may greatly improve the experience when using certain universal apps, there will be many of these apps where there is really no need for the Virtual Cursor. A great example where users will not need to use the Virtual Cursor is the Windows Calculator as it works well using the default cursor and you can easily navigate using the TAB Key and ARROW keys to find all controls. The Calculator doesn’t have static text like in the Weather app that you would need to read.

Other Changes

  • When focused in a Teams chat, pressing INSERT+T now indicates the current status of the other participant along with the window title.
  • If focused on a link and you press INSERT+F1 for screen-sensitive help, the link address is displayed at the top of the help window. This enables you to quickly verify the source of a link in an email message or on a web page if there is concern that it could be a phishing link.
  • You can now type text from a braille display into a Microsoft Teams chat using contracted braille input.
  • Added a new JAWS Dictionary entry for “QA.”
  • In Google Docs, resolved an issue where an extra “blank” announcement was heard when reading by word.
  • Resolved reported issues that occurred when trying to re-authenticate credentials for an online Microsoft account. After typing the first character, JAWS exited Forms Mode and you were unable to complete the process with JAWS running.
  • Resolved a reported issue where JAWS was not automatically reading the state of check boxes in the Grammar Settings dialog box of the Proofing options for Word.
  • Addressed a reported issue where JAWS was not reading as expected when attempting to search for special characters in Word, such as a manual page break.
  • If a graphic in a Word document is selected and the document contains multiple graphics, when the TAB key is used to move through the different graphics, JAWS now announces the kind of image and its text alignment. Additionally, the type of image is indicated when reading the current line, and reading by word or character indicates the alignment and dimensions of the image. If you prefer not to hear the alignment and dimensions of graphics, open Quick Settings (INSERT+V) and clear the Include Graphical Dimensions and Include Graphic Alignment Description check boxes.
  • Addressed issues with JAWS sometimes double speaking in Microsoft Office when toggling bold, italics, or underline.
  • Resolved reported issues of Volume fluctuating with JAWS and Fusion while navigating Word documents using the Proof Reading Scheme. Moving quickly through the document with the ARROW keys was much worse than navigating slowly and letting it finish reading.
  • Resolved a PowerPoint issue related to opening a slide show using something referred to as “Browsed by an individual (window)” rather than the expected, “Presented by Speaker (full screen).” Microsoft has now added a change to UIA in PowerPoint versions greater than 16.0.13517 which allows JAWS to read the slide show in either case.
  • When editing Alt text for graphics in PowerPoint using a braille display, resolved a reported issue where cursor routing was not working as expected.
  • Resolved an issue where the Avoid Speech Cut Off feature stopped working when using the Sound Cards option in the JAWS Utilities menu to switch to another sound device.
  • For users experiencing issues with JAWS and Fusion not reading as expected in the Windows 10 Start Menu, as well as in Universal apps including Weather or Calculator, open JAWS Settings Center (INSERT+6), press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the Default File, search for “start”, and select the Start menu: Access-Out-of-Process check box.
  • Addressed a reported issue where JAWS language detection on web pages was not working as expected for Mandarin text, even if the page used the correct language tags and a Mandarin Vocalizer Expressive voice was installed. Note that this change only affects the default Vocalizer Expressive voice profile for each language. Refer to this Technical Support Notice for details on applying this change to any custom voice profiles.

Enhancements in ZoomText 2021.2102.20 (February 2021)

The following changes are in the latest ZoomText 2021 update. To download, select ZoomText 2021. You must be logged on as an administrator to install this software.

  • The ZoomText Support Settings tab and dialog is new. It lets you easily choose whether or not to send error reports to Freedom Scientific . You can also choose whether or not to send anonymous data to help Freedom Scientific improve its software.
  • Resolved instability issues in Outlook 2019 when correcting spelling (using the Editor’s suggested spelling or words) while either composing a new message or replying to a message.
  • Resolved an issue where ZoomText could lose tracking when changing settings via the ZoomText UI and then returning focus back to an Office 365 or Office 2016 app.
  • Resolved an issue in Excel 2010 where focus tracking would unexpectedly jump between a cell and the ribbon.
  • Resolved an issue in Word 2010 where cursor tracking would disappear once you stopped typing.
  • Resolved an issue in Google Chrome where you could not create reading zones or save Chrome application settings.
  • Resolved an issue where mouse echo was not reading when moving or hovering over text and menu items with the mouse pointer. This occurred in both Chrome and Firefox when using Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets.
  • Resolved an issue where the cursor focus was not following the system cursor when typing in edit fields such as the Search box on web pages.
  • Resolved an issue in Chrome where ZoomText was not announcing check box labels in Chrome history.
  • Resolved an issue in the Chrome omnibox (where you type web addresses and search terms) where ZoomText would not move to or announce the Close button associated with search responses.
  • General Improvements in Chrome and Firefox for both stability and performance with ZoomText.

All Wrapped Up

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

What I like is the new virtual cursor enhancements in Windows 10 applications. This should help using those nifty apps from the Windows 10 store. Try the weather app.

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.


1 thought on “New Features in Jaws, ZT, and Fusion”

  1. I haven’t tried the weather app or the calculator, but I tried using the virtual cursor in the mail app and found that it doesn’t work as well there. This is too bad, since navigating in a mesage is tricky. I get stuck while tabbing around and have to close and reopen the message in order to get JAWS to read anything. Elements lists don’t always list all available elements. I’ve discovered that the best way to navigate is to use the arrow keys and not try moving to certain types of elements such as links or buttons. I hope Freedom Scientific will provide more support in JAWS for the Windows Mail app in the future.

What's in your head about what you just read?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.