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Using screen readers and JAWS scripts with SecureCRT®

Note: This tip is for use with SecureCRT for Windows®.

Screen readers are indispensable tools for the computer user or IT professional who is visually impaired or blind. SecureCRT is compatible with a variety of screen readers, such as Freedom Scientific's JAWS and GW Micro's Window-Eyes. You can optimize your screen reader's behavior with SecureCRT using scripts. This tip discusses the JAWS scripting capability, and provides sample JAWS scripts that can help you make the most of your SecureCRT work environment.

Without scripts, JAWS automatically speaks the SecureCRT menus and controls when you use them. In order for JAWS to speak the text inside the emulation window, the JAWS echo text setting must be set to "ALL", which causes JAWS to speak all text that has changed or is new on your computer screen. This can be distracting since you hear content that might be extraneous, such as the announcement of the clock change every minute.

To customize how the terminal emulation window text is spoken, Harald van Breederode, a DBA trainer at Oracle Nederland BV, wrote a group of scripts that let you be more selective about what information the screen reader speaks and ignores.

The main function in the scripts is the NewTextEvent function, which is called by JAWS whenever the content of the computer screen changes and determines what is spoken. The NewTextEvent function re-sends all screen text when the screen contents get refreshed, for example, when you switch sessions or when you ALT+TAB back into SecureCRT.

By default, the example scripts tell JAWS to speak new text that appears in the emulation window. This echoing can be toggled by pressing the JAWSKey+X. The script announces itself whenever SecureCRT is launched and announces the session title whenever you switch sessions with CTRL+TAB and when you ALT+TAB into SecureCRT. Pressing JAWSKey+H gives an overview of the hotkeys used within the scripts. If you need to re-read screen contents, you can walk with the JAWS cursor and the screen will scroll up and down as needed.

Below you'll find links to these documented JAWS script files for use with SecureCRT. One set of the scripts have been packaged with a program called JawsScripteXchange, a self-extracting executable. Just double-click on the executable file to install the scripts in the correct directories. A ReadMe file will be displayed after the installation is complete. A WinZip file containing the scripts is also provided, if you prefer a manual installation. After downloading the zip file, extract the scripts to your JAWS \settings\enu directory. If you are not familiar with JAWS scripting, you should first review the JAWS Basics of Scripting Manual.

You will also want to make sure that the SecureCRT Global Options are configured for the greatest accessibility by following these steps:

  1. Open the SecureCRT program window and press ALT+O for Options, then G for Global Options.
  2. Move to the Default Session item in the tree of available option groups.
  3. Press ALT+S to activate the "Edit default settings" button.
  4. Navigate to the Appearance item in the tree of session options groups.
  5. Press ALT+Y to move to the "Cursor style" combo box and make sure that "Vertical Bar" is selected.
  6. Activate the OK button by hitting the carriage return.
  7. Press ALT+A to apply the changes in the default settings to all of your existing sessions settings, or press N to only apply the changes to the current and future session settings.
  8. Navigate to the Terminal/Appearance item in the tree of option groups.
  9. Press ALT+K and ensure that the "Use trackable insertion caret" check box is checked.
  10. Activate the OK button to close the Global Options dialog.
  11. Press ALT+O for Options, then N to "Save settings now". This step is not required, but ensures that changes will be applied.

Note: These scripts have been provided by Harald Van Breederode, who is not affiliated with VanDyke Software. VanDyke Software cannot guarantee the scripts will operate as indicated. Questions about these scripts can be directed to Harald Van Breederode at . Harald van Breederode has provided these samples for your convenience, and cannot guarantee that they will operate as intended and is not responsible for any problems that may arise from operating these scripts. Before using these scripts, we recommend that you read information about creating and using JAWS scripts on the Freedom Scientific web site.

Additional resources for JAWS scripts and other accessible IT products: