Student’s Materials for IT Training Part 1 Jaws Version

Welcome to this Introductory IT Course.

We hope that after taking this course you will have a greater understanding of what people with vision impairments can achieve using a PC and that you will have learnt some basic IT skills.

The course aims to make you more familiar with the PC as an everyday tool that allows you to perform a wide range of tasks, such as writing documents, sending e-mails, or finding information on the Internet.

Course structure

This course is comprised of a series of short sessions on a range of subjects. Each session includes a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a number of mini-exercises.

Try to find time to practise the exercises between sessions, either at home or at the training centre. Make sure that your home computer has the same keyboard layout and overall configuration as the one you use in class.

The course is divided into two parts.

Part 1

The first part aims to show you the basics of what you can do with a PC. You will see how it's possible to write letters or send e-mails even if your vision is low or totally impaired.

You will be introduced to assistive software, that is, software designed to improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. This course is based on one such program, JAWS, a screen-reader which tells you what your PC is displaying on-screen using synthesized speech.

Part 2

This is a more thorough investigation of the JAWS screen-reader and the PC in general. You will learn how to open and close programs, save and open files, create documents and e-mails and surf the World Wide Web.

The aim of Part 2 is to get you to a point where you can use JAWS to work on your own, and to qualify you for further IT training.

A word of encouragement

Lots of people with vision impairments use computers for reading and writing. Even though it may seem hard to learn, most people agree that it was worth the effort.

Be patient, have confidence in yourself, and, most of all, have fun!

Session 1

In this session we will cover the following topics:

  • PC hardware, including the keyboard
  • Windows, JAWS and other important software
  • Using JAWS Keyboard Help
  • Turning the computer on and off

PC basics

PC is short for personal computer.

The components of a PC can be divided into two broad categories:

  • hardware - the computer's physical components
  • software - the electronic data, or code, that runs on the computer

Key hardware components

Some of the computer's most important hardware components include the following.

The system unit

The system unit is a case or cabinet that contains all the components that make your computer work. It normally sits on a desk or on the floor.

Some of the key components contained in the system unit are

  • the hard disk - a magnetic disk where all the programs and data that you are working on are stored
  • the processor - the brains of the computer, where most calculations take place
  • the sound card - the component that enables your PC to manipulate and output sound

The monitor

This is where the programs and your work are displayed on-screen.

If you have a vision impairment, you can find out what is happening on-screen by means of a screen-reader, such as JAWS.

The mouse

The mouse is a pointer device for marking and selecting on-screen items. As you move the mouse across a flat surface, an on-screen arrow, known as a cursor, follows its movements.

Any action that can be done using a mouse can also be done from the keyboard, so you can ignore the mouse. What your sighted colleagues do with a mouse, you can do with your keyboard.

The keyboard

The keyboard is an essential part of your computer. It is the mechanism by which you tell the computer what to do by pressing individual keys or combinations of keys.

You must be familiar with all the keys in the keyboard to be able to navigate your PC using JAWS.

The keyboard is divided into five main sections:

  • main typewriter keyboard, comprising all the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and punctuation symbols
  • numeric keypad, situated in the right of the keyboard, it contains the numbers 0 to 9 and some other symbols. It can also be used for entering commands in JAWS.
  • Arrow keys, situated next to the right Ctrl key. It comprises the up, down, right, and left arrow keys.
  • Six Pack, situated above the arrow keys. It comprises the Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys.
  • Function keys (F1 - F12), located in a row across the top of the keyboard, they perform different functions in different programs

List of keys

Here is a list of the most important keys:

  • Spacebar - The largest key in the bottom row of the main keyboard. It is used to separate letters and words while writing text.
  • Alt - Located on the left of the spacebar. You use it in combination with other keys to enter commands in different programs.
  • Windows logo key - Located between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left of the spacebar, and sometimes also to the right of Alt Gr. It displays the Windows Start menu and can be combined with other key presses to perform tasks specific to Microsoft Windows.
  • Shift - The two Shift keys, one on the far left, the other on the far right of the main keyboard, allow you to type letters in upper case, and to type some of the other symbols associated with particular keys. The Shift key can also be used in conjunction with other keys for entering commands.
  • Ctrl - The two Ctrl keys, one on the far left, the other on the far right of the bottom row of the main keyboard, are used in conjunction with other keys for entering commands.
  • Alt Gr - Situated on the right of the spacebar. You use it in conjunction with other keys for entering special characters or commands.
  • Context menu key - Located on the right, between Ctrl and the right Windows logo key. This is the keyboard equivalent of right-clicking with your mouse. It provides a menu of choices for the item currently selected on-screen.
  • Caps Lock - Located above the left Shift key. When Caps Lock is turned on, all the letters you type will appear in upper case.
  • Tab - Situated above the Caps Lock key. It is used for navigating between options in dialog boxes, and for vertically aligning text in a document in word processing programs.
  • Esc - Located in the upper left corner. Enables you to close a menu or dialog box without making any selections.
  • Enter - Placed above the right Shift key. Used for making new paragraphs in text, and for entering commands to the machine.
  • Backspace - Located above the Enter key. Deletes the character to the left of the text cursor.

Other devices

A printer is a machine connected to the PC for printing documents.

When using JAWS, you need to have speakers plugged in to your PC so that they can hear the screen-reader. Alternatively, they can use headphones to avoid disturbing other people in the same room.

A scanner is a device that can copy images or text into your computer so that they can be stored in electronic format.

Key software components

Software refers to the electronic data that is stored on your computer. Some of the software programs that you will need to use are listed below.


JAWS is a screen-reader program that reads out whatever is currently displayed on screen using synthesized speech.

Normally, JAWS automatically launches when you start up your computer.


Microsoft Windows is the most important program on your computer. It is your computer's operating system, a special program that controls how the hardware and software interact with each other, with other devices, and with you, the user.

When you turn on your computer, the first program that runs is Windows.

The desktop

When the PC starts up the first thing to appear on screen is normally the Windows desktop. Compare it to a real desktop where the tools you need often are used. Here you can add shortcuts to programs and files that you use frequently.

The Start menu

The Windows Start menu is activated by pressing the Windows logo key or the Ctrl + Esc key combination.

From the Start menu you can

  • launch programs
  • shut down the computer
  • launch Windows Help

The taskbar

The Windows taskbar is normally located along the bottom of screen. It tells you what programs are currently running.

Try this

Turn on your computer and listen to the different sounds it makes as it starts up. Listen out for

  • the sound of the hard disk and floppy drive
  • the Windows Logon sound
  • the JAWS application sound

Let the teacher shut down the PC. Try to start the PC several times until you recognise the pattern.

Launching, shutting down, and interrupting JAWS

To launch JAWS, press Ctrl+ Alt + J.

To shut down JAWS, press Insert + F4 followed by Enter.

Sometimes you will want to interrupt the screen-reader. You can do this by pressing the Ctrl key.

Using JAWS Keyboard Help

One way to learn the keyboard is to use JAWS Keyboard Help, which tells you what keys have been pressed as you press them. Your key presses will have no effect while Keyboard Help is running.

You can launch Keyboard Help by pressing Insert + 1.

Try this

Start JAWS Keyboard Help and find the following:

  • Arrow keys
  • Six Pack
  • Windows logo key
  • Ctrl
  • Esc
  • Tab
  • Function keys

Shutting down the computer correctly

Always be sure to shut down the computer correctly. The following keys are used for shutting down the PC:

  • Windows logo key
  • Arrow keys
  • Enter

Make sure you know where these keys are.

To shut down your computer:

  1. Press the Windows logo key to display the Start menu.
  2. Use the arrow keys to investigate the options in the Start menu.
  3. Select the Shut down option and press Enter.
  4. In the Shut Down Windows dialog box, select the Shut down option and press Enter.

Your computer will now shut down. Try starting it again. Shut it down and start it up several times until you feel familiar with the process.


  1. Start the PC.
  2. Launch JAWS if it is not already running.
  3. Find the Tab key on your keyboard.
  4. Keep tabbing between the desktop, Start button and taskbar.
  5. Activate the Start menu.
  6. Investigate all the items in the Start menu.
  7. Close the Start menu by pressing Esc.
  8. Stop JAWS and restart it.
  9. Shut down and start the computer several times.

10)Press Insert + F12. What time is it?


How do I start the computer?

Answer: Press the Power button on the system unit.

How do I shut down the computer?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key, select Shut Down, and then press Enter.Select the Shut down option and press Enter.

How do I launch JAWS?

Answer: Press Ctrl+ Alt + J.

How do I shut down JAWS?

Answer: Press Insert + F4 then Enter.

How do I activate the Start menu?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key or press Ctrl + Esc.

How do I exit the Start menu?

Answer: Press Esc.

How do I execute a selection that I have made?

Answer: Press Enter.

How do I interrupt the screen-reader?

Answer: Press Ctrl.

How do I investigate options in a menu or list?

Answer: Use the up arrow up and down arrow keys.

Session 2

This session deals with the following topics:

  • Rebooting your machine
  • Launching programs
  • Dealing with a crash
  • Using e-mail

Rebooting your machine

Every time your computer starts up, it loads the operating system and other basic software. This is known as booting the machine.

Sometimes you may need to reboot your computer. If it is getting increasingly slow, a reboot can be a good idea.

To reboot your computer:

  1. Press the Windows logo key.
  2. From the Start menu, select Shut Down.
  3. Choose the Restart option.
  4. Press Enter or click OK.

Dealing with a crash

Sometimes your computer may simply stop working. No matter what keys you press, nothing happens. This is known as a "crash".

You have two choices when your machine crashes:

  • If the machine has a Reset button, usually on the front of the system unit, press it once. This should restart the machine.
  • If pressing Reset has no effect, press the Power button on the system unit and keep it pressed for seven to ten seconds. The machine will shut down, allowing you to power it on again.

Every time you reboot your machine, try to follow the sounds it makes. If the start-up process stops - if you hear no sound from the hard disk for more than two or three minutes - press Esc.

Launching programs

While you can set up keyboard shortcuts to launch different programs, a common way to launch a program in Windows is from the Start menu. Here we're going to launch a simple text editor program called Notepad.

To launch Notepad from the Start menu:

  1. Press the Windows logo key.
  2. Use the up arrow until you find the Programs submenu and open it with the right arrow.
  3. Use the arrow keys to find and open the Accessories submenu.
  4. Use the down arrow to find the Notepad program and press Enter.
  5. Shut down Notepad by pressing Alt + F4.

Using e-mail

E-mail, or "electronic mail", allows you to use your computer to send messages electronically over a network of computers such as the Internet.

There are many different programs designed specifically for creating, sending, and receiving mail. Some web sites also provide a service known as "web mail" where you can access your e-mail using a web browser, without having to install additional software on your machine.

A popular e-mail program is Microsoft Outlook Express. Your teacher will show you how to launch it.

To be able to send and receive e-mail you need a computer with access to the Internet and an e-mail address. Here is an example of an e-mail address:

Reading through a file

The easiest way to read through a file, such as a text file, word processing document or e-mail, is to use the arrow keys:

  • The down arrow allows you to read the next line.
  • The up arrow allows you to read the previous line.

Try this

Open a document on your PC - ask the teacher to help you.

Use the down arrow key to read through the document line by line.


Here are some tasks that you can try outside class.

Launch a program from the Start menu

  1. Launch Notepad from the Start menu
  2. Shut down Notepad.

Practise rebooting and restarting the computer

  1. Reboot the computer from the start menu.
  2. Restart the computer from the reset button.
  3. Shut down the computer by switching off the power.

Practise pressing different keys

Try pressing these keys:

  • Ctrl
  • Alt Gr
  • Spacebar
  • Alt
  • Shift
  • Tab
  • Esc
  • Function keys
  • Insert
  • Delete
  • Enter
  • Arrow keys
  • Enter

Use e-mail

Ask your teacher to help with this exercise.

  1. Start an e-mail program.
  2. Send an e-mail to one of the other students in the class.


How do I open the Start menu?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key or Ctrl + Esc.

How do I close the Start menu?

Answer: Press Esc or press the Windows logo key again.

How do I start a program from the Start menu?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key, select Programs and scroll through the list of options until you find the program you want. Then press Enter.

How do I reboot the computer?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key, select Shut Down, then select the Restart option and press Enter.

How do I type the @ symbol?

Answer: On most English language keyboards, you type the @ symbol by pressing Shift + apostrophe.

How do I read through a file using JAWS?

Answer: Use the down arrow key to read down through a file.

Session 3

In this session, we will be dealing with

  • using a word processor
  • the menu and title bars

Using a word processor

The word processor is one of the most useful programs on your computer. It enables you to create, modify and read all kinds of documents, such as letters, e-mails, reports, and even courses like this.

Before PCs became commonplace, most business communication had to be written on typewriters. This was problematic for people with vision impairments, as they had no way of checking what they had written. They had to rely on sighted people to check for typing errors.

Today, typewriters have largely been replaced by word processing software.

Using a word processor, you can

  • hear what you're typing as you type with the help of a screen-reader
  • correct what you have written or insert extra text
  • move text from one part of the document to another
  • print your document
  • save your document on the computer
  • read documents written by other people

Launching Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is one of the most popular word processing programs.

To launch Word:

  1. Press the Windows logo key to display the Start menu.
  2. Select the Programs submenu.
  3. Select Microsoft Word and press Enter.

Using the title bar

At the top of every program that runs on Windows you'll find the title bar.

The title bar tells you the name of the program and the name of the current open file, for example Document 1 - Microsoft Word.

Press Insert + T to hear JAWS read the title bar of your current program.

The menu bar

Below the title bar you'll find the menu bar.

All programs have menus. A menu is a list of options that allow you to perform different tasks within the program. Most programs have at least four or five menus in the menu bar.

To go to the menu bar, press the Alt key once. You can then scroll from menu to menu and down through each menu using the arrow keys.

To leave the menu bar, press Esc.

Try moving to the menu bar and escaping several times. Listen to what JAWS tells you about the Word interface as you go.

The first menu in the left corner is called "Files". It contains a number of different options, such as saving your work, printing a document or closing the program.

Working with menus is covered in detail in Part 2 of this course.

The toolbar

Under the menu bar you'll find the toolbar. There are a number of different toolbars in Word, each one containing small images, known as "icons", symbolising different functions. Sighted users who use the mouse often use icons instead of menus or shortcuts.

The document area

Under the toolbar, or toolbars, you'll find the document area. This is where you type your text. Think of it as a sheet of paper.

In the upper left corner of the document you'll find the text cursor. Compare it to your pencil, or the head of your Perkins machine.

Try this

  1. Start from the desktop.
  2. Launch JAWS if it is not already running.
  3. Launch Microsoft Word from the Start menu.
  4. Listen to the JAWS information.
  5. Close Word again, using Alt + F4.
  6. Start Microsoft Word using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + W.
  7. Close Word again.

Important keys

When using a word processor some keys are important.

Enter creates a new paragraph.

Spacebar creates a space between letters or words.

Backspace deletes letters or spaces to the left of the cursor.

Arrow keys move the text cursor left, right, up and down in the document.


Here are some tasks that you can try outside class.

Launching Microsoft Word

  1. Press the Windows logo key.
  2. Use the up arrow until you find the Programs submenu and open it with the right arrow.
  3. Use the down arrow to find Microsoft Word and press Enter.
  4. Shut down Word by pressing Alt + F4.

Writing and deleting text

  1. Launch Word.
  2. Write your name in the edit field.
  3. Use the Backspace key to delete your name one letter at a time.

Moving the text cursor

  1. Write your name again.
  2. Press the left arrow key repeatedly until the cursor is at the start of your name.
  3. Move the cursor to the end of your name with the right arrow key.
  4. Write your address in the next line.
  5. Move the cursor around in the text using the up, down, left, and right arrow keys.

Typing and correcting text

  1. Type a short piece of text.
  2. Place the cursor to the right of one of the words and deleted it using Backspace.
  3. Write another word instead.

Practise this several times.

Printing text on paper

  1. Ensure your computer is connected to a printer.
  2. Open a document and ensure that it contains some text.
  3. Press Ctrl + P
  4. Press Enter.

Write a letter

  1. Open a new document.
  2. Write a short letter to somebody you know.
  3. Print it on paper.

Keyboard practice

Start JAWS Keyboard Help.

Find the position of these keys:

  • Ctrl
  • Left Windows logo key
  • Alt
  • Spacebar
  • Alt Gr
  • Right Windows logo key
  • Left Shift key
  • Tab
  • Esc
  • F1
  • F4
  • F7
  • Insert
  • Home
  • End
  • Arrow keys.


How do I launch Word from the Start menu?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key, select Programs, then Microsoft Word, press Enter.

How do I launch Word with a keyboard shortcut?

Answer: Press Ctrl + Alt + W.

How do I create a new paragraph in a document?

Answer: Press Enter.

How do I insert a space between letters or words?

Answer: Press the spacebar.

How do I delete letters left of the cursor?

Answer: Press Backspace.

How do I move the cursor to the right?

Answer: Press the right arrow key.

How do I move the cursor to the left?

Answer: Press the left arrow key.

How do I read the next line in the text?

Answer: Use the down arrow key.

How do I read the previous line in the text?

Answer: Use the up arrow.

How do I find the title bar?

Answer: Press Insert + T.

How do I shift focus to the menu bar?

Answer: Press Alt once.

How do I exit the menu bar?

Answer: Press Esc.

Session 4

In this session, we will be looking at

  • the Internet and the World Wide Web
  • using a web browser

The Internet

The Internet is a massive network of computers that spans the globe. It is a source of information and entertainment for millions of people all over the world.

Here are just some of the things you can do on the Internet:

  • Read the newspaper
  • Listen to radio programs
  • Find information on different topics, such as food, health, music, welfare for the blind, and so on
  • Find and contact different organisations
  • Take part in online discussions

The possibilities are endless.

The World Wide Web

A key part of the Internet is the World Wide Web, a vast collection of pages written in a special type of text, known as hypertext. Groups of web pages produced by single individuals or organisations are known as "web sites".


Hypertext allows the creators of web pages to include links to other parts of their site or to entirely different web sites, thus making it easy for users to quickly jump from one web page to the next. Navigating from page to page like this is known as "surfing" the Web.

Web addresses

Every web page has its own address. Web addresses normally take the following format:

Using a web browser

To be able to view web pages and surf the Web, you need a program called a web browser.

These days, most computers come with web browsers preinstalled. One of the most popular web browsers is Microsoft Internet Explorer.

To launch Internet Explorer:

  1. Start the computer.
  2. Start JAWS if it is not already running.
  3. Press the Windows logo key.
  4. Select Programs.
  5. Select Internet Explorer.
  6. Press Enter.

Internet Explorer will launch and display the web page designated as your home page.

Once you enter a web page, JAWS starts reading from top to bottom.

It will provide a lot of information when the page first loads, such as the number of links on the page and the address of the page. You can interrupt the speech by pressing Ctrl.

You can read the page by using the arrow keys, as you do in a Word document.

JAWS will tell if you hit a hyperlink by using the word "link", followed by the title of the link.

Navigating the Web

Sometimes, as you surf from page to page, you can lose track of where you are on the Web. If you find yourself in this position, simply retrace your steps to you find a familiar page again.

To step back to web pages you've already visited, press Alt + left arrow or use the Backspace key.

Try this

  1. See if you can find these elements in the Internet Explorer interface:
  • the title bar - press Insert + T
  • the address field - press F6
  1. Enter the address of a web page in the address field. Try this one first:
  1. Press Enter.
  2. Read the page using the arrow keys. When you hit a link press Enter. This takes you to the corresponding page.
  3. Try to go backwards by using Alt + left arrow.

Searching the Web

The Web is a great source of information on all sorts of topics, but how do you go about finding the information you want? Some web sites are designed specifically for this purpose. They are known as "search engines".

Search engines are covered in greater detail in Part 2 of this course, but for now, try visiting one of the most popular search sites, Google.

To perform a search using Google:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Press F6 or Alt + D to go to the address field.
  3. Type the following:
  1. Press Enter.
  2. Say you're interested in information on Mozart. Ask you teacher to perform the search for you.

How many results did you get?


  1. Start your browser and JAWS.
  2. Press F6 or Alt + D to go to the address field.
  3. Try out some different web sites. If you don't know the addresses of any sites, ask your teacher.
  4. Activate links on the web pages.
  5. Navigate backwards and forwards between pages.


How do I start Internet Explorer?

Answer: Press the Windows logo key, select Programs, select Internet Explorer and press Enter.

How do I open a web page?

Answer: Press F6 or Ctrl + O. Enter the address of the web page and press Enter.

How do I interrupt the screen-reader?

Answer: Press Ctrl.

How do I read a web page?

Answer: Scroll through the page using the arrow keys.

How do I activate a link?

Answer: Press Enter.

How do I go to the previous page?

Answer: Press Alt + left arrow.

How do I go to next page?

Answer: Press Alt + right arrow.

How do I close Internet Explorer?

Answer: Press Alt + F4.

Keystrokes and keyboard shortcuts

The following is a list of the most important keystrokes and keyboard shortcuts in the main programs that you'll be using.

A complete list of keyboard shortcuts is available in the Help for the various programs.


Display the Start Menu: Windows logo key or Ctrl + Esc

Close the Start menu: Esc

Close a program: Alt + F4

Focus on the menu bar in a program: Alt

Exit the menu bar: Esc


Create a new paragraph in a document: Enter

Insert space between letters and words: Spacebar

Move cursor in document: Arrow keys

Delete text: Backspace

Print document: Ctrl + P

Internet Explorer

Go to the address field: F6 or Alt + D

Go to the previous page: Alt + left arrow

Go to the next page: Alt + right arrow


Start JAWS: Ctrl + Alt + J

Stop JAWS: Insert + F4

Interrupt JAWS: Ctrl

Launch JAWS Keyboard Help: Insert + 1

Read the title bar of a program: Insert + T

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