Skip to main content

How to Download and Use JAWS Screen Reader

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is an assistive technology software designed to provide individuals with visual impairments or blindness access to information on a computer. JAWS is a screen reader, which means it reads aloud the content displayed on the screen. This includes text, buttons, links, and other interface elements.

How to Download JAWS

The UIT Software Download site is provided for authorized University of Houston faculty, staff and students only.

  • Go to UIT Software Downloads
  • Log in with your CougarNet ID.
  • Under "Category: Assistive Technology", click the download button for Accessibility Software.
  • Enter your email address and click search.
  • Click Continue to sign in.
  • Click Register as a new user and fill out the requested fields. Remember to use your email address.
  • After registering sign in with your email and password.
  • You should be taken to the Product details page. If not click Manage > My Products from the menu.
  • Click Activate this Computer.
  • Click OK to download the file.
  • Once downloaded run the file and follow the prompts to install JAWS.

How to Navigate with JAWS

JAWS users without sight will use a keyboard to navigate. Here are some common commands to be familiar with. The commands below are for a full-sized Windows desktop keyboard, but most will work on other types of keyboards. More shortcuts and JAWS training are available at Freedom Scientific JAWS Training


  • Down arrow: read next line of text (some laptops use Caps Lock + O)
  • Up arrow: read previous line of text (some laptops use Caps Lock + U)
  • Left/right arrow: read by character(some laptops use Caps Lock + M / Caps Lock + Period)
  • Insert + down arrow: read from current position to the end of the document (some laptops use Caps Lock + A)
  • Ctrl: pause JAWS from speaking the current line
  • Ctrl + Home: move to the top the document

Web browsing

  • H: go to the next heading
  • Shift + H: go to the previous heading
  • Tab: select the next hyperlink
  • Shift + Tab: select the previous hyperlink
  • Alt + left arrow: back through browsing history
  • Alt + right arrow: forward through browsing history

General Navigation

  • Alt: access the top menu in most programs
  • Arrow keys: move between menu items
  • Space bar or Enter: select a menu item
  • Tab: go to next menu area
  • Shift + Tab: go to previous menu area
  • Esc: exit menu
  • Alt + Tab: move between open windows

Checking Documents in JAWS

Regardless of the format—whether it's a Word file, PowerPoint presentation, PDF, or webpage—it's crucial to adhere to accessibility standards. Consider using JAWS to listen to your documents and ensure they meet the following criteria:

  • The document has headings that are descriptive and well-organized.
  • Links have names that adequately describe the destination. Do not use “click here.”
  • Images have alternative text.

JAWS Settings

  • To change the JAWS speech rate and typing echo go to Help and select Startup Wizard.
  • To change the JAWS voice type go to Options > Voices > Voice Adjustment. Then select a Profile Name from the drop-down to change the voice.