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Community Champion

JAWS, Canvas, IE8


A student  has an old version of the JAWS screen reader (5.0) that she can't afford to update, and which she uses in conjunction with IE 8.  Canvas won't work with IE8, and the student is afraid that if she updates IE or switches to another modern browser it will break JAWS, which now works with sites she needs to access other than Canvas.  I'm looking for suggestions for getting her access to Canvas without affecting JAWS 5.0 performance.  (cross posted to UEN)



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5 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @hesspe ...

I am sorry to see that your question has been sitting here unanswered for a long time.  I wanted to check in with you, however.  It appears as though you may have stumped members of the Canvas Community with your question.  Since you first posted this question, has this issue been resolved with the student?  Have you heard if this is still an issue with newer browsers that are currently available?  If you could please come back to this posting to provide us with an update, that would be great.  Looking forward to hearing back from you, Peter.

Community Team
Community Team

 @hesspe ‌, I've also shared the question with the Accessibility‌ group to broaden its exposure to those who are most likely to have experience helping students with screen readers.

Thank you for sharing the question to the Accessibility group stefaniesanders‌. Hopefully this issue has been resolved already for you. As a reference, the Accessibility within Canvas page has some information on what screen readers are supported by Canvas. Generally, older versions of JAWS will be problematic for Canvas as well many modern websites. Unfortunately JAWS is also very expensive to update.  

A couple of options in case the student or anyone else is in that situation: 

  1. The student may want to consider using the free, open-source NVDA screen reader that is supported by Canvas. 
  2. There are a variety of state and government resources available to help student purchase otherwise unaffordable assistive technology. Your campus Disability Resource Center is probably aware of these resources. Alternatively you could do a search for Your State Name + "Vocational Rehabilitation" or "Division or Department for the Blind". 

Good luck! 

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello  @hesspe ...

I am checking in with you once again to see if you've been able to get this question resolved on your own?  Since there hasn't been any recent activity in this thread and since we've not heard back from you on this topic, I am going to mark this question as "Assumed Answered".  However, if you feel that one of the above replies has helped to answer your question, please go ahead and mark it as "Correct".  But please feel free to post an update for us below.  Thanks Peter!

Community Participant

I would second the comment that NVDA works great with Canvas. There is a learning curve but if your student can use Firefox or Chrome, then downloading the free NVDA will solve any access issues with Canvas.

I have taken many exams using NVDA and Canvas with firefox. Normally I use JAWS at home with Chrome, but when I was proctored I had to use NVDA because the college didn't have JAWS. I requested double time because NVDA runs a bit slower, is a bit less responsive, being a free open-source program. But it works just fine. 

If you do use NVDA, please take the time to investigate the many free, high-quality voices available but which are not installed by default. Like many open-source projects written by geeks, the default voice is one that we blind software engineers love because it is very accurate -- you can spot a syntax error a mile away. But it doesn't sound human and is hard for the novice to understand. At our college, I keep telling the IT people to get off their lazy rear ends and not use the default voice -- it's really only for geeks!

I took courses in Spanish and in SQL and the default voice was wonderful for that. But I've been listening to synthesized speech since 1980. It's totally unfair to expect a beginner to be able to understand it.