1998 Conference Proceedings

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John C. De Witt
De Witt & Associates, Inc., Midland Park, New Jersey

Markku T. Hakkinen
The Productivity Works, Inc., Trenton, New Jersey


Even with the most flexible and carefully designed Windows screen reader, visually impaired users of the World Wide Web have been challenged, requiring mastery of both screen readers and graphical web browsers. pwWebSpeak provides an alternative, easy to master on-ramp to the internet's World Wide Web, designed from the ground up to be accessible to users with a visual disability or others who prefer uncomplicated, yet efficient access.

This session will introduce the concept of non-visual browsing and present the simplified command structure of the browser. After a brief introduction to the keyboard commands, the audience will be able to actually get on line and surf the web. Users will learn how to fill in web-based data entry forms and perform searches using the popular services like InfoSeek and Altavista.

This session is suitable for the computer novice, though a basic familiarity with the computer keyboard is desirable.


pwWebSpeak provides fully keyboard based navigation of web pages. Any page's structure and content will be spoken using pwWebSpeak's built-in software synthesizers or one of the user's choosing. pwWebspeak also supports simultaneous large print on-screen display with full control of size, foreground and background colors.

On the following pages are a summary of commands that are available for the user to control the browsing process within pwWebspeak.


Space Bar: Used when pwWebspeak first starts to bring up the pwWebspeak home page. The Space Bar or Enter key is used throughout pwWebSpeak to make a choice, go to a link, start a web search, etc. In some cases, the Enter key must be used and in others, the Space Bar. Listen for pwWebSpeak's prompt.


F1: Provides "Help" information on the commands at any point while using pwWebSpeak.

F10: The "Page Summary" key identifies the number of Links, Headers, Images, Image Maps, and Forms that are on the current web page regardless of how many visual screens it takes to display the entire page.

Alt F10: Speaks the "URL" of the current page. Pressing F11 twice will spell the URL.

F11: The "Word List" key allows you to review each word of the current element using the cursor keys. You may move forward or backward through each word. Pressing F11 again when on a word will have it spelled. Press the Enter key to leave the Word List.

F12: Toggles "Keystroke Echo" on and off when you are entering text into fields, for example the Open Page Field, or the Search Field. Use the left or right arrow keys to review your entry character by character. Use F11 to have the entry spoken.

F9: The "Where Am I" key identifies the current item in a list. Press F9 a second time to read the URL the list item references. Press F9 a third time to have the URL spelled.


F2: Prompts you to "Open A Web Page" by typing WWW followed by a dot (the period symbol) and the rest of the web site's name. Then press the Space Bar or Enter key. You do not need to type HTPP:// since this is assumed.

Shift F2: Opens a list of your favorite web sites previously saved with the Alt A command. Use the cursor keys to explore the list. Press the Space Bar to go to the site. When in the "Favorites List", pressing Del will delete the current entry.

F2, F2: Allows you to use the cursor keys to choose from text or HTML pages previously saved or to choose a digital audio CD page to hear. Use the Enter key to start your choice.

F2: Followed by use of the cursor keys. Allows you to track the history of which pages you have visited during the current session.

Alt A: Adds the current web page to your favorites list. You may title it with any name that makes sense to you.

Ctrl S: Save the current web page to disk in either HTML or text format (Alt H for HTML or Alt T for text).

Ctrl F9: Saves the current page element and adds it to the Scrapbook File - scrap.txt. Each time Ctrl F9 is used, the text is appended to the file.

Ctrl R: Reloads the current page; useful for web sites where the information changes rapidly such as CNN.COM.

Alt B: Goes back and retrieves the web page you were browsing prior to the current page.


F3: Read the current web page from its current position to its conclusion.

F4: Temporarily pauses reading. Pressing F4 again resumes reading exactly where it paused. Occasionally, it may be necessary to press F4 more than once to pause speech due to timing factors. Not all synthesizers support this function.

q: Stop reading or stop a web page transfer that is in progress.

F5: Provides a list of links on the web page which may be heard with use of the cursor keys. Any associated text on the same line also will be spoken. To go to the link just spoken, press the Space Bar. Depending upon how the author of the web page has designed it, links are frequently on the line above its associated text and a different technique must be used to hear that text. See F6 and use of the letter "A".

F6: Page Elements List. This allows you to read through the page one logical element at a time using the cursor Up and Down keys. Cursor Down takes you forward, and Cursor Up takes you back. Images, with associated captions, if any, section breaks, lists, etc., are spoken while using F6 and cursor keys. For links that are on one line and its associated text another, use of cursor keys is necessary.

Up or Down Arrow Keys: These move you up and down through the lists available to you and through the options available in a Combination Box field or set of Radio button options on a form.

a: Moves you to the next link on the page (known as an HTML "anchor").

f: Moves directly to the next entry Form on the page. If no form is on the page, it may move you to an element which begins with the letter "f".

h: Moves you to the next heading (Section) on the page.

p: Moves you to the next paragraph on the page. This is frequently useful to quickly skim an article or review headline summaries in a newspaper.

Tab: This toggles between the Page Elements list, the Links list, and Data Entry Fields if a Form is present on the page. The new list or field title being clearly announced. When you Tab to a Form Field, subsequent Tabs step you through subsequent fields until the end of the Form when you are returned to the Page Elements List.

Space Bar: This is used to follow a link or open a page from the History or Favorites List. It is also used to execute a filled out Data Form.


F7: Search the Web. This takes you to a special search dialog which provides a front-end to the Alta Vista Internet search engine. You will be prompted to enter a search string. Pressing the Space Bar or Enter key will then cause the search to be executed. Reviewing the search results is the same as reviewing any web page.

F8: Search for text on the current web page. You will be prompted to enter a search string, and pressing Enter will carry out the search. You will be positioned in the Page Elements list at the page element that contains the matching term, if one is found. If no match is found, enter a different string or press Escape to cancel the search.


Escape: Cancels a download, search or aborts other unwanted or unintended actions.

Alt F4 or Alt X: Exits pwWebSpeak and returns you to Windows.


Alt F: Increases the speaking rate each time Alt F is pressed.

Alt L: Slows speaking each time Alt L is pressed.

Shift F11: Increases print size each time Shift F11 is pressed.

Ctrl F11: Decreases print size each time Ctrl F11 is pressed.

Shift F12: Cycles through a palette of foreground colors each time Shift F12 is pressed.

Ctrl F12: Cycles through a palette of background colors each time Ctrl F12 is pressed.

Plus on the Numeric Pad: Increases synthesizer volume, if supported by synthesizer.

Minus on the Numeric Pad: Decreases synthesizer volume, if supported by synthesizer.

Shift and the Numeric Pad Plus key: Increases Real Audio volume while playing a clip downloaded by pwWebSpeak.

Shift and the Numeric Pad Minus key: Decreases Real Audio volume while playing a clip downloaded by pwWebSpeak.

Shift F4: A toggle to pause/resume Real Audio.

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