This guide is intended for Syracuse University staff who would like to use JAWS as part of a WCAG 2.x assessment of a web site or web application. It is not intended to be a comprehensive introduction to the JAWS screen reader. For  in-depth instruction on using JAWS please refer to JAWS Screen Reader Documentation on the Freedom Scientific website.

The WCAG 2.x A and AA Manual Evaluation form used by Syracuse University staff for testing web sites and web applications includes a number of checkpoints that are best tested using a screen reader. The following table lists the relevant checkpoints, a recommended testing technique with the corresponding JAWS keystrokes, and video clips illustrating JAWS output for each command.

Remember, if you want JAWS to stop talking, just hit your CTRL key!


  • JAWS was developed for use with Internet Explorer, but it is also compatible with Chrome. Other browsers may not work well with JAWS.
  • Using a full-size keyboard is highly recommended. If you are using a laptop keyboard you may, depending on the keyboard layout, need to go to Options > Basics > Keyboard layout to switch your keyboard layout preferences.

StepWCAG CheckpointDescriptionJAWS KeystrokesVideo
Listen to the Page

Page title is descriptive

All content can be accessed

Check that the page title is descriptive.

Listen for content that might be missed by JAWS.

Check that the content reading order is logical and intuitive.

Listen for alternative text on images.

Check that navigation regions and main content regions are announced.

Ins + Down Arrow

CTRL (Stop talking)

Tab through the interactive elements on the page

There is a visible Skip Navigation or Skip to Content link

Tab order is logical and intuitive

Confirm that there is a Skip Navigation option and that it is functioning properly.

Confirm that navigation menus function and that menu options are announced properly.

Confirm that tab order is logical and intuitive.

Tab (Move forward)

Shift + Tab (Move back)

Spacebar (Activate a menu)

Up arrow/Down Arrow (Move through menu items)

Esc (Close popup windows)

Check for headings1.3.1
Headings are used and nested appropriately

Use the Headings List dialog box to check for the presence of headings and that heading structure is logical and begins with Level 1.

Ins + F6

Check for descriptive links2.4.4
Link text is descriptive

Use the Links List dialog box to check that all links make sense out of context.

Ins + F7

Check for alternative text1.1.1
Alternative text on images, buttons, embedded multimedia, and frames is appropriate and meaningful.

Use the Graphics List dialog box to check the alternative text on images and other graphical elements.

Ins + Ctrl + G

Verify that forms are properly labelled and that all fields are usable.

Sufficient information is provided for filling out forms, identifying required fields and correcting errors.

Use the Form Fields dialog box to check that all form fields, including search fields, are properly identified and include informative labels, the type of form element (text field, checkbox, radio button, etc.) as well as the current state of the element (checked, not checked, etc.)

Ins + F5 (Display Form Fields List)

Other form navigation tips:

Tab (To move to next field)

Shift + Tab (To move to previous field)

Enter (To activate drop-down box)

Alt + Down Arrow (Show items in combo box or list box)

Up/Down Arrows (To navigate between drop-down box options)

Spacebar (To select radio buttons)

Verify that required fields are identifed and that there is proper error handling.3.3.1
Sufficient information is provided for filling out forms, identifying required fields and correcting errors.
Fill out a form and test required fields or validated fields for proper error handling.Same as above

Verify that tables are marked up properly1.3.1
Data tables have simple structure.
Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined

Check the tables list to be sure that the table is named and that JAWS correctly interprets the number of columns and rows.

Move around the cells and make sure that for each cell the correct column header, cell content, and column number is announced.

Ins + F3 (To choose Tables list)

Alt + Ctrl + Right Arrow (To read next cell)

Ins + Shift + Home (To read row)

Ctrl +Ins + Num5 (To read current cell)

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