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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 September 2001 Issue  Volume 2  Number 5

Questions and Answers

Question: I can read web pages with my screen reader and Internet Explorer, but when I come to a place to type in information, such as a box to start a search, it won't take my typing. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Typing or checking things on a web page is called "filling out a form." Several screen readers have different modes for completing forms and for simply reading pages. You know you're in a form if your screen reader is telling you that there is an edit box, a check box, or other interactive item on a web page, other than a link. These are things that you would normally find in dialog boxes and would know how to handle there. But on a web page, your screen reader may be busy reading the page as a document and may not automatically know that you want to fill out the form.

So, what do you do? Let's take, for example, a situation in which you would like to check a check box. You are reading the screen, perhaps by pressing the down arrow and reading a line at a time, and find something that says: "View full information. Check box not checked" or something similar. You know that you want to view full information, and you know that if this were a dialog box, you would hit the space bar to check the check box, but now you hit the space bar and nothing happens.

To complete forms with JAWS for Windows, follow these instructions: To check the dialog box, you must enter the JAWS Forms mode. Press Enter on the check box. JAWS will say: "Forms mode on. View full information. Check box checked." Notice that JAWS turned the Forms mode on and obligingly checked the check box for you. Now that you are in the Forms mode, you can tab to the next item, if there is one, and treat it as you would an item in a dialog box. So if you encounter an edit box, just go ahead and type.

Once you have finished filling out the form and the web site loads another page for you, JAWS will turn the Forms mode off. So, the next time you find a form, you will need to turn it back on.

To complete forms with Window-Eyes, follow these instructions: To check this dialog box, you must leave the mode that Window-Eyes uses to let you read a web page, known as Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) mode. To get out of it and into a normal mode that lets you work with the form, press Enter on the check box. Window-Eyes will say: "MSAA mode off. View full information. Check box checked."

Notice that Window-Eyes turned MSAA mode off and obligingly checked the box for you. Now that you are out of MSAA mode, you can tab to the next item, if there is one, and treat it as you would an item in a dialog box. If you encounter an edit box, just go ahead and type.

Once you have finished completing the form and the web site loads another page for you, Window-Eyes will turn MSAA mode back on. The next time you find a form, you will need to turn it back off.

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