A few of weeks ago, as I do most days while not traveling (I am writing this article on a train from Manchester, England to Edinburgh, Scotland), I was hanging out on TeamTalk with our usual crowd of blind hackers, technology freaks and other friends who join us on occasion. That day, one of my buddies said he had heard a rumor about the JAWS license agreement but didn’t know if it was true or not.
The rumor was that, since releasing the new 90 day evaluation version of JAWS that Freedom Scientific had also changed its end user license agreement (EULA) to prohibit using the no cost 40 minute demo version for any reason other than evaluating it to decide if you would later choose to purchase the product. In brief, this means that a sighted programmer is prohibited from downloading the 40 minute version to use as an accessibility testing tool.
As with many rumors in this community and elsewhere, it’s actually partially true and partially false. The part that was incorrect is that FS added this language to its EULA after releasing the 90 day version of the program. The part that is true and, according to an article on the WebAIM site, has been true for a long time is that it is indeed a violation of its EULA to use the 40 minute demo version of JAWS as a testing tool.
To learn if the rumor was true, I got a copy of the JAWS 16 EULA and read the entire thing. It’s not very long, is written largely in plain English but contains a number of things that I found interesting. I will be quoting directly from the EULA which is also covered by the FS copyright but I will assume that the US laws on fair use of materials in journalism is acceptable under our nation’s copyright laws and will assume FS will not sue me for informing my readers because I excerpted a handful of sentences from their EULA. If they decide to sue me, I’ll ask you, my loyal readers, to help with the legal fees but I doubt it will come to that.
My Favorite Part Of The EULA
The first sentence in the JAWS EULA reads, “BY AGREEING TO THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, USING, INSTALLING OR DOWNLOADING THE SOFTWARE, YOU SIGNIFY YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF AND INTENT TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS EULA.”
I absolutely love this sentence as it appears in the JAWS EULA which you cannot read until you’ve downloaded JAWS. Thus, by simply downloading the software without having previously read or agreed to the terms of the EULA, you are bound to it. I searched the FS web site and did a few Google searches on terms like “JAWS End User License Agreement,” “Freedom Scientific EULA” and the sorts of things one might use to find the EULA online. If FS has it on its web site, it’s well hidden. Thus, FS asserts that you are bound by the entire remainder of the text before they gave you the opportunity to actually know to which you’ve agreed.
My Second Favorite Sentence In The EULA
In section 11.7, titled “Sever ability,” the JAWS EULA says,
“In the event that any one or more of the provisions of this Agreement are held to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable”, the enforceability of the remaining provisions shall be unimpaired and enforced to the full extent permitted by law.”
What does this sentence actually say? In brief, FS is asserting that some, maybe even all of the EULA that appears before this sentence may not even be legal, enforceable or anything more than bullshit intended to frighten its users away from doing anything that they felt like tossing into a contract into which you may have entered accidentally by just downloading JAWS to check it out. This is not an uncommon tactic in software license agreements, it’s the way most of them get around restricting their statements to things that are actually legal.
The 40 Minute Demo Clause
“The JAWS EULA says, ”The JAWS 40 Minute Mode is not intended for commercial use or extended product testing, other than use while waiting for an authorized license or key to arrive or be installed.”
Thus, this half of the rumor that provoked this article is indeed true. If you are a web or other developer who wants to ensure that your software is accessible for JAWS users, you need to buy JAWS. This, of course, if not ignored by the coders hoping to test their code for accessibility means that they need to spend some money just to make sure JAWS users can enjoy their work. In brief, Freedom Scientific is, with this clause in its EULA, making it less likely that a software developer will even bother to try to make their work better for JAWS users. Fs quite obviously cares more about squeezing extra profits out of the kind of developers, the sorts who actually want to test their software for accessibility, whom I believe we should be encouraging.
There is an easy workaround for this problem: use NVDA to do your testing. NVDA is more compliant with standards and the various accessibility API used on Windows so, the results of your testing will more accurately reflect how your code is compliant with the standards. This may mean that JAWS users will have a less pleasant experience as the testing will not account for any of the more advanced techniques used in JAWS to work around poor accessibility but you can use NVDA for free, forever. If you are working on a web based project, you might also test on a Macintosh or iOS product where where VoiceOver, the Apple screen reader, is shipped at no extra cost to anyone who purchases an Apple device. Even Android, a system that any regular reader of this blog would know I dislike at this point, can be used to test your web based projects using the FireFox browser (Chrome is too buggy in how it delivers accessibility information to TalkBack, hence, is a poor testing tool).
The Standard Home Edition Restrictions
Quoting from the JAWS EULA again, “The Standard Home Edition License is limited to use by a single End User only and is limited to Your personal and non-commercial use.”
This simple sentence says a real lot. First, it says, “a single user” and not, “a single user at a time.” This means if one of your blind friends comes to your house and asks you if she can use your computer to check their email or perform some other minimal task, you are in violation of the JAWS EULA. So, if you want to follow the letter of the agreement, an agreement you didn’t get the chance to read before you downloaded the software and were already bound to follow, you can’t let your friends or family members or dog or space alien or any other entity who might want to share your computer for a little while. It also means that a blind couple living together must purchase two JAWS licenses as married people are never described as “single” in the US dialect of English.
This also seems to mean that you need to buy two copies of JAWS to use the JAWS Tandem feature. Read the sentence, you can only use it on one computer at a time so you can’t even use it to control another computer that you own. You can install JAWS on as many computers as you like, you just can’t use JAWS to allow them to communicate with each other.
Lastly, this means you need to plunk down a few hundred more dollars if you hope to use JAWS in any professional capacity. This could mean sending an email to a friend saying, “yes, I can babysit for your kid today,” as that would be professional communication, hence, prohibited by the JAWS EULA for the standard edition.
NVDA and Window-Eyes Licenses
NVDA is covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. This means you can use it in any way you choose, at no cost, forever. You even have the right to get the NVDA source code and, if you have Python programming skills and the desire to do so, you can even make changes to NVDA itself. GPL was written by Eben Moglen at Columbia University under direction of the Free Software Foundation. It is designed to protect your freedoms and I find it a bit ironic that FS has the word “Freedom” in its name as anyone reading its EULA can tell you, that freedom, with a lower case f, isn’t part of their agenda.
In preparation for this piece, I took a look at the Window-Eyes license. While WE is not “free as in freedom,” it can be had for no cost if you also own Microsoft Office, which can be had for roughly $10 per month, profoundly less than the cost of buying JAWS. While I didn’t spend a lot of time with the WE agreement (this article is about JAWS after all), I did check and there’s no restriction against using the no cost version. I personally get confused when using WE as I use NVDA and the differences between the two and my poor level of familiarity with WE makes it a real pain for me to even test. If you need a no cost Windows screen reader and for some reason don’t like NVDA, give Window-Eyes a try before you even download JAWS as downloading JAWS committed you to a bunch of stuff that, as you can read above, you may not actually agree with. I didn’t mention WE in the section discussing using a screen reader as a testing tool mostly because of its relatively poor level of standards compliance on the web. I’m told this is getting better and will revise this opinion when and if WE catches up with JAWS, NVDA and the iOS version of VoiceOver.
If you want a screen reader and do not absolutely need the ever shrinking handful of features that only JAWS provides, you should switch over to NVDA. It’s a terrific screen reader, you cannot beat the price and it is incredibly standards compliant.
You might also take a little time to read the EULA on software you use. All of us with a smartphone, including me, just hit “Agree” and move on. The Apple EULA is incredibly long and I doubt any of us know to what we agreed when we accepted the license in order to actually use the product we purchased.
Freedom Scientific is a notoriously litigious company. On nine separate occasions, I’ve received letters from their attorneys regarding legal action they would either actually take or just threaten about articles I’ve written on my blog. Defending oneself against even a frivolous lawsuit is a costly endeavor and, as FS admits in its EULA, some of it may not even be legal but it will cost you a lot to find an attorney to help sort out what parts of the EULA are even enforceable. They can put anything in their EULA and it’s up to you to pay the legal fees to sort it all out.
brandon armstrong says
i am absolutely outraged by this stupid and dumb company. I seriously wish that slave science fiction would just shut down, and do us all a favor and go away. I’m sick and tired of them being the go to for accessibility when clearly this joke of a screen reader isn’t what most of us want or use. I believe the biggest problem with slave is the fact that they have gotten away from what counted, software development, and got in to the market with magnification devices, yes their is a need for them, but seriously that’s why their are companies that specialize in that field. fs is just getting dumber and dumber by the year, and I for one would celebrate if they were to fold.
Paul Warner says
Although I am now a software developer, I was a commercial lawyer for over 20 years so this gives me an insight into the legal workings of user licence agreements such as the one for Jaws 16. Perhaps I can help clarify some issues raised.
The first point about the simple act of downloading as constituting acceptance of the terms of the licence is correct. The use of the disjunctive ‘or’ in the sentence makes that clear. Since it is impossible to agree to terms of a licence which have not already been viewed, no court anywhere would enforce that provision in relation to mere downloading – if ‘downloading’ means what you think it means.
There could, however, be remote or network situations where it is possible to ‘download’ on to a local machine a version which has prepaid licences, the extraction and downloading of one copy itself being treated as a licensable act. In such a case, though, the licence would already have been viewed and accepted when the main version was installed on the server. I don’t know if this kind of arrangement is technically possible but even if it isn’t now, it could be in an update. Even then, the acceptance of the licence for the server installations should cover such ‘downloads’ so the insertion of the reference to downloads in the sentence may have no legal or practical effect.
Even if FS or any other vendor for that matter really intends to hold you bound by the licence terms when you download the setup file, that view would be crushed in the courts as mentioned above. Anyway, that cannot be the intention of FS since they give you the opportunity of rejecting the licence after you have read it during the setup process. The law tends to take account of the context of legal provisions so that their meaning is ascertained taking account of other relevant matters. For example, it is clear from the setup process that FS intend to give you the opportunity of rejecting the licence and not using the software. Therefore, there’s no problem.
Secondly, the severability clause quoted is not some kind of recognition by FS that they believe that their own provisions are suspect. The severability clause is boiler-plate in contracts all over the world. In fact, they are so standard that a lawyer might be held to be negligent for not including one.
The purpose of the severability clause is to deal with the kind of situation which just might arise in relation to the downloading issue mentioned earlier. Let’s say a court took the view that it would be impossible to attribute acceptance of the licence to someone who had simply downloaded the setup file. In the old days, the courts might have been persuaded to strike out the whole sentence as unenforceable. The severability clause makes it clear that if the court were to take that view in relation to downloading, then only the downloading part would be struck out as unenforceable but the other sensible provisions would remain effective. This provision is therefore entirely reasonable and unobjectionable.
It is also worth bearing in mind that courts will be reluctant to enforce an unqualified provision literally as is suggested with the baby-sitting example. Where the licensor would have to argue that the user’s behaviour constituted an unlawful act, the court is looking for reasonable arguments, not unreasonable ones. The text of legal documents has to be read and understood in the context of applicable statutes and case-law as well as court practice and professional norms. What might appear to the lay reader to be relevant and objectionable might be considered by a lawyer as irrelevant or unobjectionable.
The law is a frighteningly complex discipline and advice from a legal professional experienced in the relevant field should be sought if one is concerned enough to avoid litigation. Despite that complexity, the legal maxim ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ still applies and this imposes an unfair burden on any lay person being presented with a licence agreement or any other kind of legal document without professional advice to hand. That’s why we all just hit the accept button and trust that the vendor is not a litigious bully. I think you are quite safe with FS in the circumstances.
Paul, thanks for posting your comment. While I certainly share many of Chris’ obvious frustrations with FS and their treatment of, well, of us, your perspective brings much needed balance to the conversation. These are clearly very complex issues that *could* effect us, but which don’t seem at all to be unique to FS.
I have read your thoughts online over the years. I don’t comment much.
Do you now live in the UK?
The Jaws contract sounds interesting. You raised interesting points and generated interesting discussion.
I do think the NVDA voice has a long way to go as the speech is very strange sounding to my ears. I hope they fix that and that built-in main stream accessibility improves and carries over from the iDevices into Windows 10. Best
Chris Hofstader says
Thank you so much for this terrifically informative comment. You have a legal education and background, my undergrauate work was in computer science and, later, I would enroll as an English major at Harvard University. I was hoping to become a writer (a real writer, not just a crackpot blogger) but life has odd twists and I dropped out of that program to take over the management of JAWS when I joined Henter-Joyce in 1998.
I realize the examples I used are an expression of hyperbole but that’s how a person who studies the English language might read a JAWS EULA. I contend that the vast majority of JAWS users have no legal background and read English language text in the common manner, outside of the context of the legal definitions you, as a former lawyer, might prefer. If the consumers are required to agree to the terms of the license, it is incumbent on Freedom Scientific to make it understandable. If I, a complete word nerd, cannot actually understand what the license says, I doubt more than 1% of all screen readers could as well.
You say, “no court….” as one of your points. I contend that this is a logical fallacy, you cannot predict the future with absolute certainty. If you wrote, “it would be immensely unlikely that any court would agree….” I would be entirely in agreement with your assertion. But, neither of us are clairvoyant, hence, neither of us can speak to the future with an absolute.
Sincerely, though, I really love your comment and would appreciate more like it. I write largely to provoke discussion and to amuse myself. Your comment is exactly the sort of discourse I would enjoy seeing much more of in this community.
brandon armstrong says
ok you seriously lost me. I’m not a lawyer, but my point here is this company like most at for the blind do not operate by regular business ethics and standards. I believe that every at company needs to register with the BBB and they all need to be held accountable for ripping off the blind customer, and not enervating in ten years. I’m sorry, but if someone tells me today that jaws is such a great screen reader, ask your self this, why doesn’t jaws read things in word reliably such as clip art? why doesn’t jaws enervate with useful features, not toys that don’t work. in short, do you or anyone else on this blog think we as a customer get what we pay for from this company? I do not, and frankly i’ll stick by what i said. it needs to go.
Amanda Rush says
Re: AT companies registering with the BBB: It’s actually not a requirement that they, or any company, register with the BBB. The BBB does not have the standing that it once did, considering you can basically pay for favorable reviews/reputation management as a service. Second, ethical business practices. Not to defend our favorite company, but “ethical” is highly subjective. Third, FS getting into the low vision market. It’s called market segmentation, and the blind community by itself, excluding everything else, is actualy incredibly small and marketing to that community alone is typically not sustainable. So AT companies either market to multiple communities, (blind, Low-vision and learning-disabled in FS’s case,” or they fold, like GWMicro. Any business’s job, regardless of mission statement, is to make a profit. That means expenses have to be covered, (and there are a lot of them for a company like FS: employee/contractor salaries, departments that just plain eat resources like tech support, building/utilities, along with everything else). Profit is any revenue left *after expenses. So yeah, dealing with incredibly nitche markets means that the entire AT industry, not just FS, is pretty cutthroat, because they have to be or they die off. Lastly, in FS’s case, the individual consumer is not their target market. Agencies/enterprises are.
Drew M says
Oh whatever. We get exactly what we pay for from this company: $0. Let’s not pretend: we don’t buy JAWS, we get the state to buy JAWS. With the state as the main client is it any wonder that JAWS has become an overbloated mess packed with “features” no one wants while actual accessibility bugs languish? It’s exactly what you’d expect from a bureaucracy.
brandon armstrong says
to Amanda your totally missing the point. I’m going to clearly state this again. we don’t get what we pay for with this company. want to read clip art? forget it. want to have doctor jaws like we did ten years ago to check your system to see if your version of jaws will run, don’t even think about it. it won’t happen. I understand that things have to be taken in to consideration, but honestly, should we be allowed to say oh it’s ok. we’re blind, so go ahead and rip us off, because we just can’t hold you accountable to the BBB? if apple tried stunts like the AT industry how long do you think they would last? I can promise you they wouldn’t last very long, so my point in all this is whether it be companies like human ware, gw micro, or FS they all, not one, not two, but all of them, need to operate on the same business practices as a main stream company like apple. I’m also sick and tired of this blind people are a small market, that may be the case, but we have a voice, we have spending power just as our sited counterparts.
Tim Sharp says
I got my first copy of JFW in 1998. Back then, the management was much better I think. For one, you had a CEO that was blind, and actually used the software. I would like very much for somebody high up at FS to explain in their own words why it is that we do not have rock solid Office support anymore. Why is it, that clip art doesn’t read anymore, and has not read for over a decade? Why is it, that Microsoft Project support has been neglected? Why is FS refusing to fully support these applications knowing full well that folks need them in professional settings? I wish one of the executives would be forced to answer to all the people who have lost jobs, all the people who are in education, ETC. I am currently in college right now, hoping to graduate this coming December. Let me just take you down an abbreviated version of my college career. One of the classes required for my degree is a Database fundamentals class. Any guesses as to what software was required for that class? Yep, you guessed it, Microsoft Access. How well did JFW 12 work with it at the time I was taking that class? Enough for me and my tutor to give up after 10 minutes of it not reading anything. By anything, I literally mean no fields, no data, no nothing. Period. This to me, is extremely concerning. I used Microsoft Access on Office 97 and JFW 3.5 in school for a simple exercise my vision teacher gave me. Everything worked. Everything read. Fields read. Data was accessible and easy to read. I never had to ask for help getting to a control. I was focused more on getting the work done, not trying to fight a screen reader that flat out refused to work. Lee Hamilton? John Blake? I wish you would have to face the masses. Just explain to my former vision teacher why Microsoft Access and the rest of Office is not up to par anymore. Explain to my Math professors and my Math tutor why the 3d Math graphing project was canceled. O yes, and the person Chris wrote about 2 years ago? I’m talking about the person who Chris wrote in his own words was considering suicide because he couldn’t hold down his job. Why does this person’s screen access program not function sufficiently for him to work anymore? You top executives should have to answer all these questions, and look someone directly in the face while you answer them. These are questions that need answers. It seriously bothers me that we have gotten to this point. I use to have a lot of respect for FS, waiting with baited breath every time a new version of JFW came out. Now the first thing that goes through my mind when I think about them is blah. Part of the problem is that JFW’s development budget has been cut overtime. For FS to cut their flagship product’s development budget is mysterious. I am well aware that they have entered into the visually impaired market. I contend that this move, while good for some has put long-time JFW users as well as new ones in an awkward position. With JFW not getting the development attention it use to, people are losing jobs. People like me are not able to complete education independently. With that database class, I literally had to sit there and let my tutor do all the work in Access. He explained what he was doing along the way, but that still defeats the purpose. I want to be able to do my work on my own like every one else. I want to believe they will get better overtime, but right now I am not seeing a good future. I want in my heart for JFW to be the rock star it once was. However, NVDA is putting it to shame in many areas, and Window Eyes is coming along quite nicely from what I can gather with my testing. Both of these solutions are free, the latter being free provided you have Office 2010 or later installed and properly registered. I predict that if there is not a major turn around and FS wakes up internally, trials and tribulations are quite near.
Darrell Bowles says
Hello to all of you,
I have a very unique perspective, as I am the assistive technology trainer at a local community college.
Now, do not let the title fool you, it is a contract job, that allows me to test a variety of online books, software, and devices for Universal access and design. What does that have to do with JAWS you might ask?
Everyone on here has problems with freedom scientific, and the way they handle there customers. For example, Freedom scientific does not, and has never offered payment plans , regardless of the end-user’s hardship in obtaining a product that helps them succeed in the world in wich they live. Who was the first company to do this? Gwmicro, wich is now ai-squared. A case in point for me, is that I have to rely on my vocational rehabilation group in Tennessee to upgrade my version of jaws. Well, I stopped at JAWS 12. Why?
The number one reason, is because It became pointless to continue paying freedom for there SMA. 2, I since have learned how to use NVDA, System access, and I also have the window-eyes that is free with office 2010 or later. A lot of people claim that We is behind the times, but I have found that WE is catching up, and NVDA is quite good in its own right. Heck, I have also considered taking Linux for a full school term test drive.
My point is, if you do not like what freedom does, stop using JAWS. Switch to NVDA or window-eyes. In my dealings with AI-squared Indiana, the customer support team has been wonderful. Want to use the twitter website? Bam, window-eyes and NVDA do it. Want word 2013 support? Bam NVDA and window-eyes do it. I see, no reason in my life to continue using J JAWS, except whare absolutely necessary.
Stop allowing your blindness groups to pay for it, since FS does not see the customer (end user) as the backbone.
What does this mean for universal access?
If a student can’t use JAWS, then they better be able to get the same results with NVDA or We. If they are a mac user, the experience must be equivalent to that of a windows screen reader. Don’t like JAWS, make the switch today!
Stomme poes says
“Heck, I have also considered taking Linux for a full school term test drive.”
Get the most-latest stable version of Gnome on whatever Linux you’re running, and join the Orca mailing list. The really bad thing about SRs on Linux is not the software, but the documentation. So for now the mailing list (and it’s archives) will be a big help. Beyond that, lots should work well. Or, for something that installs and comes up talking, Vinux.
brandon armstrong says
well said darrell. I would like to point out here that those of us who are writing about what jaws use to do verses what it does now do not use it as of now. we use NVDA and a mac. I’m glad your also in agreement with those of us who have stopped using flaws. I’ll say the same thing to people. stop using flaws.
Drew M says
Then stop whining about how it doesn’t work right. What do you care? You aren’t using it.
Tim Sharp says
I also have been using NVDA as my full time screen reader for almost 9 years. As I write this, I am going to their donate page to sign up for a monthly donation. Sorry FS, you don’t get my money for jumping 4 upgrades from JFW 12 to 16. Not happening. If the state will do it, I won’t complain. However, you will not see my personal bank account in any way, shape, form, or fashion whatsoever. You will never see my personal bank account unless drastic change takes place. NVDA may not do certain things, but it does enough for me and most people I know. I know lots of folks don’t like to here about fund raisers and the like, but NVDA is written by 2 extremely talented programmers. I can never thank them enough for all their hard work. They give us their talents in hopes that enough folks out there will contribute and help them keep going. All the money that is spent on SMA’s for FS aught to be spent on keeping NV Access running. These folks are blind, and use this software every day to work, play, and get things done just like us. FS has lost its true focus. Fine. They lose my business, too.
brandon armstrong says
I won’t give them any business either. I think that every state really should ask them selves, do our clients get what we pay for when we purchase this technology? hell, I really want to see the company go away and NVDA access really take off in the community. I would donate to NVDA before I would give a dime or nickel to FS for anything.
Derek riemer says
I just want to make a comment here. While some people are making derogatory comments about freedom scientific, think twice. Rather than trying to hurt them, lets try and get them to realize they aren
t the company they used to be. I had the state cancel my SMA with them this year because NVDA is literately 10,000 times better now for my needs, I got treated like property when I called FS customer support to have my braille display fixed, I can develop custom addons and tweak things with nvda much easier, I can file bugs, and actually get a reply from someone who understands what issues I face, and I flat out like open source better. In this sense, nvda serves every need I have. But, we can’t just call a company names because we aren’t happy with the way they work. For example, One reason nvda is gaining popularity is because nvaccess is working with organizations around the world to make progress. One down side to nvda is the fact that you can’t call a phone number and get tech support on the job, when it matters. Nvaccess has worked this out by allowing companies to pay a reasonable fee to receive technical support for a blind/visually impaired customer. This is a huge step forward. Freedom scientific offers tech support which may be better for customers. They charge us an arm and a leg, and really hurt the developing world because they refuse to offer a subsidized version of jaws for those who can’t afford it. So rather than calling someone names, actually convince your friends who are blind to make the switch to nvda. Jaws is a high quality screen reader, and really could be great if they decide that it is worth making a turn around and innovating on behalf of the blind community. Lets stop the name calling, and convince Freedom Scientific to make useful changes. NVDA is open source, and therefore it’s innovations can be used by anyone. Freedom scientific locks jaws up behind closed doors and threatens people who want to use it to better the community with Draconian licensing jargon, and lawsuits. We really should just put the pressure on them to allow testers to use it to make their apps accessible, and if they refuse, so be it, their issue, vote with your dollar. The message will be heard whether it leads to freedom scientific deciding that it would be better to innovate, or better to leave the screen reader market. Realize that if Freedom scientific leaves the market, the competition is less in the screen reader accessibility market. Does anyone like comcast? Not really, because they have no competition, and therefore no reason to innovate and make the market better for us all. The screen reader market is fragile as it is, and trying to put a company who, by the way, made landmark leaps and bounds for us all in the early days of computing, out of business will just make that market even more fragile. I will use nvda because I love it, and I really like the mission of NVaccess, but that doesn’t mean I need to call freedom scientific slave scientific or other names, because that isn’t going to get anything done for me, or anyone else. Thanks for jaws Freedom scientific, but it could use a bit of work, like better support for Microsoft access, or maybe even support for native remote access applications. Nvda isn’t perfect, (no software is, my gosh, software is written by humans anyway) but for me it is by far the option I feel most comfortable with. Let the power of community work, as it did in the nvda remote campaign that just launched. Blind people vote with their dollar a lot, and it is up to the companies who want to create screen readers to decide how to best serve their communities, and up to the communities to show the companies where they are lacking. Yay for freedom of speech, and yay for NVDA!!!!!!!!!!
Flor Lynch says
Chris, All major software developers when composing their EULA’s, have them written in language so absolute that they know it will cover all of what it can, and that such inclusive terms and conditions can only go as far as that the ‘software policies’, in so far as such policies are enforced, will allow for. In other words, they ‘take it to the limit’, so that they are ‘covered’ against suits. Apple (I am tiold) used to put their EULA’s in plain English, but they no longer do so.
Charles Smith says
I am currently working my way through the Window Eyes tutorial and manual. If I ever decided to switch Screenreaders, I’d go with Window Eyes over the others. I’ve tried System Access, NVDA, JAWS, wich I use now, and Window Eyes. The reason that I’d choose Window Eyes is both the technical support as well as the training available for the product. To my knowledge, SA or NVDA don’t offer training outside of the help manuals, although it has been several years sense I’ve looked at those two so I could be wrong.
Greg Wocher says
First people keep mentioning MS Access and how FS now has major issues with it. This is not really Freedom Scientifics fault. All the screen readers have problems with Access because of Microsoft. It has improved in more recent incarnations of Access. I used it successfully in one of my final projects at school. I agree that Freedoms policies are frustrating but it does have features that the others do not. For example the text analyzer can be very useful for students. It also has a new useful feature for web developers in that it can now accurately tell colors. I also feel that NVDA is one of the best alternatives out there and I am one of the ones who contributed to the NVDA remote project. I use both JAWS and NVDA everyday to be able to test things on the web.
brandon armstrong says
seriously? make freedom scientific better? first off, the way to make them better is to give some of the upper management the royal boot out the door, and get back to what it was in 98. focus on software development, and give jaws the attention and dedication it once had. this is what bothers me about this company more then anything. they just can’t be bothered to innovate with jaws, because they have gotten into areas of business like low vision where honestly they have no business. they were meant for a blind person trying to get through school or work.
Sky Mundell says
Hello guys, like some of you guys, I am quite frustrated with Freedom Scientifics licenceing model and cost of JAWS. I am not the only one who feels this way. I actually contacted a agency in Canada about the free Window-Eyes for office offer, and they too have had a huge moral problem with cost and licenceing model of JAWS. I use all 4 screen readers. I use JAWS when I want to use CakeTalking with Sonar, but then I also use Window-Eyes for Microsoft office, NVDA, and System Access from Serotek. As for freedom entering the low vision market, that is indeed what is happening and I think more attention needs to be on JAWS developments and fixing applications that don’t work with JAWS anymore.
FS really needs to step up their game. contact them, offer to make suggestions to make them better? when all that happens in my cuntry is that, when i try to contact tech support. you get a
paret like mantra in an email saying, oops you not a registered US client please contact your dealer for support. o, and let us not forget the 1 thing not one of you guys mentioned yet. and that is, FS treating there jenuan customers like pyrots. jaws fails to activate? contact your dealer. jaws needs a dongle due to me being a pc tec, oops
contact your dealer.
Please help with resetting my activation keys? na, contact your dealer.
the list goes on.
jaws is over sized. its become a buggy product, wich has bug fixes of bugs that has to be fixed. wich does not need fixing. its patched up. and held together by hope and a prayer.
please forgive my rant about FS. but i used jaws. and I can tell you. i prefer NVDA any day. and yes, I use that as well. jaws was once grate. it no longer is.
Kindly excuse my spelling.
In fact NVDA is now much better than JAWS, and nothing to add there…
Cody Hurst says
This whole marginalize, small demographic of blind people is old and retired. There is a term for it, it is called Artificial scarcity. A lot of these state agencies are problems unto themselves (another topic for another day) but so long as they keep using this ever flimsy excuse as a prop to keep their pockets lined nothing will change. Have they tried selling their software in brick and morter outlets like Walmart, Fred Meyer, Best buy, Staples, Office Max, do I need to continue? Of course, it will be a small market if no one knows about it. This is also where one could go off on the tangent of the blind stigma and how 80+% of people feel sorry for blind folks and ask stupid questions like how we dress ourselves or use the bathroom or cook. It is all the same thing. Of course, we all know damn well F$ could sell boxed sets of JAWS for $50 or $75, because they do it each year at CSUN. They aren’t hurting one bit and you, I and everyone else, including F$ knows it as well. Chris wrote back in 2013 they were raking in 1.2 million in JFW licenses each month. That’s 14.4 million in one year, and that isn’t even talking about hardware which is also old, made in china garbage. It’s like the health supplement market. They mark it up as much as 7 fold and give you a few cents worth of product. Kill off the state agencies and the bloated no good con artists will die. Just really tired of this small market bull. I wasn’t able to find any thing on where F$ is publically traded and their market value, for damn good reason. I called for them to be audited and for their quarterly or anual financials to be released. Just remember folks, the logo for jaws is a shark for a reason. It is a metaphore for the company itself. Very evil. Go get NVDA and the eloquence add-on. Disable the sounds, change progress bar readouts to be spoken and install the cloud OCR plugin, and you’ve got JFW. I agree ESpeak is really horrible on the ears. I was a Linux user and was around when Orca 0.2.0 first released and was friends with Willie Walker. But unfortunately accessibility across distros is just too volatile.