Presenter: Ryan Jones
Building an accessible kiosk requires the consideration and implementation of various factors such as physical design, interface design, and overall functionality. One consideration that is often overlooked is text-to-speech functionality for someone who is blind or has low vision. JAWS for Kiosks provides the powerful screen reading capabilities of JAWS in a slimmed-down version that can be customized in a variety of ways. With support for over thirty languages, JAWS for Kiosks provides unique functionality specifically tailored for kiosks such as the ability to work with a variety of external keypads such as the Storm line of devices, and the ability to start and stop when headphones are used. In addition, the powerful scripting language built-in to JAWS allows for a unique combination of true screen reading functionality along with customization of messaging. For example, scripting may be used to provide extra help text for specific controls or screens. Scripting can also be used to allow users the ability to change certain speech settings such as voice speed or the amount of help messaging that JAWS provides. At the end of each session, JAWS for Kiosks returns to a default set of configurations ready for the next user.
JAWS for Kiosks can be integrated with external devices such as the Storm line of keypads to provide an alternative to using a touch screen. However, JAWS for Kiosks can also be configured to work with compatible touch screen devices if desired. In addition, for devices with an audio jack, JAWS can start or stop based on the user inserting or removing headphones. This ensures that the text-to-speech capabilities are only activated when someone needs them.
In addition to providing a customized experience for kiosk users, JAWS for Kiosks provides a variety of options regarding installation and deployment. A special customization file is used to determine exactly which features of JAWS get installed. For example, features of JAWS that would not typically be needed in a kiosk environment such as JAWS Tandem or Convenient OCR are not installed by default in the kiosk version but can be installed if desired with the use of the customization file. Since JAWS for Kiosks does not require an Internet connection to run, it is always available and can be deployed as part of a master software image. In addition, keyboard access to parts of JAWS such as the user interface, Script Manager, Settings Center, and more are blocked by default.
In conclusion, JAWS for Kiosks is a powerful and customizable text-to-speech solution for Windows-based kiosks. Combining the default functionality of JAWS along with custom scripting allows for creation of a uniquely accessible experience for users. In addition, combining JAWS for Kiosks with an external input device such as a Storm keypad can create a positive and efficient user experience. Combining a strong text-to-speech capability along with an accessible physical and interface design will help ensure that people who are blind and low vision have a productive and positive kiosk experience. And this works for everyone!