Tips for reading Notes emails including their attachments using the JAWS® Screen Reader
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The following article offers tips and recommendations for reading Notes emails using the JAWS screen reader software. This information has been validated using Notes 8.5.1, Notes 8.5.2 and Notes 8.5.3 running with JAWS 11, 12 and 13.
Notes Basic Client Configuration Preferences for Accessibility
Please note for JAWS® users, the following two Preferences should be set. These are accessed by File > Preferences
(Alt + F + F). Arrow down to Basic Notes Client Configuration
and then Tab to Additional Options
. Both preferences, Use Tab to Navigate Read Only Documents
and Use Accessibility Keyboard Navigation
, should be checked. Once set, you will be prompted to restart Notes for these settings to take effect.
Reading Notes emails and accessing their attached documents
Reading Notes Emails
- Notes emails are divided into two sections, a header and a body. The header contains Subject, Sender and receivers, Show/Hide Details button, a date and time of when the email was received, and sometimes attachments or other text like the custom expiration date.
- When a Notes email is first opened, it is opened as a read only document. The JAWS virtual cursor will typically read the Title of the email and then move into the body of the email. This is expected while JAWS assumes the header information was obtained prior to opening the email. Note: Occasionally JAWS will read the entire header of the email when it is first opened. You will know you are in the header by the information being read including sender, receiver, time stamp and the Show Details button.
- If reading the email with the JAWS PC Cursor and there are any attachments, urls, or hotspots in the body of the email, focus will go to these controls when the email is opened. If there are no attachments, urls, or hotspots in the body, the PC Cursor still remains in the body of the document when it is first opened. Tabbing forward will move the cursor to the Sender field in the header.
- If reading with the JAWS PC Cursor and the user finds themselves in the header of the email, tabbing forward through all the fields in the header will move the JAWS PC Cursor to the body of the email. If there are attachments in the header, these will fall last in the tab order before moving into the body. If there are no attachments but the Show Details button is available, this will be the last item hit before moving into the body of the email. If there is a Hide Details button available, tabbing forward will put the cursor on the From and To fields. The To field is last in the tab order if there is no attachment.
- When tabbing into the body of the document, the JAWS PC Cursor will fall on the first attachment, hot spot, or url in the body of the document. If there is none, the cursor falls into the body of the document.
- JAWS will read the Title of the document window but may not read anything else when it first enters the body of the email and there is only text. Typing Ctrl + Home will move the cursor to the top of the body of the document. The user can then use JAWS key strokes for reading; Down Arrow to move the virtual cursor down one line at a time, Insert key + Up Arrow to read the current line or Insert + Down Arrow to Say All.
- When there are attachments in the body of the document, sometimes JAWS will read, edit. At this point, the focus appears to be on the attached file's text name. Shift + Tab moves focus back to the attachment and the file name is read.
- Typing Ctrl + Home will move focus to the top of the body of the document allowing for reading of the entire body.
Reading Attachments in Notes email
- Depending upon how email is received by the Notes user, the attachments can appear in the header or body of a Notes mail. How mail is received is determined by the user's person document which is found in the Name and Address Book (names.nsf) on the user's home Domino server. This is typically set by a Domino Administrator. The settings for incoming mail are MIME, Notes Rich Text, or Keep in the sender's format. Attachments in MIME-based email are found in the header of the email and attachments in Notes Rich Text email are found in the body of the email.
There are 3 ways to open attachments in Notes mail while running JAWS®.
- Let the JAWS virtual cursor find the attachment. JAWS reads it as Graphic Filename.extension. When JAWS reads this, hit Enter and the Open Attachment dialog launches.
- Tab to the attachment which will put the PC cursor on it. JAWS reads, Filename.extension button. Type Shift + F10 to open the context menu. Attachment Properties is the first menu item in the context menu. Hit Enter and the Attachment properties dialog opens. Tab to the Open button. Press space bar or hit Enter key and the document opens.
- Tab to the attachment which will put the PC cursor on it. JAWS reads, Filename.extension button. Type Alt + T + P to open the Attachment Properties dialog. Tab to the Open button. Press spacebar or hit Enter key and the document opens.
- When a user is reading a MIME-based email where the attachment is in the header, JAWS may not announce that there is an attachment in the email. JAWS typically reads only the Title of a Notes email and skips header information when the email is first opened.
- To see if any attachments exist in the header of the email, Shift + Tab until focus is placed on the Sender of the email. Tabbing forward will move focus forward through the controls in the header. Or the user can let the JAWS virtual cursor read the attachment by arrowing down through the header.
- When JAWS is not running and the user has focus on an attachment, the space bar will open the Open Attachment dialog. When JAWS is running, JAWS is eating the space bar and not passing it on to Notes. Freedom Scientific has been notified of this issue.
- When the PC cursor is placed on the attachment via Tab or Shift Tab, the Enter key is processed by Notes and the focus switches to the next document in the Inbox rather than opening the attachments dialog. The steps preceding this section describe how to open attachments in Notes mail while running JAWS.
- Some JAWS users find it helpful to edit the Notes email when reading it with the JAWS screen reader. Typing Ctrl + E will put the email into edit mode. Typing Ctrl + E again will put the email back into read only mode.
About the author
Maureen (Moe) Kraft has recently joined the IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center as Test consultant lead where she will pursue her passion of developing accessible solutions for IBM and its customers world wide. Prior to joining the HA&AC, Moe Kraft was a developer of Lotus products for 15+ years working primarily on the development of Lotus Notes Messaging and Collaboration features.
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