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Script to make the JAWS screen reader work better with the Audacity multitrack sound editor.


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2018-06-04 JAWS script for Audacity V2.0 (for script version 2.2.0 by Gary Campbell and Dang Manh Cuong

This JAWS script package provides support for Audacity 2.0.0 and later, including Audacity 2.2.0.


  • Keystrokes to speak selection start, selection end or length, and Audio Position from anywhere in the main window.
  • Keystrokes to move the focus to the selection range controls.
  • Displays JAWS and Audacity hotkey help.
  • The Audacity Guide for JAWS users, by David Bailes, is accessible from the Audacity keys help (JAWSKey+w).
  • Speaks main window areas: Toolbars, Track panel, and Selection bar, as focus moves between them.
  • Speaks the toolbar name when focus moves from one toolbar to another.
  • When focus is in the toolbars pressing CTRL+TAB and Shift+CTRL+TAB move to the first control on the next toolbar and the last control on the previous toolbar, respectively.
  • Can be configured to play audio preview at cursor position when left/right arrows are pressed and Audacity is stopped when focus is in the Track panel.
  • Can be configured to speak cursor position when left/right arrows are pressed and focus is in the track panel.
  • Keystrokes that extend or contract the selection can be configured to speak the new position or to play an audio preview.
  • Indicates when there are no tracks in the project for many operations.
  • Keystrokes are provided to speak (maximum peak) value of recording and playback meters.
  • Track gain and pan controls are passed to the application when the PC cursor is active and focus is in the main window. Otherwise they execute their default mouse movement functions.
  • In many VST plug-ins, keystrokes move focus to the Presets control and activate save/Load Presets.
  • In many plug-in dialogs control names and values are spoken.
  • Multilanguage support: English, German, and Spanish are supported. There is also a Vietnamese translation of the README file. It is in the file audacity_readme_vi.html in the installation folder in your program files (or local appdata) folder.
  • While in the main window JAWSKey+Shift+DownArrow (SaySelectedText) speaks track numbers (or names if pressed twice quickly) of selected tracks.
  • You can go to a track by number. You can also move a track to a specific position by number. You can also set a "mark" on a track and later return there, or move a track there.
  • Feedback is provided when moving a track via the keyboard. (See below.)
  • The installer can install for all users or the current user. All user installs can install in the shared scripts, including for JAWS 17.
  • When playing or recording the ENTER key executes pause/resume. In this case, pressing CTRL+ENTER sends ENTER. I like this because the numpad ENTER key is easier to find than "p" if your hands are off the keyboard. this can be turned off with an option in Adjust JAWS Options. Try it out and let us know if it works for you and if you like it.

Installing and Uninstalling the Script

To install:

  1. Place the installer in a folder on your machine.
  2. Run it to install the files.

Three install types are supported:

  • Just Script: installs the script but does not install uninstall information or make a folder in %ProgramFiles%.
  • Full: installs the script in the script folder for the selected versions/languages, creates a folder in %programfiles% (%localappdata% for current user install) (the installation folder) wich contains an uninstaller and optional additional files such as README, etc.
  • Custom: like Full but allows installation of the installer source.

For full or custom installations for all users the uninstaller and README files are installed in the installation folder.

If you choose the Just Script install type, the README and What's New files will be installed in the JAWS scripts folder for each version, and What's will be called (The Vietnamese README file will not be installed in a Just Script install.)

The Versions/Languages page displays a list of the JAWS versions/languages installed on your machine. Press SPACE to check the JAWS versions you want to install into. It will compile the script package for each JAWS version. Note that the script will only be properly compiled for the language of the currently running JAWS.

If the user's priveleges allow for installing for all users, an all user install is performed. Otherwise a current user install is performed. If privileges allow for all user installation, current user installation can be forced by adding the /currentuser command line switch.

For all user installs, on the Versions/Languages page you can choose whether to install the script for the current user or for all users.

If you want to modify the installer, or are just curious how it works, you can install the installer source by selecting the Custom install type and choosing the Install Installer source component.

To uninstall:

The package can be uninstalled via Program Features (Add/Remove Programs). You can also run uninst.exe in the installation folder (%programfiles(x86)%\Jaws Script for Audacity or %localappdata%\Jaws Script for Audacity).

If the uninstaller detects that the script files have been modified since they were installed, it asks for confirmation before removing them. A Yes response will delete all modified files. A No response will leave them all. The settings file (audacity.jcf or audacity.jsi) is not removed.

Using the Script

Note: The script speaks names for some Audacity keystrokes, and uses others for performing some of its operations. If you reassign these keys in Audacity Preferences > Keyboard, you must also change their assignments in audacity.jkm if you want the script to continue to function properly. Some of the script features may not work with the Default key set.


Once installed, the script will speak a welcome message the first time Audacity gains focus. You can browse the list of keystrokes the script provides by pressing JAWSKey+h (HotKeyHelp). You can get a list of Audacity keystrokes by pressing JAWSKey+w. This page also has a link that will open the Audacity Guide for JAWS users, by David Bailes, in your web browser.

You can read the Selection Start and End/Length fields by pressing Alt+[ and Alt+], respectively. Pressing these keys twice quickly will move focus to these fields. Note that in Audacity versions prior to 2.2.0 Alt+] speaks "end" or "length" depending on the setting of the Selection bar radio buttons.

When the PC cursor is active, pressing Alt+DEL speaks the value of the Audio Position field. (This is useful when playing or recording.) When pressed twice quickly, the normal JAWS function is performed.

Pressing JAWSKey+DEL announces what state Audacity is in currently-- stopped, play, play pause, record, or record pause. (This information is also available on the status bar in recent versions of Audacity.)

In Audacity 2.2.0 the Selection bar End/Length radio buttons have been replaced by a combo box which adds additional choices. There are keys to read and set this control. They all start with the layered keys JAWSKey+a, p. Then press one of these keys:

  • s or 1: set start/end
  • l or 2: set start/length
  • e or 3: set length/end
  • c or 4: set length/center
  • p: say current setting
  • ?: speak a help message for this layer.

Alt+[ speaks the value listed first and Alt+RightArrow speaks the second. After the ? you can press one of these keys without repeating the keys to activate the layer.

The script version can be obtained by pressing JAWSKey+CONTROL+V (twice quickly to display it in the virtual viewer). It also appears in JAWS hot key help.

The URL for accessing the Audacity Guide for JAWS users can be modified via the script by pressing Control+Shift+j. This opens a dialog with an edit box containing the URL. Update or replace it and press OK.

When entering a label in a label track JAWS used to speak the Audacity functions for letter keys even though the letters were being entered into the label. We now suppress this behavior if you use the standard methods for creating a label. This feature is activated by the Control+b and Control+m keys and is deactivated when ENTER is pressed. It is also deactivated if you arrow to another track or if focus moves out of the Track panel. It will not activate if you arrow to the label track and start typing. If you change the standard key assignments for these commands you will also need to change audacity.jkm accordingly.

When focus is in a label track pressing TAB will try to speak the "current" label. This is done by searching for text with a white background. This doesn't always work, particularly with a lot of labels. (In recent versions of Audacity Alt+Left/RightArrow works better.)

Previewing Audio

You can configure the script to play audio after cursor motion commands. There are two options of intrest in Quick Settings for this. Announce Position controls whether or not cursor positions are spoken with cursor motion commands. If Preview Motion is on, a Preview command (Shift+F6 for the start position and Shift+F7 for the end position) is executed following the cursor key. This allows you to hear a portion of audio at the start or end of the selection. Note that the length of this audio will probably be longer than the audio moved over by the cursor. You can temporarily toggle between speaking the position and playing audio with JAWSKey+p. The settings will return to the values specified by the quick settings if Quick Settings is opened or if focus moves away from Audacity and back.

When in the selection start/end position fields Shift+UpArrow and Shift+DownArrow silently increment and decrement the digit and then play a preview.

There are several keys that execute the previewing keys that are more convenient to reach. In the track panel and Selection bar JAWSKey+LeftArrow executes Shift+F6 and JAWSKey+RightArrow executes Shift+F7. These play the start and end of the selection (inside the selection). Adding Shift plays just before and after (outside) the selection.

The JAWSKey+a,s (short) layer also executes the previewing keys. This can be useful for laptops that require you to hold the FN key to execute function keys. Once you activate the layer, j, k, l, and ; execute Shift+F5 through Shift+F8. Control+j executes Control+Shift+F5 and Control+l executes Control+Shift+F7. This layer also executes left/right arrows, Shifted and Shift+Control left/right arrows, SayCharacter, SayWord, SayLine, and c. ? speaks help for the layer. Once you activate this layer you can press any of these keys without pressing the initial layer keys. Pressing ESC or a key that is not in the layer exits the layer.

Script Options

The script has several options that control some of its features. They can be accessed by pressing JAWSKey+v. For JAWS versions prior to 13 these settings are stored in file audacity.jsi in the PersonalSettings folder of the JAWS installation. For version 13 and later they are stored in audacity.jcf in the NonJCFOptions section. If you upgrade from a version of JAWS before 13 to 13 or later the settings are not transferred from audacity.jsi, so you will have to set them again.

Going to and Moving Tracks

It is possible to go to a track by number, move a track to a position by number, and remember a track position to return there later or to move a track there. Feedback is also given if you move a track with the keyboard. This feature only works in Audacity 2.1.1 and later, and requires some configuration in Audacity. You must assign the Move Focused Track Up Audacity command to Control+Shift+UpArrow and Move Focused Track Down to Control+Shift+DownArrow. To do this:

  1. In Audacity open Preferences (CTRL+p) and go to the Keyboard category (press k).
  2. Tab to the edit box and enter "move focused" (I'm using tree view).
  3. Tab to the tree view and find Move focused track down.
  4. Tab to the Shortcut field and press Control+Shift+DownArrow.
  5. Tab to the Set button and press SPACEBAR to activate it.
  6. Press Shift+TAB twice to move back to the tree view.
  7. Find the Move focused track up command and assign Control+Shift+UpArrow to it in the same way.
  8. Tab to OK and press SPACEBAR.

If you want to use different keys you will have to change the assignments in audacity.jkm.

Once configured, you can go to a track by pressing JAWSKey+a,g. The script prompts for a number. You can enter a number to go to that track. Prefix the number with + to move down (to higher track numbers) that many tracks, or - to move up. You can move a track with JAWSKey+a,m. You can mark the current track with JAWSKey+a,k. Then you can return to the marked track with JAWSKey+a,Shift+g and move the current track to the marked position with JAWSKey+a,Shift+m. Note that this mark simply remembers a track number, so if you add or delete tracks above it, it will point to the wrong track. SayLine (JAWSKey+Numpad8) speaks the number of the current track and the total number of tracks when focus is in the track panel. (Some of you may be thinking, "but Audacity already says track numbers." It does when you create a track, but not if you rename it, or if it is the result of importing a file.)

Determining Tempo

The JAWSKey+a,t layer allows you to determine the tempo by tapping along with the music. To do this, move to the start of the audio. Then press JAWSKey+a,t,SPACE. Audacity starts playing. While playing, tap ENTER for each beat. When you press SPACE again, the tempo in beats per minute is spoken. a speaks it again. c copies it to the clipboard. The tempo value is retained until the next time SPACE in the tempo layer is pressed. This feature is based on a similar feature in the NVDA add-on by Robert Hänggi, although the algorithm is slightly different.

Note: There is another implementation of this feature that more closely follows the NVDA algorithm but requires JAWS 11 update 1. To activate it, run Audacity and open Script Manager by pressing JAWSKey+0 (on the typing keys numbers row). You can locate the relevant sections by searching for "JAWS 11". There are two sections that need to be uncommented and one that needs to be commented out. To uncomment a section, place a semicolon (;) just before the /* and */ at the start/end of the section. To comment out a section, remove the semicolon before its /* and */ markers. Then press Control+s to save and compile the script.


  1. This version of the script adds the ability to silence previewing in effects like Amplify. Sometimes this doesn't get turned off. If this happens, switching focus away from Audacity and back will turn it off.

  2. The position fields sometimes are not shortened. This happens because the JAWS GetWindowText function returns just the numbers with no h, m, :, etc. We do not know what causes this. I have been able to correct this by shutting down and restarting Audacity. This was observed with JAWS 10, 15, 16, 17, and 18. I have observed that this problem sometimes goes away on its own.

  3. If the "ENTER Pauses during play/record" feature is on (which is the default), ENTER will not select or unselect the current track while playing or recording. Use Control+ENTER instead of ENTER in this case.

  4. If you redefine the numpad ENTER key and set JAWS to treat extended keys separately, both ENTER keys will be mapped to the typing keys ENTER. If you don't like this feature you can deactivate it by adding a semicolon on the lines for ENTER, NumPadEnter, and Control+ENTER in audacity.jkm and removing semicolons on the lines containing /* and */ before and after scripts Enter and CtrlEnter in audacity.jss. If you modify audacity.jss, please change the version constant so we'll know it is a modified version if you communicate with us about it.

  5. In versions of JAWS prior to 13 the keystroke for setting script options (JAWSKey+v) will not appear in hotkey help. It will still work, however. We could script around this if it turns out to be a problem.

  6. For the g and h keys that speak the values of the recording or playback meters to work, the appropriate toolbars must be enabled and docked. If enabling them in View > Toolbars doesn't solve the problem, they may be undocked. To fix this reset the toolbars (View > Toolbars > Reset Toolbars) and disable/enable any toolbars you have changed.

Multiple Language Support

This version of the installer framework contains support for installation of the script in multiple languages. It now treats version/language pairs as it previously treated versions, so the version selection list view now shows entries like 16.0/enu. English, German, and Spanish are currently supported.

The installer now compiles the script for each language. Although the JAWS script compiler always compiles the script files for the language of the currently-running version of JAWS, the installer now uses the JAWSUtil.vbs script from Doug Lee's BX toolkit which works around this problem. Therefore, you will no longer need to run JAWS with each of the other languages and compile the script.

Notes for script developers

If you modify the script files, please update the version constant near the beginning of audacity.jss. This is particularly important if you distribute the script. Even if you just modify it for your own use, this will make sure we know it is a modified version if you communicate with us about it.

Messages and string constants for the JAWS script are in audacity.jsm and audacity.qsm. Note that starting with version 2.2.0, the message files must be in UTF-8 encoding.

The installer messages are now localizable. The message text has now been separated from the installer code so that message sets can be prepared for each language. English, German, and Spanish are currently supported. Messages are in .nsh header files with names like *_enu.nsh or *_lang_enu.nsh. These file's must also be in UTF-8 encoding. NSIS 3.0 or later is required to build the installer.

This package is now hosted on GitHub. The repository is at If you would like to contribute changes to the script, please see in the repository.

Notes for Translators

Note that readme.html and readme_vi.html are generated from and, which are only available from the GitHub repository. See for more information.


  • Script coding: Gary Campbell and Dang Manh Cuong
  • German translation: Michael Vogt
  • Spanish translation: Fernando Gregoire
  • Vietnamese README: Nguyen Hoang Giang, Dang Manh Cuong, and Le Thi Theu
  • JAWSUtil.vbs: Copyright 2009-2017 by Doug Lee (from BX Toolkit revision 1876). (See jfw_nsh\JAWSUtil.vbs for details.)


Recent script development was done with Audacity 2.1.3 and 2.2.0 alpha and beta versions. It will probably work with any JAWS after 5.0, although the options for Audacity in Adjust JAWS Verbosity may not look very good, and this hasn't been tested. (I remember that one of the JAWS functions we use was marked in the FSDN as requiring JAWS 10.) Recent development has been done with JAWS 17, 18, and 2018 beta (build 1708.29) on a 64-bit laptop running Windows 10. Although support remains for previous versions of JAWS, the current code has not been tested with them. There is no specific Braille support at this time.

I would be interested in feedback on the script and suggestions for improvement, but can't promise any updates.

Here is the text of the JAWS hot key help:

To say the selection start position, press Alt+[.
To say the selection end position, press Alt+].
To move focus to these controls, press the key twice quickly.
To say the Audio Position value, press Alt+Delete.
To say the active cursor while the PC cursor is active, press Alt+Delete twice quickly.
To Say the current selection type (Audacity 2.2.0 and later), press JAWSKey+a, p, p.
To set the selection type (Audacity 2.2.0 and later), press JAWSKey+a,p followed by s (start-end), l (end-length), e (length-end) or c (length-center).
 You can also use the numbers 1-4.
In the main window to say the numbers of the selected tracks, press Shift+Insert+ExtendedDownArrow.  Press twice quickly to say track names.

In the track panel and selection bar , to preview audio after (inside) the selection start, press JAWSKey+LeftArrow
In the track panel and selection bar , to preview audio before (inside) the selection end, press JAWSKey+RightArrow
In the track panel and selection bar , to preview audio before (outside) the selection start, press Control+Shift+ExtendedLeftArrow
In the track panel and selection bar , to preview audio after (outside) the selection end, press JAWSKey+Shift+RightArrow

To switch between playing audio and speaking position time for cursor motion commands, press JAWSKey+p.  
This is the same as setting Motion Preview on and Announce Position off, or setting  Motion Previewing off and Announce Position on.  Thus you can quickly
toggle between hearing the cursor position or hearing audio.  This is a temporary change.  It does not change the saved value of these settings, and the
settings will revert to the Quick Settings values after opening Quick Settings or switching focus away from Audacity.
To increase gain of focus track, press Alt+Shift+UpArrow.
To reduce gain of focus track, press Alt+Shift+DownArrow.
To adjust pan left, press Alt+Shift+LeftArrow.
To adjust pan right, press Alt+Shift+RightArrow.
The last 4 keys replace the default JAWS mouse movement scripts while focus is in the main window.  If you want to activate the original functionality while
in the main window, turn on the JAWS cursor.

To say the value of the recording meter, press g.
 Press twice quickly to move focus to the meter.
To say the value of the playback meter, press h.
 Press twice quickly to move focus to the meter.

To go to a track by number, press JAWSKey+a, g.
To move the current track to a track position by number, press JAWSKey+a, m.
To mark the current track, press JAWSKey+a, k.
To go to the marked track, press JAWSKey+a, Shift+g.
To go to the marked track and mark the starting track, press JAWSKey+a, x.
To move the current track to the position of the marked track and set the mark to the current track, press Insert+a, Shift+m.

To find the tempo, press Insert+a, t, SPACE.  Playback starts.  Then press Insert+a, t, ENTER for each beat.  (You only need to press the last key of the
sequence for any Tempo layer key once you have entered the Tempo layer.)  
When you are finished press Insert+a, t, SPACE again.  Playback stops and the tempo in beats per minute is spoken.  
After that you can press JAWSKey+a, t, a to speak the tempo again or JAWSKey+a, t, c to copy it to the clipboard.  The value will be retained until Insert+a,
t, SPACE is pressed again.  It is wise to press ESC when you are done with the Tempo layer to avoid confusion.  
The tempo is calculated by dividing the time of the last beat minus the time of the first beat by the number of beats minus 1.

To toggle speech on or off, press Shift+Insert+S.
To toggle alert messages on or off, press Control+`).  This duplicates the Announce Audacity messages option in Adjust JAWS options.
See What's for more info.

In a toolbar to move to the next toolbar press Control+Tab
In a toolbar to move to the previous toolbar press Control+Shift+Tab

To speak the program's state (play/pause/record/stop) press JAWSKey+delete

To switch between the two lists in the Edit Chains dialog, press F6.

To get help with Audacity hot keys, press Insert+w.
To get the default Windows hot key help, press Insert+w twice quickly.

To change settings for the Audacity script, press   JAWSKey+V.
To reset all script options to default values, press Control+Shift+`

If the "ENTER pauses during play/record" option is on, pressing Enter while playing or recording sends the Pause key.  Use Control+ENTER to execute ENTER
in this situation.

If Silence Effect Preview is on and you hit the Preview button in an effect, sometimes the silencing of the previewing does not get turned off.  This will
result in missing speech that occurs as a result of focus changes.  You can fix this by switching away from Audacity and back.
In some common VST plugins, such as L1V:
To set focus to the preset control, press Alt+P.
To load an existing preset, press  .
To save the current settings as a preset, press  Alt+S.

To Change the URL for the Audacity Jaws Guide, press Control+Shift+J



Script to make the JAWS screen reader work better with the Audacity multitrack sound editor.



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