DBT and Screen Readers for the Blind

DBT for Windows works with NVDA, Narrator, and JAWS. For information on NVDA and Narrator see the end of this topic.
When using DBT with JAWS, most users prefer to uncheck the check box Support for UI Automation in Global -> Internationalization. If it is checked, you may find many repetitions of the phrase DBT editing window.
JAWS Script Files

DBT comes with JAWS script files which support JAWS version 9 or higher. Please note that JAWS scripts are language-specific. There is a set for English use and now a set for Russian as well. (The JAWS script files for using DBT in Russian were developed by Elita Group. In addition, Freedom Scientific has been including JAWS script files for DBT, with localizations for many languages, since JAWS version 2020.)

When launched, DBT checks to see if your JAWS English settings folders have up-to-date copies of the JAWS script files for DBT. If not, it asks for permission to install the supplied English-language script files. As it installs the latest scripts, the system makes back-up copies of any files it replaces. After installing the new script files, it asks for permission to restart DBT. Given permission, it works on compiling the JAWS script files for each version of JAWS on the system. For each JAWS version on your system DBT installs the script files in your JAWS My settings folder, and they take precedence over the ones included with JAWS in the JAWS Scripts folder. As it installs the latest scripts, the system makes back-up copies of any files it replaces. After installing, it asks for permission to restart DBT and then works on compiling the JAWS script files for each version of JAWS on the system.

Note that, for Russian, the JAWS script files are not automatically installed at this point, but require manual installation.

JAWS Hot Keys in DBT
DBT Options in the JAWS Settings File dbtw.jcf

Five options for DBT have been added in the JAWS settings file dbtw.jcf. These are default settings for JAWS in DBT.

  1. Speaking level for braille lines = 1 for silent; 2 for speak braille lines as braille characters; 3 for read the translated line. This setting can also be toggled by pressing Alt + u or by using Quick Settings.
  2. EchoPC6KeyEntry is either 1 to announce 6-key entry as the constructed braille characters or 0 to continue using your usual JAWS keyboard echo setting. This setting can also be toggled by pressing Alt + p.
  3. SpeakBrailleCharactersAsLocalSigns is either 1 to hear English signs or 0 to hear ASCII characters. This setting can also be toggled in the JAWS Quick Settings.
  4. AnnounceChangeOfStyle is either 1 to have the style announced when it changes or 0 otherwise. This setting can also be toggled by pressing Alt + i or in the JAWS Quick Settings.
  5. Announce skip lines is either 1 to hear "skipped line" for a blank line that the cursor does not land on, as it is forced by the surrounding styles, or 0 otherwise.
  6. Show requested status info on braille display is either 1 to show info you request, such as the current location, on the braille display when JAWS announces it, or 0 to speak it only.
  7. Read print lines by word in coded view is either 1 to hear "code," "begin style," and "end style," for codes and styles while reading print lines in coded view, or 0 to read print lines in coded view the usual way. When this is set to 1, you may hear slight pauses between words. The default setting is 0.

Except for EchoPC6KeyEntry, these options can be changed in the JAWS Quick Settings under DBT Options, which is the first section that appears when you press Insert + v to open the JAWS Quick Settings. Press Space to toggle the setting for the highlighted option. Also the setting for EchoPC6KeyEntry can be toggled by pressing Alt+P in DBT. Those changes remain in effect until you change them again or restart JAWS. To make such a change more permanent, edit the file dbtw.jcf in a text editor and look for the section DBT Options near the bottom of the file.

Using JAWS in Tables

As of DBT 12.6 SR1, JAWS has a number of special features to help you navigate through the tables in your documents.

First, JAWS tells you when you are entering or exiting a table.

When you move from one table entry to another, JAWS tells you the column number and/or row number that has changed.

When you press Tab to move from one table entry to another, JAWS reads the new column entry.

When you are in a table and press the keystroke to read the current line, JAWS instead reads the current table entry.

When you enter the first column in the first row, JAWS tells you not to press Shift+Tab; when you enter the last column in the last row, JAWS tells you not to press Tab. (This prevents accidentally entering a Tab into the table data.)

Interpretation of Braille Cells

To hear a more generic reading of braille cells, not based on the English language context, go to the Global menu, and select Internationalization. In the section, Braille encoding for Input and Display, set the radio button control to: Prefer Unicode patterns for braille display.

Also in the Global menu, select Default views, and set the Default font for braille documents to Print. (Note: This also sets the font for the translated braille line.

Other Features for Editing
Using JAWS in the Help Topics

Navigating the DBT help files is like navigating other help files. To read the content for a given topic, press Enter on the topic and then F6 to focus on the content. Navigating within the content is similar to navigating web pages. Thus the screen reader hotkeys for navigating web pages generally work for navigating the help content.

Depending on the key you have defined as your "JawsKey", use JawsKey + F6 for the list of headings in the topic; JawsKey + F7 for the list of links in the topic. You can also use the JAWS Find commands to find specific text in the topic. These commands are JawsKey + Shift + F, then F3 and Shift + F3 to find further occurrences.

You can also use all of the quick navigation keystrokes for web pages. A few of these are h to move to the next heading, Shift + h to move to the previous heading, L to move to the next list, and greater than to move to the end of the current list.


NVDA provides voice and braille access to DBT.


Narrator provides voice access to DBT and braille access if you install BRLTTY. When using DBT with Narrator, it is important to have the check box called Support for UI Automation checked. Go to Global -> Internationalization to check that check box.