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Use JAWS with Blackboard Collaborate

This article is archived and is no longer updated. Go to the latest information on using JAWS with Blackboard Collaborate.

Blackboard is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities can fully engage and participate in the teaching and learning experience. Blackboard removes barriers to universal access by providing a rich set of accessibility features in Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing. One such feature is support for the JAWS screen reader.

Blackboard supports JAWS versions 13 and 14. Older versions of JAWS may work but Blackboard does not officially support them.

The full set of accessibility features is available only in the English version of Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing 12.6 or later.

Enable the Java Access Bridge

The Java™ Access Bridge is a technology that enables assistive technologies, such as screen readers and magnifiers, to access Java applications and applets. To use Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing version 12.6 or higher with the JAWS screen reader, you must enable Java Access Bridge version 2.0.3 or higher.

The Java Access Bridge comes bundled with Java 7, update 6 or later, so there is no need to install it separately.

The version of Java that comes bundled with the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher does not support the Java Access Bridge. You must install Java 7, update 6 or later because it sets up the necessary configurations in the Windows Control Panel for enabling the Java Access Bridge.

To enable the Java Access Bridge, follow the instructions provided Behind the Blackboard in How do I enable the Java Access Bridge 2.0.3 in Java 7?

Get Ready for a Blackboard Collaborate Session

To use JAWS to navigate through the Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing interface, prepare by doing the following:

  1. Start JAWS before you log in to the session.
  2. Verify that the Java Access Bridge is working.
  3. Configure JAWS to read all access keys so the mnemonic keys are spoken aloud. This setting is found under the basic settings of JAWS.
  4. Enter the room early (before the session starts) so you can configure your Blackboard Collaborate interface to suit your particular needs.