Tech Tips

Welcome to our Technology Tips section! The NFB Jernigan Institute Access Technology team is always on the lookout for new and better ways to give blind people access to technology, as the ever-growing International Braille and Technology Center attests. In these tips we want to share some of the pointers manufacturers and developers share with us to help you learn about new applications and new programs, and to help you find new functionality in familiar products. The Access Technology team works with the relevant manufacturers and developers to obtain the tips listed here, to make sure that you get the best and latest about anything new in the world of non-visual access technology.


If you have any feedback on the tips, please contact Clara Van Gerven at

EasyConverter Tips!

TIP #1: Using Microsoft Word with EasyConverter

Applying a heading style
Applying a heading style means assigning a specific inbuilt Microsoft Word style to the current paragraph.  How this heading style appears can be defined by you but it must be the built into the heading style that is used.  It cannot simply be the customising of normal text with different font styles.
You can apply a heading style to a paragraph in a number of ways: through the "Styles and Formatting" task pane, through the "Formatting" toolbar or through a pre-defined Microsoft Word hot key.

The pre-defined Microsoft Word hot keys are:

To apply the Heading 1 style:
Press: Ctrl + Alt + 1.

To apply the Heading 2 style:
Press: Ctrl + Alt + 2.

To apply the Heading 3 style:
Press Ctrl + Alt + 3.

Window-Eyes 6.1 and Windows Vista

GW Micro released public beta versions of Window-Eyes version 6.1 beginning on January 30, 2006 which was also the general release of Microsoft Windows Vista.  This is the first time in computer history when an MS Windows-based screen reader was available on the same day as a new operating system.  The final release of version 6.1 will follow shortly, but this series of articles highlights features which apply both to the public beta as well as the final release of version 6.1.

Victor Reader Stream Tech Tip: Bookmark Alert

This Tech Tip requires Stream software version 3.0. To update your Stream to version 3.0 visit: 
and select the link to download the latest software.

Smartphones and Smart Hal

Smart Hal is a screen reader for Windows Mobile 5 and Mobile 6 Smartphones.  The first thing you might think is "Wonderful, I can access my phone!" The second thought you might have is, "What is the difference between a Smartphone and a cell phone?" This article will take you through what you'll find on a Smartphone and how Smart Hal works with these great features.

Dolphin Tips on Forms Mode, Application Notes and Magnification Modes

Tip:  Using Forms on the Internet

Turning on Forms Mode

Did you know that when using virtual focus, turning "forms mode" on in Supernova/Hal 6.03 or later will allow you to type text in web page forms? To turn on "forms mode", either (a) press Caps Lock and Enter whilst on a web page or (b) go to the Supernova/Hal control panel, select the "File" menu, select "Situation Settings" and then select "Forms mode" by highlighting it and pressing the SPACEBAR. Now you will find as you tab around a web page in virtual focus you will be able to enter text into forms, search and other edit areas.

HumanWare's BrailleNote mPower and BrailleNote PK can now access RFB&D AudioPlus DAISY Books

HumanWare's US customers can now use their built-in BrailleNote DAISY book reader to access the more than 100,000 AudioPlus'  books available from RFB&D®. Because these books are password protected, they require special software to play. This software is enabled in KeySoft 7.21 build 54.

When you have installed the software, follow these steps to play the RFB&D® AudioPlus® books on your BrailleNote:

1. If you are not already a member, apply for membership of the RFB&D® library. The application forms are available at

Working with Documents in Dolphin SuperNova and Hal

Reading and editing documents with SuperNova/Hal couldn't be easier. As you navigate through the text, SuperNova/Hal reads the text underneath your cursor out loud one letter, word or line at a time, depending on which navigation keys you press.

Move the cursor left or right and each character will be announced.  Move one word at a time by pressing CONTROL + CURSOR LEFT or RIGHT and each word will be announced.  And, by moving to a new line using CURSOR UP or CURSOR DOWN the line will be announced.

Do you want more information? SuperNova/Hal contains an array of speak keys that go beyond giving you just the character, word or line announcement.  These are all multikey commands.

Victor Reader Stream: FAQ

Q. Are NLS books now available for download?

A. NLS has recently opened an expanded pilot download site of digital talking books and magazines for NLS patrons who are registered for NLS service by their local library, who have a computer and high speed Internet connection to download the books, and who also have an NLS authorized digital book player capable of playing the NISO books downloaded from the NLS server.    

Q. Who qualifies for NLS talking book service?

A. Only residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard print materials as a result of a temporary or permanent visual, physical limitation may receive NLS audio book services.  Each individual must be certified first before accessing the NLS audio book services. 

Freedom Scientific Braille Displays: Using Whiz Wheels for Greater Productivity

Freedom Scientific's Focus 80 and 40-cell Braille displays and PAC Mate Portable 40 and 20-cell Braille displays are affordable, versatile refreshable Braille displays, and when used with JAWS' screen reading software, they are packed with advanced features and options. One of the unique features available on both of these Braille displays is the programmable Whiz Wheels. The Whiz Wheels, placed at either end of the line of Braille cells on each Braille display, have been positioned to promote the greatest comfort and economy of hand movement. Using the Whiz Wheels, it is possible to navigate quickly and efficiently through files, dialog boxes and menus without ever removing your hands from the Braille display.

Eliminating the Pains and Strains of Computer Use

Most would agree that computers are not inherently user-friendly. Many find using a computer to be painful, while others find daily computer use requires significant effort. These pains and strains of computer use are even more pronounced when the user is dealing with low vision or blindness. 

Most programs, however, can be controlled with keyboard shortcuts which often simplify the interaction.  Of course it would be overwhelming to try and learn them all. Instead, start with the most useful shortcuts in your most used programs and as well as some basic desktop shortcuts.

The USDA TARGET Center will be presenting a series of these shortcuts in this space.  More detailed trainings are also available online and in-person through the TARGET Center.