When a student is editing (or writing!) a document, it is important that the student have the same editing tools available as his/her sighted peers. Both Microsoft Word and Google Docs provide visual clues when there are potential grammatical or spelling errors. Identifying potential grammatical errors is very helpful for writers of all ages!
What about students who are visually impaired? Freedom Scientific explains how the different web browsers and applications impact whether grammatical error announcements are automatically on or off, and how you can change these settings.
Starting in the JAWS and Fusion April 2021 update, the Grammar and Advanced Proofing feature is on by default except in MS Word and Outlook.
This change will only impact the applications that check for grammatical errors. For example, within web browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge, online editing tools such as Google Docs can detect grammatical errors. This feature is always on in Google Docs, so JAWS will announce the grammatical errors that Google Docs detects.
Note that online editors are not as good at detecting grammatical errors as applications such as MS Word. The efficiency of grammatical error detection may also be impacted by the internet connection and the server used for checking them.
In MS Word and Outlook, JAWS and Fusion will not announce grammatical errors by default. The Grammar and Advanced Proofing feature is turned off in the JAWS Settings Center.
And in MS Word, the Mark grammar errors as you type feature is off by default. Both options would need to be turned on for JAWS to announce grammatical errors.
Instructions are included within the solution below. But keep in mind that since MS Word does a good job at detecting grammatical errors, the announcement of each error while listening to a Word document could become quite distracting:
Turning grammar detection on or off in JAWS (it is on by default):
Open the JAWS Menu > Utilities > Settings Center. (Insert + J opens the JAWS menu.)
In the Application combo box, select either Default (All applications) or select the application you want to change.
In the search edit box, type grammar.
Navigate to the Grammar and Advanced Proofing option, then press the Spacebar to toggle it.
Select the OK button.
Turning grammar detection on or off in Microsoft Word (it is off by default):
Open MS Word.
Open File > Options -> Proofing.
Navigate to the Mark grammar errors as you type checkbox, then press the Spacebar to toggle it.
Select the OK button.
Are there times that students should turn off the spelling and grammar announcements? Absolutely! If the student is taking a language arts quiz or test in which the student has to find the misspelled words/grammatical errors and during a spelling test are prime examples of when these announcements should be turned off!
By Diane Brauner