Image of Orbit Reader and text

Orbit Reader 20: Using the Orbit with a Windows PC

This article will focus on the unique aspects of using the Orbit Reader 20 with a Windows PC running either JAWS or NVDA.

NOTE: There are seven other articles in this series that may help you familiarize yourself with the Orbit and its capabilities:

Layout and Menu Structure of the Orbit Reader 20

File Structure of the Orbit Reader 20.  

Reading and Working in Files on the Orbit Reader 20

Editing Basics on the Orbit Reader 20

Translating a File Created on the Orbit to Print

Using the Orbit Reader with a Chromebook

Using an Orbit Reader with an iOS Device

In this article, we will look at use of the Orbit Reader 20 when connected to a Windows PC.  Please note that this article focuses on use of the Orbit with either JAWS or NVDA as a screen reader, not on using the screen reader itself.  Commands and directions will be provided on use of the specific device with the latest version of Windows, JAWS, and NVDA.

JAWS and NVDA: The Brains Behind the Operation

As always, the Orbit Reader needs a screen reading program to work.  If you do not have the screen reader turned on, there is no way for the device to “talk” to the Orbit Reader.  This is true of all braille displays, not just the Orbit. Please see the resources section at the bottom of this article for further information and commands for each individual screen reader.

Physically Connecting the Orbit to your PC

This series of steps will walk you through connecting your Orbit to your PC using the included Micro USB Cord.  

Step One: Physically connect the Orbit to your PC using the included Micro USB cord

Step Two: Turn on your Orbit Reader by pressing the power key in the back of the unit and holding it for three seconds.  

Step Three: Put the orbit in remote mode using space and dots two and seven

Setting up JAWS to work with the Orbit Reader

Before being able to use JAWS with your Orbit, you will need to download the driver and configure your screen reader.  

Directions for Downloading and Installing the Driver

As previously mentioned, JAWS cannot work with the Orbit unless the display driver is downloaded and installed.  

Steps to download the driver

Step One: Follow this link to download the driver and save the file in the location of your choice.

Step Two: Open the location where you saved the file.  Activate the context menu by right clicking, using the application key on your keyboard (if present), or using Shift + F10.  Scroll down to “extract” and either click on it or press enter when it is in focus.

Step Three: Follow the steps in the Extraction Wizard by continuing to click OK until you are finished.  The extracted file folder will be in the same location you’d downloaded the original zipped file.

Step Four: Open the folder, then open the “installer” folder.  You can then choose whether to install the 32 or 64 bit version of the driver.  

Step Five: Follow the instructions in the Installation Wizard.  You are now ready to proceed with setting up JAWS

Configuring Braille Settings in JAWS

In order for the Orbit to be used with a screen reader, it must be set up properly.  Following are the steps to set JAWS up to work with the Orbit Reader. You may also click here to be directed to the exact time stamp in a YouTube video that demonstrates the process.  

Step One: If JAWS is not running already, use the default shortcut key to enable it (note that it sometimes takes a few minutes to start).

Step Two: Bring JAWS into focus with an Insert + J.  If it is not running from the system tray, use Alt + O to open the Options menu, then arrow down to Braille and press Enter.

Step Three: Press Tab until you are focused on the “Add Braille Display” button and press Enter.

Step Four: You will be placed in a list of checkboxes.  Scroll down the list until you hear “Orbit Reader 20” and press the spacebar to check the box.  

Step Five: Press Tab until you hear the “Next” button, and then press Enter

Step Six: Here you may select the braille display that will be active by default when starting JAWS.  Use the combo box to select Orbit Reader or you may choose to select “No Display”. Either way, you will press the Tab key until the “Finish” button is in focus, and them press Enter to close the wizard.

Step Seven: You will be directed back to the previous dialogue box.  Use Tab to navigate to the “OK” button to exit the dialogue box.

Note: You may need to restart JAWS at this time in order for the settings to take effect.  

Navigating with the Orbit Reader 20 and JAWS

After you’ve connected the unit to your PC, downloaded and installed the driver, and configured JAWS to use the Orbit, you can begin to use the device in conjunction with your PC to read and enter text.  

JAWS uses a series of “emulator commands”.  That is, since the braille display does not have a Windows, Alt, or Control key and you cannot press a series of these keys at once like you would to perform a keyboard shortcut such as Control + P to print or Control + Shift + R to reply to all in an email, it needs to “emulate” a standard keyboard.  It might help to think of JAWS as a behind the scenes brain or translator. It translates the key combinations entered on the Orbit into key combinations that Windows can understand.

Please note that you do NOT need to use these commands and you may choose to move your hands between the braille display and the keyboard when you need to press the Windows key or Alt + Tab between programs.  However, this method tends to slow you down and decrease efficiency. Slowly learning and integrating use of these commands a few at a time is certainly worth considering and you may find that it was worth investing the time.  

Jaws Commands for Orbit Reader 20 Braille Displays         

View the commands below or download the commands here.

Jaws Reading Commands



Move display to the left

Left Arrow

Move display to the right

Right Arrow

Move display up one line

Up Arrow

Move display down one line

Down Arrow

Pan left one braille window

Left Advance Bar

Pan right one braille window

Right Advance Bar

Top of active window

Select + Dots 1 2 3

Bottom of active window

Select + Dots 4 5 6

Route braille to active cursor

Select + R

Say current line

Space + Dots 1 4

Say current word

Space + Dots 2 5

Say current character

Space + Dots 3 6


Jaws Navigation Commands



Previous document window

Space + Dots 1 3

Next document window

Space + Dots 4 6

Beginning of file

Space + Dots 1 2 3

End of file

Space + Dots 4 5 6

Page Up

Space + Dots 1 2 3 4 5

Page Down

Space + Dots 1 2 4 5 6


Space + Dots 1 2 3 4


Space + Dots 1 4 5 6

Up Arrow

Space + Dot 1

Down Arrow

Space + Dot 4

Previous word

Space + Dot 2

Next word

Space + Dot 5

Previous character

Space + Dot 3

Next character

Space + Dot 6


Jaws Editing Commands



Backspace (acts as shift key when typing braille characters)

Space + Dot 7


Space + Dot 8


Space + Dots 4 5

Shift + Tab

Space + Dots 1 2

Delete current character

Space + D

Select all

Space + Dots 1 8

Select to top of document

Space + Dots 1 2 3 7 8

Select to bottom of document

Space + Dots 4 5 6 7 8

Select previous page

Space + Dots 1 2 3 4 5 7 8

Select next page

Space + Dots 1 2 4 5 6 7 8

Select to beginning of line

Space + Dots 1 2 3 4 7 8

Select to end of line

Space + Dots 1 4 5 6 7 8

Select previous line

Space + Dots 1 7 8

Select next line

Space + Dots 4 7 8

Select previous word

Space + Dots 2 7 8

Select next word

Space + Dots 5 7 8

Select previous character

Space + Dots 3 7 8

Select next character

Space + Dots 6 7 8

Copy to clipboard

Space + Dots 1 4 8

Cut to clipboard

Space + Dots 1 3 4 6 8

Paste clipboard

Space + Dots 1 2 3 6 8


Space + Dots 1 3 5 6 8


Jaws Windows Commands



Start menu

Space + Dots 1 3 4 7 8

Toggle menu bar

Space + M


Space + Dots 1 3 5 6

Alt Tab

Space + T

Minimize all applications

Space + Dots 1 4 5 7 8


Jaws General Commands



Toggle keyboard help

Space + Dots 1 4 5 6

Toggle type keys mode

Space + Dots 1 2 3 4 5 6

JAWS cursor

Select + J

PC cursor

Select + P

Route JAWS cursor to PC cursor

Select + Dots 1 4

Say all to bottom

Space + Dots 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Toggle grade 2 translation

Space + G (Dots 1 2 4 5)

Toggle grade 2 translation of current word

Select + W (Dots 2 4 5 6)

Display last flash message

Select + F

JAWS find

Space + F

JAWS find next

Space + Dots 2 5 7 8

JAWS find previous

Space + Dots 2 5 7 8

Toggle active cursor follows braille

Select + Dot 1

Toggle braille follows active cursor

Select + Dot 4

Cycle through braille modes

Select + M

Display six-dot braille

Select + Dots 2 3 5

Display eight-dot braille

Select + Dots 2 3 6

Toggle cursor shape

Select + Dots 1 4 6

Restrict braille cursor

Select + R

Toggle characters and attributes

Select + Dots 1 6

Braille color marking

Select + Dots 1 4

Select attributes to be displayed

Select + Dots 1 3

Set 8 characters per space

Space + Dots 2 3 6

Set unlimited characters per space

Space + Dots 1 3 6

Toggle 8/unlimited characters per space

Select + Dots 1 3 4 6

Cycle table reading options

Select + T

Cycle table header options

Select + H

Graphics labeler

Select + G

Adjust JAWS options

Select + Dots 1 2 3 6

JAWS window

Space + J

Announce time

t + Dots 7 and 8

Show script file name

Select + Dots 1 2 3 4 5

Run JAWS manager

Space + 2 3 7 8


Jaws Special Key Commands



Ctrl + A – Ctrl + Z

Dot 8 + any letter

F1 – F10

Dot 7 + Computer Braille number 1 – 0 (0 = F10)

Ctrl + F1 – Ctrl + F10

Dot 8 + Computer Braille number 1 – 0

Setting up NVDA to Work with the Orbit Reader

Configuring Braille Settings in NVDA

As previously mentioned, we don’t need to download a driver to make NVDA work with the Orbit.  In fact, NVDA should automatically recognize the Orbit as a braille display. In the event that it does not, here are the steps you will need to follow to manually configure it.

Step One: If NVDA is not running already, open the program.  THE default key command is Alt + Control + N, but use whatever method with which you are most comfortable.  

Step Two: Bring up the NVDA Menu by using Insert (or Caps Lock) + N.  Press P to navigate to “Preferences”, then press S for “Settings”.

Step Three: You are now in the Settings dialogue and in a list of settings options.  Either press B to navigate to the Braille Settings or arrow down to that point.

Step Four: Use the Tab key to navigate to the drop down to choose a braille display.  Select “Baum/Humanware/APH/Orbit Displays” and press Enter.

Step Five: At this point, you may choose to change various other braille settings such as braille translation table for input and output, cursor blind rate, and other options.  Keep pressing Tab until you are focused on the OK button.

Navigating with the Orbit Reader 20 and NVDA

As you can see from the table below, NVDA doesn’t have nearly the list of commands that JAWS does.



Move up one line

Up arrow

Move down one line

Down arrow

Move left one character

Left arrow

Move right one character

Right arrow



Which is Better to Use with the Orbit Reader, JAWS or NVDA?

That’s a loaded question because really, it depends on your needs.

If you want to use the braille display without the need to use a standard QWERTY keyboard often, you may want to either invest in a full functioning version of JAWS or use the 40 minute mode free demo available from the Freedom Scientific website.  

However, if all you really want to be able to do is input text or read files on your PC in braile, you might do better with the much less complex NVDA.  


Want more resources?  Here is a list to get you started!

Click here for the Orbit Reader 20 User Guide

Using the Orbit Reader with JAWS (links to the JAWS section of the Orbit User Guide)

Link to the JAWS driver for the Orbit Reader (click on the link that says OR-20 JAWS Driver)

Using the Orbit with NVDA (links to the NVDA section of the Orbit User Guide):


Attached File(s)
By Snowflake_tvi

Image of Orbit reader 20 with text

Orbit Reader 20: Using the Orbit with an iOS Device

Ipad displaying Chapter 3 of A Very Wimpy Kid with two-fingers making the Read All VoiceOver gesture.

Screen reader for low vision students?

Screenshot of Google Docs with focus on dictation button and text

Educational Example of Using Speech to Text and Dictation