HTML Page Navigation Guide

A guide for Jaws users, written by Chorlton Workshop for hsbp. More guides are available on the Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.


This guide describes the ways you can move around an HTML page, and assumes you are using Jaws 15 or later. The HTML page could be a web page, an email, an help page, or a document such as this. The methods for navigation are given in the following list, and most of them are described in detail in the subsequent sections:

Top of the page

If you press Ctrl + Home, you move to the top of the page, Jaws stops reading the page and says the title of the page.

When you move to a new HTML page, Jaws gives you some info about the page, like the number of headings and links on the page, and then starts reading the page. Often you'll want to navigate to the place in the page which you're interested in using the quick navigation keys, rather than just letting Jaws read through the page. In this case, once you arrive at a new page, it's a good idea to press Ctrl + Home before using the quick navigation keys, to make sure you're at the top of the page and don't miss any elements.

An exception to pressing Ctrl + Home when you come to new page is when the focus is automatically taken to a form control somewhere on the page. For example, when you go to the Google home page, the initial focus is the search edit box. Other examples are pages where you need to login, and the initial focus is on the username edit box. In all these cases, if you press Ctrl + Home, you'll loose the convenient focus.

For many HTML elements, you can move through the instances of a particular element in the page by pressing a single key. You can also move backwards through these instances by adding Shift to the single key. For example, by repeatedly pressing the H key you can read all the headings on a page, in their normal reading order, and read them in reverse order by pressing Shift + H.

The following table gives the most frequently used navigation quick keys. In all cases you can move to the prior element by adding the Shift key.

Description Keystroke
Next heading H
Next heading at level 1 – 6
Next paragraph P
Next list L
Next item in a list I
Next table T
Next form control F
Next button B
Next combo box C
Next Edit box E
Next radio button A
Next check box X

Lists of HTML elements

For many HTML elements, Jaws can create a list of the instances of the element on a page, and present them in a dialog box. For example, if you press Insert + F7, then a dialog box opens which contains a list box which contains all the links on the page.

The main advantage of using one of these list dialogs rather than one of the quick navigation keys, is that if you are looking for a particular instance of an element, you can use the first letter of the text to quickly find it in the list box. For example, if you know that there's a “create” link somewhere on the page, then after you have opened the links list dialog, you can press the letter C until you find the create link in the list. In addition, some of the dialog boxes contain controls to filter the list to help you find something.

Some of the more useful list dialogs are described in the following sections.

List of links

To open a dialog containing a list of links on the page, press Insert + F7. The dialog box contains the following controls, where the first three are the most important:

Lists of form controls

Jaws can create either a list of all the form controls on the page, or a list of a particular type of form control. The keystrokes for opening the list dialogs are as follows:

List of elements Keystroke
All form controls Insert + F5
Buttons Ctrl + Insert + B
Check boxes Ctrl + Insert + X
Combo boxes Ctrl + Insert + C
Edit boxes Ctrl + Insert + E
Radio buttons Ctrl + Insert + A

The title of the List of form controls dialog is “Select a Form Field”, where field is an alternative name for control. All of the dialogs contain the following controls:

So to find a form control, open one of these dialogs, select the control, and then press Enter. Note that after pressing Enter, Jaws automatically goes into forms mode. In addition, for some controls, the control is automatically activated. For example, if a button is selected, then it's pressed; if a check box is selected, then its state is toggled.

List of headings

To open a dialog containing a list of headings on the page, press Insert + F6. The controls in the dialog box are:

If a link takes you to a location on the same page, then Jaws describes it as a “this page link”. They are used to aid navigation on long pages. For example, in the introduction section on this page, the text “This page links” is a link to the heading of this section. On the Wikipedia web site, long pages contain a contents section near the top of the page, which contains a list of this page links to the following sections on the page. See, for example, the page on New York City at

Skip/jump links

Some web pages contain one or more links at the start of the page which are there to help the users of screen readers. The most common link is to the main content of the page, so that you don't have to wade through lots of navigation links if all you want to do is read the content. The text for this link is something like “skip navigation”, “skip to main content”, or “skip to main content”. (An alternative to finding the main content is to browse through the headings using the quick navigation keys.)

Sometimes, there's also one or more links to the one or more navigation bars on the page. The text for these links are along the lines of “jump to navigation”, “skip to primary navigation”, or “skip to secondary navigation”.

As a convenient example, the VIP software guides website has a link to the main content.


To find a word or phrase on an HTML page, you can you the Jaws Find dialog, by pressing Ctrl + F. Note that to use this dialog, you must be in virtual cursor mode, rather than forms mode. If you're in forms mode, then Ctrl + F takes you to the browsers find, which doesn't work with Jaws.

The Jaws Find dialog contains the following controls:

So the normal use is just to press Ctrl + F, type in a word or phrase, and then press Enter. To find the next occurrence of the text, press F3.

Landmark regions

Landmark regions are used for navigating the overall structure of a web page.

For sighted users, the overall structure of a web page is normally obvious; for example, they can quickly see which region of the page is the main content, and which region is used for the navigation of the website.

The idea behind landmark regions is to make this overall structure of a page available to users of screen readers as well. The person who writes a web page can assign roles to these regions, for example navigation or search. These regions can then act as landmarks by which the user of a screen reader can navigate.

When you move to a web page which contains landmark regions, then as well as telling you the number of headings and links, Jaws also tells you the number of regions. The keystrokes for navigating using landmark regions are as follows:

A convenient example of a web page which contains landmark regions is the Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.

These are some of the possible roles for regions which can act as landmarks for navigation: