[Athen] JAWS with ZoomText in Vista

Brian Richwine blrichwine at gmail.com
Mon Jul 28 09:20:59 PDT 2008

Hello Phillip,

Here at IU, we have network versions of JAWS Professional Version 9.0.2169
and ZoomText Version 9.14 (Level 2) running on the Vista build in our
student computing labs.

We don't have any problems with running them both at the same time on Vista
(we are using Vista Enterprise). We've played around with running JAWS,
ZoomText, and Kurzweil 3000 in all possible combinations and in general
never experienced any crashes or significant problems other than the general
confusion of having two or more programs talking to you at once. The one
exception is when both JAWS and ZoomText are running at the same time
(starting order doesn't matter), and then JAWS is closed it does causes
Vista to crash / generate a blank blue screen. Running both JAWS and
ZoomText works fine, though, as long as ZoomText is closed before closing
JAWS. We don't see it as much of an issue as few of our users use both
products at once. If JAWS crashes, it has not been seen to take ZoomText or
the system down with it.

We experimented briefly with MAGic, due to some difficulties we were having
initially getting ZoomText's unsigned mirror driver to install as a fully
automatic (non-interactive) silent install (it installs fine if installed
manually). If an attempt is made to run both MAGic and ZoomText at the same
time (silly I know), a blue screen of death with instantly occur. We didn't
have any problems with having JAWS, MAGic, and ZoomText all installed at
once as long as ZoomText and MAGic were not launched at the same time. In
our testing, we noticed that both MAGic and ZoomText would occasionally seem
to freeze up briefly (for 1-5 seconds) when panning the screen on machines
that had only 1GB of RAM in them. Both appear to work fine on worstations
that have 2GB of RAM installed on them.

A downside of Vista, is that both ZoomText and MAGic had trouble performing
text smoothing on text chararcters that appear in certain parts of the start
menu and other program menus that Vista presents even if the font smoothing
display setting is turned off. Another downside seems to be that in Vista,
both MAGic and ZoomText seem to do a less than stelallar job of tracking the
input focus and panning the screen accordingly. Even when exiting either
ZoomText or MAGic they would frequently not pan the display over to their
"Do you really want to close..." dialog boxes. This can make it rather
confusing to new and sometimes experienced users alike!

After we figured out how to sign ZoomText's mirrored display driver with one
of our own software publishing/signing certificates as sort of outlined in
the Microsoft document "Step-By-Step Guide to Device Driver Signing and
Staging", we were able to get it to install automatically and didn't pursue
using MAGic as our low vision clients prefer ZoomText.

The JAWS silent installer somehow manages to get its mirrored display driver
to install on Vista even though it is marked as unsigned, but the Freedom
Scientific Braille display drivers fail to install as they also are
unsigned. We have not yet persued signing their Braille display drivers.
NOTE: This is NOT a problem if you are manually installng JAWS. The lack of
Braille display drivers only occurs on unattended slient installs that run
in a non-interactive mode (scheduled tasks, deployed through group policy,

The mirrored display drivers seem more stable than their driver chaining
ancestors. We were able to both install and uninstall in any order any of
JAWS, MAGic, and ZoomText without having any effect on the functionality of
the others or the stablilty of the system. Also, we could upgrade/downgrade
the video display drivers without needing reinstall or run the mirror
display applications as admin -- this is a great advance as it makes
maintaining the machines much much easier!

Unlike the display driver chaining model, mirrored display drivers sit in
parallel with the display driver that is running the physical graphics card
/ display. The Graphics Device Interface layer of the Vista OS sends
parallel copies of drawing operations to the physical display drivers as
well as any mirrored display drivers that are operating. This allows screen
reading applications to use or ignore those drawing operations as they see
fit inorder to develop their own model of the information being presented on
the screen. Since they all operate in parallel, a mirrored display driver
can not affect what appears on the real display or any of the other mirrored
display drivers. On some XP builds, we would get random blue screens /
crashes on machines that had ZoomText installed (even when it wasn't
operational) despite working with AI Squared's technical support folks we
could never get a fix for that, so ZoomText was taken off of those machines.
Hopefully, the mirrored display drivers will continue to prove to be more
stable as our experience so far has convinced the teams responsible for the
builds to all the programs to be installed everywhere once again.

Brian Richwine


*Brian Richwine*

*Adaptive Technology Support Specialist*

*Adaptive Technology Center*

*Indiana University - Bloomington/Indianapolis*


*(812) 856-4112*


-----Original Message-----
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 14:21:01 -0700
From: "White, Phillip B." <pwhite3 at exchange.calstatela.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Jaws with Zoomtext in Vista
To: "Access Technologists in Higher Education Network"
<athen at athenpro.org>
249223C7F58DC140A96F27C89DBAF12F02BE86D3 at santafe7.academic.ad.calstatela.edu


Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

I have heard that there is a problem running both Zoomtext and Jaws in
Vista. Anyone know about this? I think it had something to do with
video chaining -- can anyone explain that, and provide info based on
their experience?

Phillip White
Adaptive Technology Coordinator
Cal State University Los Angeles


Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 18:43:25 -0400
From: "Al Puzzuoli" <alpuzz at msu.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Jaws with Zoomtext in Vista
To: "Access Technologists in Higher Education Network"
<athen at athenpro.org>
Message-ID: <AC43B3FAA0B1F34FAB48EFD89BEC140427C184 at FS1.rcpd.msu.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Hi Phillip,

We have ZoomText 9.1 and Jaws 9.0 installed on Windows Vista Business.
That image is deployed across 55 computers throughout our office. In my
experience, the two programs can coexist just fine on the same machine,
so long as you don't try to run them simultaneously. If you want to see
a rather spectacular system crash: launch ZoomText, launch Jaws, and
then exit Jaws.

Vista no longer utilizes video chaining as it was implemented in XP.
Now, there's the "Mirror driver", which many screen readers utilize in
order to access information being displayed. However, the Mirror driver
apparently doesn't support magnification, so ZoomText is undoubtedly
using an alternate API I'm not familiar with.

In short though, if you just want the two programs to be installed on
the same machine, you're fine; but, if you were hoping to run them
simultaneously, you might want to consider another solution such as

Al Puzzuoli

Michigan State University

Information Technologist

Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities

120 Bessey Hall East Lansing, MI 48824-1033

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