Herbi Web Keys
The Herbi Web Keys program is the result of an exploration into how someone with mobility challenges and who uses the Window-Eyes screen reader, might be able to browse the web with only a few key presses.
New for Version 1.1 - The program now works with the Narrator Screen Reader which is included with Windows 8 and 8.1. A demonstration of this can be found at Herbi Web Keys with Narrator.
Using Herbi Web Keys
A demonstration video of Herbi Web Keys demonstration with the Window-Eyes screen reader.
When your first use the Herbi Web Keys program, use the Options button to choose which screen reader you use.
The Herbi Web Keys program aims to reduce the amount of physical movement that's required to browse the web with Internet Explorer, while using the Window-Eyes screen reader. All the keys used are found on the Number Pad on the keyboard, and so your hand doesn't need to move far.
Before using Herbi Web Keys, you will need to have installed the Window-Eyes screen reader on your Windows PC. The screen reader needs to be in Browse Mode, such that pressing the keys 'l', 'h' and 'p' will have details related to links, headings and paragraphs on the web page spoken.
To use the Herbi Web Keys program, when Window-Eyes is running on your PC, start Herbi Web Keys from the shortcut on your desktop. (See the section "Installing Herbi Web Keys on your computer" below.) Clicking with a mouse on the Herbi Web Keys window that appears, (shown above), does nothing. Rather, to use the program, press keys on your keyboard's Number Pad.
To begin with, press any keys that are not on the top row of keys on the Number Pad. When you press a key, you will hear a description of what the key can do, but no other action is taken. This means you can get familiar with the various keys before browsing the web. If a key on the Number Pad is not used by the Herbi Web Keys program, then you will hear "No action".
Once you're familiar with the keys, you can press the key that's third from the left on the top row. This will turn the key description off, such that when you then press one of the other keys, some action will be taken. You can turn the key description on or off at any time.
The only other key of interest on the top row is the key that's second from the left. This effectively turns the program "on" or "off". While the program is "on", it will react to certain key presses. If you turn the program "off", then all key presses are unaffected by Herbi Web Keys.
Moving to a web page
The second row of keys are used to get to a web page. If any of these keys are pressed and Internet Explorer is not running, or it is running but hidden behind some other window, Herbi Web Keys will take action to have Internet Explorer shown.
The third key from the left on the second row is pressed to invoke your list of favorite web pages. If you repeatedly press this key, the program moves through your list of favorites. Press the key until the name of the web page you'd like to visit is spoken. One you've reached that entry in your list, press the Enter key. The Enter key is at the bottom right corner of the Number Pad. If after invoking the list of favorites you decide that you don't want to select an entry from the list, press the key that's first or second from the left on the second row. That will dismiss the list of favorites.
After moving to a web page, you can press the first key on the second row to move back to the previous web page.
Moving around a web page
To move through links on the page, repeatedly press the left-most button on the third row. Once you've found a link that you're interested in, press the Enter key at the bottom right corner of the Number Pad to invoke the link.
To move through headings on a page, repeatedly press the key that's second from the left on the third row. To move through paragraphs, repeatedly press the key that's third from the left on the third row. If after pressing any of the keys on the third row you'd like to hear all content on the page from that point forward, press the key that's second from the left on the fourth row.
To move back to the top of the page that you're already at, press the key that's second from the left on the second row.
By using the eight keys described above, it's possible to browse the web with little hand movement. If at any point you'd like the screen reader to be quiet, press the key at the bottom left of the Number Pad.
Installing Herbi Web Keys on your computer
To install the Herbi Web Keys program, click Install Herbi Web Keys. After clicking on this link, press the "Run" buttons on the first window that appears, and then click the "Next" buttons to continue the installation. Once you've clicked "Close" on the last window to appear, the installation is finished.
You can then run the Herbi Web Keys program from the desktop shortcut that looks like this:
Once you've finished with the Herbi Web Keys program you can remove it from your computer by going to the Control Panel's Add or Remove Programs, and removing "Herbi Web Keys".
Background and technical details
You can find some (very) technical details on how this app works at Technical Details.
I built the Herbi Web Keys program after spending time working with a person who's blind and has MND/ALS, as he browsed the web and worked on his e-mail. I'm very grateful to him for trying out the Herbi Web Keys program. If you also know of someone who uses the Windows-Eyes screen reader and who might find the program useful, let me know at Barker@Herbi.org. Based on your feedback I can try to make whatever changes necessary to make the program more useful for in practice. I next plan to explore how the program can be controlled with a switch device.