Using the JAWS Scripts For Youtube
Doug Lee
Last Revised June, 2019

This guide provides tips for using these scripts with Youtube and Youtube Music, collectively referred to as Youtube except where differences must be noted. When the scripts are installed and Youtube is open and focused in a supported browser, this document can be opened via a double press of JAWSKey+F1 (or Insert+F1).

Note that Youtube provides many keystrokes that do not require scripts, though they usually do require forms mode, pass-key-through, or disabling of the virtual cursor. These scripts simplify using some native commands while providing a few other shortcuts not provided by Youtube itself.

Table of Contents

System Requirements For JAWS Users

These scripts require the following for correct operation with the Youtube web site:

Script Installation Instructions

To install these scripts on a new system:

  1. Load JAWS if this has not already been done. This will require administrative privileges on the computer.
  2. Run JAWS as the user for whom the scripts are to be installed. This and the following steps must be performed for each user of the computer who will be using JAWS with these scripts.
  3. Download and run, or run directly, the installer for these scripts; and follow the on-screen directions. Be sure to install the scripts in the currently running JAWS version if a JAWS version list is presented.
  4. To verify successful installation, type Ins+Q while Youtube is in focus in a supported browser. Part of the JAWS spoken response should be a revision number. If you do not hear a revision number, the scripts are not correctly loaded.

Using Youtube With JAWS and the Scripts

Many commands below are key sequences rather than key combinations. All of these sequences begin with a "command" key, by default the left bracket ([). This avoids collisions between script commands and native browser keystrokes. Users can change the prefix key if necessary by typing [ followed by JAWSKey+C or Ins+C. The change will survive across script and JAWS updates.

The scripts provide the following key sequences:

[ S
Skip Ad. If a video ad is playing and a Skip button is present, this command will click it to make Youtube start playing the actual video requested.
[ Space
Press the Play/Pause button if present. This works in both virtual cursor mode and forms mode.
[ T
Say Time. This command will speak the current time position in the playing video as well as the video's length. As of February, 2019, this command also works on Youtube live streams. If a video ad is playing, the times will relate to the ad rather than to the requested video. Note: The current time position is not always kept up to date by Youtube itself but will be updated if the video is paused and restarted or the play position is changed by the user. Pausing and restarting the video will force such an update.
[ N and [ P
Move to the next or previous page or video. This should work in playlists and wherever a Next and Previous button can be found. As of May, 2019, these commands work in Youtube Music to move among songs in the active queue. Note that the Previous button in a playlist or queue may restart the current video rather than moving to the previous video unless the video is near the beginning of its playback. Repeat the command to go to the previous video in this case.
[ m
Mute or unmute the current video. See also the m native Youtube command below.
[ V
Move focus to the volume slider for the currently playing video. This also switches JAWS into forms mode and causes a number of native Youtube keystrokes to become usable.
[ c
Go to the Youtube channel that owns the current video. This command only works on a video page and does not work for Youtube Music.
Note that some of the above commands, before executing, will attempt to press the "Hide Cards" button if present on screen, so that controls required by the script commands become available for action. If this button is found and pressed, JAWS will say "Hiding cards" before completing the command.

The following Youtube-native keystrokes work as indicated when JAWS is in forms mode or if the keystrokes are passed through JAWS directly to Youtube, such as with the JAWS "pass next key through" command, Ins+3. As noted in the below list, some Youtube keystrokes require focus to be on the video's volume slider. This list applies at least to the HTML 5 video player and possibly also to the Flash player.

Space (slider focus required) or K
Pause, resume, or play the current video.
j or l
Rewind or fast-forward the video by a few seconds. These commands work differently in Youtube Music as of this writing.
Digits 1 through 9 and 0 (slider focus required)
Jump to a percentage through the video. 0 jumps to the beginning, 1 to 10% through, 2 to 20% through, etc., and 9 to 90% through. At this writing, Youtube Music does not support these keystrokes.
, (comma) or . (period)
Slow down or speed up the video without changing its pitch. This amounts to simple compression or expansion of the audio and video. Slowing down far enough may stop playback. At this writing, Youtube Music does not support these keystrokes.
Up or Down arrows (slider focus required)
Turn up or down the volume of the video by increments of 5%. Right and Left arrows, respectively, perform the same actions and also require focus to be on the volume slider. The volume usually defaults to 100%.
M
Mute or unmute the sound of the video. Beware that the occasional video defaults to muted on starting, though this seems rare.
Home (slider focus required)
Mute the audio. This is not a toggle like m.
End (slider focus required)
Unmute the audio and move the volume to 100%. This is not a toggle like m.
F
Toggle between full screen and normal video size.
/ (slash)
Move focus to the Youtube search box.
' (apostrophe)
Pop open and move focus to the Find bar for about four seconds. This keystroke does not apply for Youtube Music as of this writing.
For convenience, the scripts will prevent JAWS from speaking typed characters in forms mode when focus is on a slider, so that JAWS speech will not disrupt a playing video in response to native Youtube keystrokes.

Special Script Support For Live Stream Text Chatting

The scripts include a system for handling text chatting during a live stream: Type the prefix key, the left bracket ([) by default, then type as many of the following keys as desired to navigate among chat messages. Press Esc to exit the chat review mode when done. The navigation keys comprise the right-hand portion of the home row on a standard English US QWERTY keyboard: h goes to and reads the first message, j the previous from current position, l the next from current position, and the semicolon (;) the last message available. k repeats the last-read message.

Note that the above features also work in a stream playback after the stream has ended; however, observe the following caveats:

Known Issues

Issues shown in this section may be fixed in future script revisions but are not addressed as of this writing.

Sometimes, [ V may announce the volume slider incorrectly. In this script author's experience, this only occurs after a great number of videos, such as 50, have been played without a browser restart.

Why Youtube Scripts?

As mentioned earlier, Youtube provides many keystrokes natively. However, most are blocked by JAWS' virtual mode (true for other screen readers as well), making them inconvenient to use in some situations. I wrote these scripts for at least the following reasons, not necessarily in order of precedence:

Revision History

Here is the revision history of these scripts, most recent revision first:

Revision 74, released June 9, 2019
This revision just updates the scripts' handling of the Skip Ad command sequence, [ s, to work again after a recent Youtube update in how the Skip Ad button is displayed.
Revision 70, released May 24, 2019
In this revision, I had to replace the live stream chat navigation system with key sequences instead of key combinations. The primary reason was that the Alt+Left keystroke broke the standard browser keystroke for pressing the Back button. Alt+Enter also had issues though, and Alt+Right broke the Forward button command (though I suspect that one is in less common use). Alt with Up and Down are standard JAWS commands, and similar problems exist for arrows with any other combination of Alt, Shift, and Ctrl. See the Special Script Support For Live Stream Text Chatting section of this document for details on the updated chat navigation system.
Revision 68, released May 18, 2019
Revision 51, released February 24, 2019
Revision 41, released September 22, 2018
Fixed the method of activating the owning channel page for the [ c command sequence so it works even if the link is not visible or is only partly displayed.
Revision 40, released September 20, 2018
Revision 36, released August 13, 2018
Revision 35, released July 21, 2018
Revision 30, released September 2, 2017
Revision 29, released August 31, 2017
Revision 25, released March 3, 2017
Revision 17, released July 24, 2016
This is the first release of these scripts, including commands for the following: