I have listened to JAWS the screen-reader for sixteen years, way back to version 3.0. With each upgrade (they’re up to #17 now) I immediately import Dictionary Manager. Dictionary Manager gives me power to change how words are pronounced. I can make sure that retinitis pigmentosa sounds like ret in I tus pig men toe suh, so I don’t get confused about which disease is messing with my eyesight.
Nowhere is pronunciation control more crucial than with my last name. For six decades, from grade school classrooms to two-star restaurants, I’ve been called Mr. Flodden. Flodden is not my last name. It sounds undefined, like a name written in water. With JAWS Dictionary Manager, I become who I really am, Mr. Flow dean. With Dictionary Manager, I have a greater sense of who I am.
People deserve to have their names pronounced correctly. I think of my friend and fellow blogger, Beth Finke, from whose last name JAWS omits the long e sound. With Dictionary Manager, Beth’s character is restored. Then there’s our Canadian friend, blogging under the moniker, blindbeader. For months, I misheard this to mean someone who is beating blindness, like the Edmonton Oilers beat the Calgary Flames.
Which leads me to the mysterious Donna Tripley, from whom I receive emails. I am not acquainted with Donna Tripley and hearing her name in my inbox reinforces my concern that my personal information is being sold to mass marketers. But Donna’s not trying to sell me anything, so what’s her game? JAWS helps me find out. When I press the Insert key and the #5 key twice, JAWS reads her name one letter at a time: D O N O T R E P L Y. DO NOT REPLY. Oh, Donna, you’re breaking my heart.