- P. Torpey How to fix the sluggishness problem with JAWS and Reaper September 2021

If you are experiencing sluggish performance with JAWS and Reaper

A number of people have reported experiencing sluggishness when using JAWS with Reaper and some other programs such as Sound Forge. Below is a brief description of the cause of the problem followed by instructions for resolving the problem.

Description of the problem:

Many under the hood changes have been made to Windows in the past few years. This has necessitated a change in how screen readers capture text that is displayed on the screen. To facilitate this transition JAWS currently enables the user to choose between two methods of capturing text written to the screen. When the “Use Accessibility Driver” option is selected in the JAWS Settings Center for the Default configuration, JAWS uses the legacy method of capturing text. This method has become less and less effective as modifications have been made to Windows but remains as an option to ensure compatibility with older programs. When the “Use Accessibility Driver” option is not checked, JAWS uses the new high level hooking or (GDI Hooking)method of capturing text. This will be the approach JAWS will use in the future as support for the legacy approach is dropped.

Currently, even when the “Use Accessibility Driver” option in the JAWS Settings Center is not checked, parts of the legacy driver are still being used. The sluggishness with JAWS and Reaper that people have reported is due to components of the legacy driver that are eating up too many CPU cycles. Thus, the resolution of the sluggishness problem is to either uninstall the legacy driver or disable the legacy driver. Most programs should work fine when using the newer driver and, in fact, will perform better than when the legacy driver is being used. Eventually the legacy driver will be dropped all together.

How to select whether the legacy driver or new GDI Hooking method is used

Currently users have the choice of whether to use the legacy driver or new GDI Hooking method. This option can be changed by following the steps below:

  1. Open the JAWS Settings Center by hitting JAWSKey+F2, arrow down to “settings Center”, and hit enter.
  2. Shift+Tab to the list of configurations.
  3. Hit the Home button or arrow up to the “Default Configuration”.
  4. Tab to the search field and type “Accessibility”.
  5. Tab to find the “Use Accessibility Driver” setting. This should be unchecked to use the new driver. The option will be checked if you are using the legacy driver. Most users should be using the new driver for best results, but the legacy driver is still supported for backwards compatibility.
  6. If the legacy driver has been removed or disabled, you will hear that only the GDI Hooking driver is enabled.

Steps for resolving the problem

There are two ways of fixing the problem. The first method of resolving the problem is to completely uninstalled the Freedom Scientific Video Accessibility driver. This can be done by following the steps below:

  1. Go to the “Add or Remove Programs” dialog in Windows. This can be done by opening the Windows Search field and entering “Add or Remove Programs”.
  2. Tab to the list of programs and arrow down to “Freedom Scientific Video Accessibility”.
  3. Select this item by hitting “enter”.
  4. Tab to the “Uninstall” item, hit “enter” and follow the steps to uninstall the driver.
  5. A reboot of the PC will be required.
  6. If you need to reinstall the driver at some future point, you can run a JAWS repair by running the JAWS installer and following the directions to “repair” the program. Also, if you use this approach it is likely that the driver will be reinstalled whenever JAWS is updated and the process above will have to be repeated.

The alternate method for resolving the problem is to disable the Freedom Scientific Video Accessibility driver rather than uninstalling the driver. Although this method is equally effective, the user may receive and error message about a missing component each time that JAWS restarts. This message can safely be ignored. To disable the Freedom Scientific Video Accessibility driver follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Device manager This can be done by opening the Search field in Windows, typing “Device Manager”,, and then hitting enter.
  2. Arrow down to “Display Adapters” and open it by hitting the right arrow.
  3. Arrow down to “Freedom Scientific Accessibility Display Driver”.
  4. Hit the Applications Key, arrow to “Disable Driver”, and hit “enter”.
  5. This will disable the driver after the computer is rebooted.
  6. If you need to enable the driver in the future, follow the steps above but choose to “enable” the driver”. Following a reboot, the driver will be enabled again.

Additional notes

In summary, users may want to use the first approach of completely removing the accessibility driver rather than disabling it in the Device Manager. This is because with JAWS 2021 and beyond, people won’t get an error message whenever JAWS loads. If one completely removes the accessibility driver it will likely get reinstalled whenever someone installs an update, but 2021 won’t be getting many more updates, and older versions will get even fewer. Either method of fixing the problem will probably work as far back as JAWS 2019, but the further back someone goes, the less refined is the high-level hooking solution, so that will not be as functional for those areas where the legacy driver is needed. So with older versions of JAWS, use your own judgement!