The undersigned hereby publicly petition Freedom Scientific to take action to correct the programming errors, incompatibility issues, and bugs that continue to be replete throughout the JAWS for Windows screen reading program (“JAWS”).
We blind computer users, at work, need to function in programs like Excel, Access, and similar quantitative applications; to operate word processing programs; and to use email, calendaring, and complex Web-based applications. In addition, we rely on computers to pay bills, access medical records, shop, send email, and do all the other myriad tasks needed for independent living. It is critical that our screen access software be reliable, robust, and dependable. JAWS, the most widely used screen access program by a huge margin, is a feature rich and complex program that is our lifeline to all these things. Although JAWS is a great product, too often new features are added that haven’t been fully vetted, new bugs are introduced, and old bugs go unfixed.
We, the undersigned, have had enough. There is no excuse for known programming errors to continue version after version. There is no excuse for the seemingly haphazard way new features are too often introduced, breaking functionality that has been stable for years and thereby depriving customers of crucial access to the applications referenced above (among others).
JAWS is expensive. Many, if not most, of those signing this petition have paid thousands of dollars, in license fees and/or software maintenance agreement ("SMA”) charges for JAWS. This software is simply too important and too expensive for such glaring problems to appear so frequently and then to persist for so long.
Freedom Scientific, please listen! We do not want new features as much as we need a stable product that works reliably. It is the intention of the undersigned that you, Freedom Scientific, fully comprehend and appreciate the frustration of your customers.
We have invested much, both in terms of financial resources and hours in learning, to use your product. In return, Freedom Scientific must acknowledge the existence of these longstanding problems and commit in writing to an overhaul of JAWS to eliminate persistent and recurring bugs. If not, the undersigned will take appropriate measures, such as withholding SMA purchases, migrating to other applications, eschewing upgrades, and lobbying agencies to do likewise. Freedom Scientific has been able to ignore complaints about these bugs from individuals, even though they are frequently reported on listservs, but the cumulative impact on Freedom Scientific of concerted action by the undersigned will be significant. Continuing to spend our money on yet another upgrade that does not fix what’s broken is abhorrent to us. (We encourage all signers to make note of any monetary commitment such as not purchasing new SMA in the comments field with your signature.)
As technical support issues are escalated, we are told that the problems are reported to the developers. We customers, however, have come to believe that there is a fundamental disconnect between "escalation" in technical support and program development. Once it becomes apparent that technical support cannot help and that there is a definite programming error, it appears to us that the issue floats away into that Never-Never land beyond the sea that separates technical support from program development.
It is our hope, by circulating this petition through the Internet, that you will take notice, acknowledge the problems, and take swift, decisive, and effective measures.
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