Getting JAWS 6.1 to recognize "exotic" Unicode symbols


Update on JAWS 13

A revised post with complete instructions for JAWS 13 is now available on this blog.

Original Article

Although Unicode is a great standard, it isn't always interpreted accurately on screen readers (e.g. Phonetic symbols /sɪmbl̩z/ are rendered as "?" or skipped altogether)

This article from a Caroll Tech accessibility blog explains how users of JAWS 6.1+ can tweak their symbol (.sbl) files so that certain code points are pronounced accurately. For instance, you could program /ŋ/ (U+014B) to be pronounced as "engma" (FYI - /ŋ/ is the "ng" sound in "sing, song").

Carroll Tech provides a sample .sbl list for math at

For other Unicode characters, tables can be found at:

Postscript: .sbl file for Phonetics

An .sbl file is available for Phonetic characters at

Other files may also be available online via a Google search.

About The Blog

I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage ( for a profile.


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