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In-Process 26th October 2018

Ven, 26/10/2018 - 09:06

Wow, the year is flying by! Last time In-Process came out, we were in the midst of a flurry of releases. We apologise for the extra updates, but think NVDA 2018.3.2 is our best yet! NVDA 2018.3.2 fixes several crashes which didn’t affect everyone but were severe for those affected.

NVDA 2018.3.2

So, after all the dust clears, what’s new? Firstly, a heap of compatibility improvements! We added support for a couple of new Braille displays, and no less than FIVE new Braille tables. Many Braille displays are now able to be auto-detected when starting NVDA. Not all displays can be auto-detected, but the list will keep growing.

We’ve continued to build on support for new and updated Windows 10 features such as the Emoji panel. You can bring up the Emoji panel in Windows 10 by pressing either WINDOWS+; or WINDOWS+. (that is, WINDOWS and SEMI-COLON or WINDOWS and FULL STOP).

There’s plenty more new features and updates in the latest version. If you haven’t already, be sure to check them out on the NVDA 2018.3 What’s New page.

Predictive Text

Predictive text is another Windows 10 feature which has been around for a couple of updates. I only encountered it recently, so I thought I’d share it here. Smartphone keyboards offer to complete the word you are typing based on what you’ve typed so far. You can do the same thing in Windows 10 running the 1803 update (April 2018) or later. To enable the feature:

  1. Search for “Show text suggestions as I type” in the start menu.
  2. Press ENTER to open the “Typing” settings screen. The first options on the screen relate to the software keyboard. That on-screen keyboard is used when running Windows 10 on a tablet or in tablet mode.
  3. Press TAB to move past the software keyboard. TAB past the “AI Grouping, Typing insights” option to “Show text suggestions as I type”.
  4. Press SPACEBAR to enable this option.

With predictive text enabled, words appear above the caret when you are typing. Type at least one letter of a word and instead of reporting only the letter, NVDA reads a whole suggested word. To access suggestions, press the UP ARROW to move to the first suggestion. From there, use the RIGHT or LEFT Arrows to move between the three suggestions. Press ENTER on any of the words to accept it. or ESCAPE to close the suggestions without accepting any suggestions.

This feature works in many places including Word, Notepad, and Firefox. There are some places it doesn’t work. I found suggestions were not offered in NotePad++, for instance.

White Cane Day support

The 12th of October was White Cane Day. This day promotes awareness of blindness. Advancements in access for blind people all over the world are also celebrated. On the 12th, one of our wonderful supporters ran a charity live stream gaming session on Twitch. It was a great chance to spread the good word about NVDA, and raise some donations for NV Access. We are very grateful to “Glitched Vision” for his initiative and generosity. He moderates a community of disabled streamers. Some of the gamers are blind or vision impaired, and some have other disabilities. If you’re a gamer, check out Glitched Vision on Twitch and Twitter!

Thank-you very much to all those who participated and donated through the live stream event!

Customising NVDA profiles

Someone asked for help changing how fast NVDA reads when you have it read from the current point onwards. We call this command “Say All” and you invoke it by pressing NVDA+down arrow or NVDA+a. Say All uses its own configuration profile. This means you can have it read differently to when you are navigating around a document with the arrows. You can even have it use a different synthesizer if you want.

To customise how Say All reads:

  1. Press NVDA+control+p to open the configuration profiles dialog (or press NVDA+n, then C).
  2. Press down arrow to find the profile called “Say All”.
  3. Tab once to “Manual activate” and press enter. The profile is loaded, and the dialog closes. NVDA is now using the Say All profile.
  4. Make any changes you like. Adjust the speed, change the synthesizer or the punctuation level. These are done as you would normally via the settings screens or keystrokes. Any changes affect the Say All profile because that is what is loaded currently.
  5. Open the configuration profiles dialog again (NVDA+control+p or NVDA+n then c).
  6. Press TAB once to the “Manual deactivate” button and press enter to deactivate the profile. NVDA returns to the normal profile and will use the settings you just adjusted when you use Say all.

You can use the same steps to edit any other profiles. You can also create profiles which are triggered when you load certain applications. To create a profile, first, start the program you want to use it with. Next, open the configuration profiles dialog. Activate the “New” button to create a new profile. On the screen which opens, TAB to “Use this profile for”, then right arrow to “Current application (name)”. Press ENTER to create the profile and return to the program. While the program has focus, any changes you make to NVDA’s settings are saved in that profile.

Some settings, such as those on the “General” page which affect the whole program, can’t be saved in a profile.

You can read more about custom profiles in the NVDA User Guide

For more in-depth information and step-by-step activities, be sure to check out our “Basic Training for NVDA” material, available in electronic text, hardcopy Braille and audio from The NV Access Shop What programs do you have customised profiles setup for?

Finally today, a quick question for anyone who can spare 30 seconds to give us some feedback: Have there been times when NVDA announcing ‘clickable’ on the web has been useful to you? We do not need to hear negative responces to this as we well know a lot of people hate this feature already. For instance, have their been times where ‘clickable’ on an inaccessible website has communicated to you that you should activate some particular text to do an action?

To share your thoughts, please Email us and let us know your experience!

That’s all for this time around. Enjoy setting up your own configuration profiles. Also, let us know if you use predictive text in Windows 10.

In-Process 25 September 2018

Mar, 25/09/2018 - 13:09

What a busy couple of weeks! As promised, since our last edition, NVDA 2018.3 did indeed come out. Not only that, but NVDA 2018.3.1 hot on its heels. The big news to start though, is the answer to the question on everyone’s lips: NVDA Remote and NVDA 2018.3.1? So, let’s address that first (with its own heading and everything):

NVDA Remote and NVDA 2018.3.1

First, I’ll give a bit of background for those interested. If that’s TL;DR, then jump straight down to the NVDA Remote update below.

Ok, thanks for sticking around! Now, excuse me while I get technical for just a paragraph dons a lab coat, Bill Nye style. As you likely know, “Python” is the programming language that most of NVDA is written in. wxPython is the user interface toolkit that we use with Python. Essentially, it’s what gives NVDA things like a menu, dialog boxes and buttons. It means we don’t need to reinvent the wheel by defining what a “button” is and how it appears from scratch. We then use Python to tell the computer what to do when a user presses that button. With NVDA 2018.3, we moved to a newer version of wxPython, 4.0.3. While that enables us to do lots of new, improved things under the hood, it meant that older add-ons needed to be updated to work with the newer version of wxPython.

The NVDA Remote team tested an early beta of NVDA using wxPython 4.0.3, and implemented a fix for NVDA Remote well before NVDA 2018.3 was released. They made the code available as their “master” branch. While others could try it, they would initially have to build it themselves. They promised that they would package and release the new version as soon as NVDA 2018.3 came out. They did not want to release before then, because the update was not backwards compatible (so, it wouldn’t work with NVDA 2018.2.1).

NVDA Remote update

As the NVDA Remote team have not released a new version, we are very grateful to reliable, long-term contributor Joseph Lee. Joseph has kindly packaged and made the update available for the community. Download the NVDARemote update from Joseph Lee’ site. Thank-you Joseph!

This version works with NVDA 2018.3.1, so we do recommend updating both NVDA and NVDA Remote to the latest versions.

NVDA 2018.3.1

NVDA 2018.3 dropped on September 17 with all the new features we’d promised. We are very thankful to our incredibly helpful Alpha, Beta and “Release Candidate” testers who picked up numerous bugs that were able to be addressed before launch. Unfortunately, one slipped through, which caused the 32-bit version of Firefox to crash (users of the 64-bit version weren’t affected).

We released NVDA 2018.3.1 on September 19, which addresses that crash. We would encourage all users to upgrade to that version, particularly now that there is Joseph’s fix for NVDA Remote.

We are also hoping to encourage even more users to try out the release candidate builds in future. So, please look out for those later in the year, shortly before the next version of NVDA is released.

Finally, if you haven’t yet updated to NVDA 2018.3.1, one last plug for the new features to entice you. Highlights of this release include automatic detection of many Braille displays, support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Emoji input panel, and many other bug fixes. You can download NVDA from the usual place at https://www.nvaccess.org/download/

For those interested, here is a link to the complete and unabridged version of What’s new in NVDA 2018.3.1.

That’s all for this edition. Until next time, do let us know on Twitter what your favourite new feature of 2018.3 is!

Announcing the Release of NvDA 2018.3

Mar, 18/09/2018 - 07:35

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2018.3 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, has now been released.

Highlights of this release include automatic detection of many Braille displays, support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Emoji input panel, and many other bug fixes.

A note about the NVDARemote add-on: NVDA 2018.3 breaks compatibility with NVDARemote 2.1 due to a necessary upgrade of WXPython (our Graphical User Interface library). We do expect however that a new version of NVDARemote compatible with NVDA 2018.3 will be released in the coming days. If you depend on NVDARemote, we would suggest you do not upgrade to NVDA 2018.3 until the new version of NVDARemote has been released. We will keep this post up to date with the latest information as it comes to hand.

Please consider helping NV Access to continue this important work by becoming a monthly donor when downloading NVDA.

To download NVDA, please visit our Download page.

To find out what’s new in this release, please read What’s new in NVDA 2018.3.

NVDA 2018.3rc3 Released

Ven, 14/09/2018 - 03:09

NV Access has just released NVDA 2018.3rc3. This is a Release Candidate, meaning that unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2018.3 release.

Changes from rc1:

  • Fixed bug stopping the NVDA desktop shortcut from being created on German systems.
  • NVDA no longer completely fails to interact with iTunes 12.9.

Highlights of this release include automatic detection of many Braille displays, support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Imoji input panel, and many other bug fixes.

A reminder about add-ons: Changes in NVDA 2018.3 causes the NvDARemote add-on not to run correctly. We are working closely with the add-on authors and they have assured us that a new version of the add-on will be released as soon as the official NVDA 2018.3 becomes available.

When updating NVDA, we always recommend you close all web browsers and other applications before proceeding with the update. NVDA must update files that are currently in use, and this could temporarily make your system unstable.

In-Process 11th September 2018

Mar, 11/09/2018 - 03:10

The big news this week, hot off the press, is that we released NVDA 2018.3rc1 yesterday!

NVDA 2018.3rc1

Highlights of this release include automatic detection of many Braille displays, support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Emoji input panel, and many other bug fixes.

Since I tend to get asked “XYZ doesn’t work, can you please fix it?” as often as “Can you please add new feature ABC?”, here are a few things we’ve fixed:

  • We’ve updated eSpeak NG to 1.49.3dev commit 910f4c2. Updating eSpeak NG has had mixed success in recent versions. Some issues have been fixed, and others introduced. So, eSpeak fans, please do try the RC and let us know what you think.

  • Updated Liblouis Braille Translator to version 3.6.0. Among other things, there are fixes for Chinese, Czech and Hebrew languages. See LibLouis’ what’s new for all the info on what they’ve updated. We introduced the previous version, 3.5.0 in NVDA 2018.2.

  • NVDA should only ask about sending usage statistics once now

  • Notifications are supported in Zoom, including mute / unmute status and messages.

  • NVDA reads more labels on the web, particularly in Chrome, but also in lists on other browsers too.

  • Braille improvements in Microsoft Word.

Read the full What’s new for NVDA 2018.3rc1 to find out what has been added, changed, fixed and broken* in NVDA 2018.3rc1.

As with any version, you can also find “What’s new” in NVDA’s Help menu.

*The what’s broken section may be missing from the release notes. Please help us out by letting us know what isn’t working? grin

Like most programs, we recommend closing all other programs, including browsers, when updating. The reason is that updates need to replace files. If those files are currently in use, it can make your system unstable. We also recommend restarting your system after updating, for the same reason. After updating NVDA, users occasionally report odd things not working or misbehaving. These invariably resolve themselves after rebooting and aren’t encountered again.

NVDA user group hits a thousand

Another big milestone this week is that the NVDA user group on groups.io has passed 1,000 members. Don’t worry, there is no test to remember everyone’s name! Not everyone is active, and the group is still a friendly and welcoming place. The group still averages around 1,500 posts a month. If that seems too much, you can also subscribe for a “Digest”. A digest is only one email every now and then with all the subject titles. Reading the digest, you have even more control over what you want to read more about.

Office 365 subscription or Office 2016 one-time purchase?

People ask whether it is worth buying the subscription Office 365, or whether they are better off buying Office 2016 as a one-time purchase.

The advantages of a one-time purchase are that it is an up-front cost with no more to pay. Once you’ve bought it, you can use it indefinitely on that computer. Plus, once you are familiar with how it works, it won’t change.

An Office 365 subscription also has advantages. Firstly, it is cheaper up-front. It includes Access and Publisher as well as OneDrive space and Skype credit. Office gets updated regularly, with new features and bugs fixed. Used on more than one PC, the “Home” license is also cheaper than buying two copies of Office home and student every three years.

One example of a feature which has evolved, which caught my attention recently is Spell Check in Word. In Office 2013, and continuing in Office 2016, spell check moved from a dialog box to a task pane. One feature which didn’t come across to the task pane was the edit box with the preview of text on either side of the error. The idea likely was that since the task pane pops in from the side, the view of the document itself jumped to the error and sighted users could read that. It is still possible with NVDA if you press escape or control+f6 to jump back to the document, the focus is on the error. But it still seemed a bit disjointed. Also reading the misspelt word itself involved using object navigation. Object navigation is one of NVDA’s most powerful features, but one which not everyone is comfortable with.

Since then, the spell check feature has evolved. Now, in Office 365, when you press F7, the task pane still opens, but NVDA reads the misspelt word, then spells it. Then, it reads the original sentence containing the word. To read the word again, press Numpad 5 in Desktop keyboard layout, or NVDA+control+. In laptop keyboard layout. To spell the word again, press the keystroke twice quickly. To read the sentence again, press NVDA+up arrow or NVDA+l.

Press TAB to move to the suggestions and NVDA not only reads out each word while moving through the list but gives the meaning of the word as well. Previously, getting to the definition again involved using object navigation.

Not everything has been fixed. For instance, the alt+letter shortcut keys still don’t work. However, from most places in the task pane, you can press the letter by itself to perform a function. For instance, I to ignore once, or A to add to the dictionary.

So, the choice is yours. Either way, NVDA will continue to support Office versions as far back as we can, at least as long as Microsoft does. Rest assured we are keeping abreast of improvements as they come out. We will ensure that NVDA remains the screen reader of choice for those on the cutting edge of Windows and Office.

By the time you next read In-Process, NVDA 2018.3 should be out, and we’ll definitely have more to say on that then!

NVDA 2018.3rc1 Released

Lun, 10/09/2018 - 08:03

NV Access has just released NVDA 2018.3rc1. This is a Release Candidate, meaning that unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2018.3 release.

Highlights of this release include automatic detection of many Braille displays, support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Imoji input panel, and many other bug fixes.

Changes from beta4:

  • Translation updates

A note about add-ons: Changes in NVDA 2018.3 causes the NvDARemote add-on not to run correctly. We are working closely with the add-on authors and they have assured us that a new version of the add-on will be released as soon as the official NVDA 2018.3 becomes available.

When updating NVDA, we always recommend you close all web browsers and other applications before proceeding with the update. NVDA must update files that are currently in use, and this could temporarily make your system unstable.

In-Process 29th August 2018

Mer, 29/08/2018 - 06:45

It’s been a few weeks since the last edition, but Australia has a new Prime Minister, so it is time for another In-Process. Rest assured, we’ve all been busy doing more work than our politicians! One of the biggest things we’re working on, of course, is the next version of NVDA. That’s right, NVDA 2018.3 is fast approaching! Last Friday we entered our “translation freeze” period. Translation freeze gives our wonderful translators two weeks to update for NVDA 2018.3. No new features are being accepted for inclusion in 2018.3 from this point. The good news from that is that if you are keen to get an early view of what’s coming up, you can download the beta version.

Highlights of NVDA 2018.3 beta 3 include: – Automatic detection of many Braille displays, – Support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Emoji input panel – Many other bug fixes.

If you do try out the beta version, we would encourage feedback, particularly on any problems you run into. Please do try to note whether something is a new issue or if it is an existing issue. If an existing problem is reported as new in the beta, it can cause us to look in the wrong place for the problem.

We encourage you to post any issues you encounter on GitHub. If you aren’t comfortable doing that, do please still report your findings either in the User Group, or to us by email.

If you missed the previous links, you can Read the release notes for the beta here.

NVDA 2018.3 will be the first release using our new release process. We covered the changes to the release process in the 4th July edition of In-Process. You can read the full release process here.

2018.3 beta 3 isn’t the only big news we have this week. NV Access are very excited to welcome to the helm our new CEO, Danika Bakalich. As many know, NV Access have been keen to increase our in-house development resources. More development time means issues can be addressed quicker and features added sooner. Mick Curran spends a lot of time building partnerships, promotion and company management. Danika’s appointment will free up Mick from a lot of this, allowing him to focus more on NVDA itself. I know you all join me in welcoming Danika to NV Access, and the wider NVDA community!

That’s all for this week.

NVDA 2018.3beta3 Released

Ven, 24/08/2018 - 02:35

Recently we made available the latest beta of NVDA 2018.3. For anyone who is interested in testing out what NVDA 2018.3 has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download 2018.3beta3, test it out and provide feedback.

Highlights of this release include automatic detection of many Braille displays, support for new Windows 10 features including the Windows 10 Imoji input panel, and many other bug fixes.