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Empowering lives through non-visual access to technology
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In-Process 15th November

Ven, 15/11/2019 - 08:57

Not our longest In-Process this week, but several important pieces to share with you.

NVDACon

Firstly, NVDACon is coming up in less than 24 hours! For all the important info, I’m going to borrow this Post from Austin Pinto:

“Dear NVDA community,

after more than 8 months in which we spent exciting time together to organize the NVDACon 2019, we are almost there! The conference will start on November 15th, 2019 at 21:00 UTC with the opening forum as everyone should already know.

This year’s conference is held for the first time in November. Join us on a very enlightening journey during which we will find out that NVDA is everywhere!

This year we will be proud to have Google as well as Firefox on our conference. For more details, check the schedule in your time zone at https://www.nvdacon.org/2019-program-and-schedule to know how you can attend this conference visit. https://www.nvdacon.org/how-to-join-us

In any case, there are plenty of reasons why this NVDACon will be unique!

We will be glad to see you at NVDACon 2019.

Best regards

Austin Pinto.”

One part of NVDACon will be of particular interest to our Spanish community. For the first time, the NVDACon Keynote will be translated into Spanish. The team from NVDA.es are undertaking the translation for the community. We look forward to this event being available to more people in their native language. For more information on the Spanish translation of the NVDACon keynote, please visit NVDA.es.

A11y Camp

This week, Mick, James and Quentin also attended an in-person conference. The trio travelled to Sydney for A11y Camp to run a workshop on NVDA. The session was a full house. There was engaging discussion and questions right up until the last minute. Ok by last minute, I mean about 20 minutes after it was due to end!

#A11yCamp is Australia’s premier conference on accessibility and inclusion. It’s a fantastic chance for your organisation to upskill their workforce. The sessions are full of simple tips which can make a huge difference. Visit https://a11ycamp.org.au/ for more information on A11y Camp.

I was too busy talking to take any photos of our workshop (seriously, I didn’t shut up!), but here’s one I took of the Darling Harbour Ferris Wheel nearby!

Single letter navigation

One thing we covered in our A11y Camp presentation was how to get around a web page with NVDA. We all know it’s more than just TAB or the arrow keys. Single Letter Navigation keys are a key part of navigating the web. These include keys like D to jump to the next landmark, H for heading, or 2 to jump specifically to a heading level 2. You can also press SHIFT+letter to jump back to the previous instance of that element. But do you know just how many Single Letter Navigation keys there are?

Well, here’s a list (taken from the NVDA User Guide:

  • h: heading
  • l: list
  • i: list item
  • t: table
  • k: link
  • n: non-linked text
  • f: form field
  • u: unvisited link
  • v: visited link
  • e: edit field
  • b: button
  • x: checkbox
  • c: combo box
  • r: radio button
  • q: block quote
  • s: separator
  • m: frame
  • g: graphic
  • d: landmark
  • w: spelling error
  • o: embedded object (audio and video player, application, dialog, etc.)
  • 1 to 6: headings at levels 1 to 6 respectively
  • a: annotation (comment, editor revision, etc.)
  • Shift+comma: start of container
  • Comma: move past end of container

Find one in that list you’ve never used (or haven’t used in a long time), and see if you can find a use for it this weekend!

If you’d like to learn even more about Navigation, or just about anything to do with NVDA, you might consider purchasing “Basic Training for NVDA” (That link is to the Electronic Text version, but don’t forget, it’s also available in Human-read, Daisy MP3 audio and Hardcopy Braille, or in a bundle with our other training material and telephone support).

That’s all for this week. Enjoy #NVDACon2019 (that’s the official hashtag btw). Be sure to follow the #NVDACon2019 hashtag on Twitter for updates and commentary, and of course, Join in NVDACon 2019 on Team Talk!

In-Process 30th October

Mer, 30/10/2019 - 00:48

In-Process has been missing in action for a couple of weeks, but don’t fret, we’ve all been working hard! This week, it’s all about the events. Let’s get into it:

Microsoft AT Partner summit

Mick and Quentin spent a week in Seattle at the Microsoft AT Partner Summit. The summit brings NV Access and other assistive technology companies together with Microsoft. It is a chance to work together on the future of Microsoft products. Microsoft shares their plans for the direction of accessibility in their products. Partners provide advice and suggestions about how best to implement strategies. We were also able to meet with people and departments to collaborate. We appreciate the opportunity to be able to share our expertise with Microsoft. Working together towards shared goals will improve the experience for all users.

Michael Curran in SR-71 Blackbird cockpit at the Museum of Flight, Seattle

It wasn’t all work, we also got to visit the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. They have models of very early planes, exhibits from WWI & WWII. There are also aircraft you can walk through, including a Concorde, and the first jet Air Force One. Before we went, we had organised for a Docent tour. This was a fantastic experience. Wearing gloves, we got to touch a lot of the planes which are otherwise roped off. We are very grateful to the team at the museum who put in a lot of effort to give us a memorable time! Do visit if you are ever in Seattle.

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit

While half the team were in the USA, the other half went to Germany for a different summit. Reef and James travelled to the Google Summer of Code (GSOC) Mentor Summit. Back in March, In-Process covered NV Access being accepted as a Mentor Organisation for the Google Summer of Code. Since then, mentoree Bill Dengler has worked with mentors Mick Curran and Reef Turner. Anyone looking at NVDA pull requests will have seen quite a few from “CodeOfDusk”. Bill, we hope you got as much out of your time with us as our users will from your contributions! And, we look forward to seeing your career go from strength to strength in the future!

James with a hundred of his closest friends at the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit

#ID24

ID24 logo

October also saw the 2019 Inclusive Design 24, or #ID24 conference. ID24 is a 24-hour, online accessibility conference. The conference is free and live-streamed on YouTube. The brainchild of Léonie Watson, in 2019, the event ran across October 9 – 11 (depending on your time zone). Don’t worry if you’re just hearing about the event for the first time. All the events are still available on The #ID24 YouTube Channel. NV Access is honoured and humbled that many of the speakers donated their speaker fees to us. This donation goes towards supporting the continued development of the NVDA screen reader. Thank you to Léonie Watson and the team at #ID24, the speakers, and all the companies who support the conference!

NVDACon

#ID24 isn’t the only online conference worth crowing about this week. Our very own conference, NVDACon 2019 is rapidly approaching. Remember to save the 15th to the 17th November as we gear up for the biggest NVDACon yet. The schedule will be out soon and promises content from four continents, and heaps of speakers. Plus, the first-ever NVDACon session to be live translated! Read more at https://www.nvdacon.org/ or follow NVDACon on Twitter or Facebook for more details as they come to hand!

Preparing for success in Kiribati

Recently we featured the story of Ben Claire’s work in Kiribati, a small Pacific nation. Ben has taught many students to use NVDA and they are going on to build fantastic futures for themselves! As excited as we were to showcase this story, we’ve been blown away by the reactions from around the world. We’re thrilled that Jenny Lay-Flurrie used it to open the Microsoft AT Partner Summit. Jenny is the Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft, so quite high recognition indeed. In sharing it on Twitter, she said “Read this. It says more about the power of #accessibility to include than I ever could. Thank you, Ben Clare, for sharing your knowledge and technology with the students in Republic of Kiribati. NVAccess, this is what it’s all about! #inclusion #disability”

Ben Clare working with students

That’s all for this week. We won’t leave it so long before the next In-Process. Since it’s Halloween tomorrow, I carved a special NVDA Pumpkin!

NVDA Halloween pumpkin

Rest assured, I won’t be taking up a new career as a sculptor any time soon. To make up for that, let’s flashback to a much more creative effort from several years ago. In 2017, Derek Riemer released this Halloween add-on for NVDA. Note that it will randomly make you jump, so be warned!

Until next time, keep participating in the user group and on Twitter and Facebook. Remember too, you can always send us any comments, questions or suggestions via email.

Preparing for success in Kiribati

Ven, 11/10/2019 - 07:19

Recently, six blind students graduated with Information & Communication Technology (ICT) qualifications on Kiribati. They attribute their success to the great assistance of NVDA. Ben Clare, an Inclusive Education Advisor helped bring NVDA to Kiribati. We are very proud to be able to share some of the work done using NVDA on Kiribati with you.

The Republic of Kiribati is in Micronesia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. South of Hawaii, the island nation straddles both the equator and the 180th Meridian. The International dateline deviates around Micronesia. This means Kiribati’s easternmost islands have the most advanced time on earth of GMT +14.

Ben Clare works throughout the Pacific. He delivers assistive technology workshops to individuals and disabled people’s organisations. Ben’s teaching ranges from touch typing, through to application building and advanced mathematics. “All using NVDA, of course”, adds Ben, who is an NVDA user himself and has long been an advocate of NV Access.

The Republic of Kiribati is one of the poorest and least developed nations in the Pacific. Access to education generally is a challenge, let alone for people with disabilities. The Kiribati School and Centre for Children with Special Needs is in the capital city of South Tarawa. It is the only facility catering for people with a disability in Kiribati and is making a big difference. The school has over 250 students with varying disabilities. About 25 of the school’s students are blind or have low vision.

Ben Clare with students in Kiribati

In recent years, the School has begun to roll out the standard Kiribati curriculum. This results in students learning the same as those attending regular school. Inclusive education is also embraced in mainstream schools. Hearing and vision-impaired students are integrating and achieving great exam results. One such successful student who is totally blind uses NVDA daily. Ben Clare taught him NVDA during his time as a full-time volunteer at the school. NVDA runs on a laptop to complete school assignments, homework and Internet research. Students find NVDA to be a highly reliable assistive technology. It is sometimes necessary to access computers located in the school laboratory. NVDA being portable and transferable is ideal for this work. NVDA is having such a positive impact in countries like Kiribati. Purchasing expensive software licenses is not possible. This is partly due to it not being affordable. Lack of available computers also means licenses would often need to be transferred. Being available at no cost means that NVDA totally solves this problem. NVDA also works with all the standard software the school uses, such as Microsoft Office. The ongoing work that Microsoft does to ensure the Accessibility of Microsoft Office ensures it is useable by all. This student is thriving as a result, coming in the top 5 per cent for his form 6 results. He is currently well on the way to completing form 7.

NVDA is also having a positive impact on other blind students from the Kiribati School. Six students recently graduated from Kiribati Institute of Technology. The group all completed a diploma in ICT and Office Management. These are the first students with a disability to graduate from the Institute. They are also the first students with a disability to gain a qualification without having to leave the country. Again, NVDA was integral in this. At first, the students undertook classes on how to use assistive technology. They then went on to do regular subjects such as using Microsoft Word and browsing the Internet. All the PCs at the college are equipped with NVDA. The students utilised headphones to hear the voice output. At first, it took a little while for them to understand the synthetic speech. Once they got the hang of the technology, they progressed at the same pace as their sighted peers.

Since the introduction of NVDA, it has had an enormous and positive impact on access to computers. This is especially true for people in developing countries. The effect is even greater when paired with Braille. To go with NVDA, Ben also recently gifted an Orbit Reader 20 to the Kiribati school. This refreshable Braille device enables access to Braille literacy everywhere, anywhere. The Orbit Reader can connect to a standard PC where the contents of the screen are output in Braille. Documents can be stored on an SD card inside the device, to read without a PC connection. NVDA is opening study and employment opportunities that were a pipe dream only a short time ago!

Ben Clare working with students

After this successful trip to Kiribati, Ben Clare is travelling to Tonga next. He is donating a laptop with NVDA to the Tonga Vision Impairment Association. The association has only recently formed, and Ben will also run a training workshop for staff. Following his visit, the staff will train other members. The Association will also use NVDA to operate their new Index Braille embosser.

Ben is also working with a student from the Solomon Islands who is studying Law in Fiji. He is currently in 4th year and will be the first lawyer in the Solomon Islands who is blind or vision impaired. He often credits the success he has to his ability to use the computer with NVDA. New opportunities are being created all over the pacific, and we are thrilled that NVDA can play a part!

If you know an organisation or an individual who would benefit from NVDA, please spread the word – it costs nothing to Download NVDA, after all! If you are considering NVDA for a company or government, please see our Corporate and Government page which has lots of useful information on regulatory compliance, the license agreement, security and much more.

If you have a story you’d like to share with us, please do Email us!

NVDA 2019.2.1 Released

Mer, 02/10/2019 - 09:19

NV Access has just released an important update to NVDA 2019.2 which fixes several crashes.

A reminder that NV Access always recommends closing all applications (including web browsers) before updating NVDA.

NVDA 2019.2.1 contains the following changes:

  • Addressed several crashes in Gmail seen in both Firefox and Chrome when interacting with particular popup menus such as when creating filters or changing certain Gmail settings. (#10175, #9402, #8924)
  • In Windows 7, NVDA no longer causes Windows Explorer to crash when the mouse is used in the start menu. (#9435)
  • Windows Explorer on Windows 7 no longer crashes when accessing metadata edit fields. (#5337)
  • NVDA no longer freezes when interacting with images with a base64 URI in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. (#10227)

Download NVDA 2019.2.1

In-Process 1st October

Mar, 01/10/2019 - 07:59

It’s October already! Where is the year going? Well before it slips away, we’ve got a lot for you this week. A great milestone for NVDA, a new beta, a shout-out to our friends at Intopia and heaps more, so let’s get started!

2019.2.1 beta 1

Firstly, some news which will be a great relief to some and a surprise to others – NVDA 2019.2.1 beta 1 has been released. Yes, we are working towards an intermediate release: NVDA 2019.2.1. This update fixes crashes in Gmail, Explorer in Windows 7, and images in browsers. Read the full Release Announcement and do download and try out the beta for yourself. Although it is a beta build, it only contains those few changes from NVDA 2019.2, so we are confident it should be stable.

Note that this does not include any of the behind-the-scenes changes which are coming in 2019.3. It is still built with Python 2 etc.

WebAIM survey results

WebAIM regularly conduct surveys of screen reader users. Based out of Utah State University, they share the results for the benefit of the whole community. This year’s Screen Reader User Survey #8 Results have, for the first time, seen NVDA ranked as the most popular screen reader used. This ranking was both as a primary screen reader, and as a “Commonly used” screen reader.

Graph showing most commonly used screenreaders from 2009 to 2019

This is a very proud achievement for all the NV Access team. It is also a moment we know marks the start of a journey for us, rather than the pinnacle. Mick and Reef are enhancing NVDA’s robustness, work which has been in progress for a long time already. James Boreham has worked tirelessly forging partnerships with others around the world. Quentin has collated a suite of training material and oversees numerous support channels. All these things and more combine to solidify NVDA’s viability into the future. They ensure that the product, and the services behind the product, are all scalable and strong. We need NVDA to work not only for existing users but also for all the users poised to join our community over the next few years and beyond!

The future is bright, and we are excited to have you with us for the journey!

Thank you to Intopia

Intopia logo

Last week we took the opportunity to acknowledge the great work Intopia do. Intopia have long been very generous supporters of NV Access. If you haven’t read Shout-out to our friends at Intopiayet, it also has information on our upcoming workshop at A11y Camp 2019. We’d love to see you there!

Updates to audio and Braille

We regularly review the training material available in The NV Access Shop. It is important to ensure it remains accurate for the latest changes in Windows and NVDA. In the case of the Office material, Office 365 itself is also constantly evolving. We have recently updated our “Basic Training for NVDA” Audio and Braille versions. The audio material is human-read by Glen Morrow Consulting. The audio is downloadable in daisy mp3 format. You can play it with any software or hardware device which can play either Daisy books, or MP3 files. The braille version is compiled in UEB by Horizons for the Blind. Shipping includes tracking, anywhere in the world.

Differences between Office 365 and Office 2016 for screen reader users

We’ve previously covered some of the differences between Office 365 and Office 2016 (Read In-Process from 11th September 2018, and go to the “Office 365 subscription or Office 2016 one-time purchase?” heading). It is always a hot topic with those considering which to choose. Recently we found a page from Microsoft on Differences between the Editor in Office 2016 and Office 365 for screen reader users. This page highlights some of the differences in more detail. It talks about Office 2016, so I’m not sure if it covers everything which might be new in Office 2019. We are pleased to report that NVDA itself works well with Office 365, as well as earlier versions. We have found that Microsoft is much more likely to fix reported bugs in Office 365 than earlier versions:

That’s all for this week, we look forward to bringing you more on NVDA 2019.2.1 as it gets closer. In the meantime, do try the NVDA 2019.2.1 beta and let us know what you think!

NVDA 2019.2.1beta1 released

Mer, 25/09/2019 - 00:45

Beta1 of NVDA 2019.2.1 is now available for download and testing. NVDA 2019.2.1 is a minor release to fix some critical bugs seen in NVDA 2019.2.

Changes include:

  • Addressed several crashes in Gmail seen in both Firefox and Chrome when interacting with particular popup menus such as when creating filters or changing certain Gmail settings. (#10175, #9402, #8924)
  • In Windows 7, NVDA no longer causes Windows Explorer to crash when the mouse is used in the start menu. (#9435)
  • Windows Explorer on Windows 7 no longer crashes when accessing metadata edit fields. (#5337)
  • NVDA no longer freezes when interacting with images with a base64 URI in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. (#10227)

Shout-out to our friends at Intopia

Lun, 23/09/2019 - 09:06

NV Access would like to give a big shout-out to our friends at Intopia for their support. Intopia is an Australian-based socially-aware boutique digital agency that promotes inclusive design and development. Their vision: to create an inclusive digital world. Put another way: let’s make things better for people that need it more than most.

Intopia logo

Intopia is a genuine social enterprise. They give five percent of their revenue to initiatives and non-profit organisations that directly or indirectly support people with disabilities. Intopia have been keen supporters of NV Access for many years. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Intopia for their generosity. Their partnership helps enable NV Access to continue in our purpose. NV Access aims to lower the economic and social barriers associated with accessing IT for people who are Blind or Vision Impaired. NV Access is dedicated to the ideal that accessibility and fair access is a right. This should not come as an extra cost to a person who is Blind or Vision Impaired. Information and technology are an important part of daily living. Our ideal facilitates greater participation and independence in all facets of life. This is particularly important within the areas of education and obtaining employment.

Most digital accessibility issues stem from lack of awareness, not intentional exclusion. Intopia are doing everything they can to close the knowledge gap. They discuss and share accessibility news through Twitter and The Intopia Blog, so it’s well worth following them.

Intopia regularly go to, speak at and support accessibility conferences and community meetups. Upcoming events include #a11yTO Conf, GDG Melbourne, and A11y Camp 2019. They also have team members actively supporting the Web Accessibility and Inclusive Design meetups in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Auckland.

At Intopia’s invitation, NV Access will be delivering a workshop at A11y Camp 2019. This year, A11y Camp Australia is in Sydney, Australia from the 12th – 15th November, 2019. Our half-day workshop will give you the confidence to use the NVDA screen reader for accessibility testing. It is for people of all levels of experience, beginner to expert, we’re sure you’ll learn something.

A11y Camp Logo

We look forward to bringing you more information on A11y Camp 2019 in In-Process closer to November!

In-Process 13th September

Ven, 13/09/2019 - 03:44

It might be Friday the 13th AND a full moon, but this week, In-Process is all good news and good luck! Keep reading for info on NVDACon, and some of the exciting fixes and features coming in NVDA 2019.3.

NVDACon 2019

Last weekend, the NVDACon planning committee set the dates for this year’s conference. NVDACon 2019 will be on the weekend of Friday 15th to Sunday 17th November 2019.

What is NVDACon? Good question! NVDACon is the largest international gathering of NVDA users, developers, experts and supporters. NVDACon is completely online. The conference uses the free “Teamtalk” software to enable participation around the world.

As posted by NVDACon on Twitter, it’s not too late to submit a presentation idea. If you’d like to get involved, email info@nvdacon.org with your ideas.

New features coming in NVDA 2019.3

Although NVDA 2019.2 is only just out, work has been gathering pace for some time on the NVDA 2019.3. There have been a lot of rumours about compatibility. I’m pleased to reassure you that over 2/3 of official add-ons are either currently compatible with 2019.3 or are being worked on. We are working hard to ensure that the update will be a positive experience for all users.

Towards that goal, I thought I’d share some of the early features that are making their way into 2019.3. First up, a long requested feature will finally be part of NVDA itself. Screen curtain, when enabled, makes the whole screen black on Windows 8 and above. Note that it doesn’t actually turn the screen off, so it is a privacy feature rather than a power-saving one. You can try it now in the latest Alpha snapshot. Note however, that there is no entry for it in the settings dialog, and the keystroke is not defined by default. You will need to go into the “Input Gestures” dialog and assign a keystroke for it yourself. Be sure to also disable Joseph Lee’s original Screen Curtain add-on as well. Thanks to Joseph for all his work bringing this feature to life! Did I also mention Focus Highlight? No, I’m sure I didn’t… All I’ll say for now is, watch this space!

NVDA’s Screen curtain… the screen is black, that’s it, plain black.
What else were you expecting? Also I cropped it as I was working on some sensitive information at the time!

There are plenty of other exciting things you will find now though. How about a vastly improved command-line experience in Windows 10? This extends to the Command Prompt, PowerShell and Windows subsystem for Linux. For mouse users, a critical bug which crashed explorer in Windows 7 has been fixed (more below). The “move mouse to navigator object” command is more accurate in text fields in Java applications. What else is improved? Navigating by word in Scintilla based editors such as Notepad++. For Braille users, NVDA will stop the system from going into sleep mode while scrolling text. Also, the Braille display will now follow when editing cell contents in Excel.

Windows 7 Explorer crash fix for mouse users

As noted above, we have now fixed an issue with explorer crashing for Windows 7 mouse users. This issue was most prevalent when using Mouse tracking and accessing the start menu.

The latest “Alpha” snapshot addresses this problem. I’d encourage anyone who has experienced this issue to please test the latest alpha and let us know how you find it.

Mouse pointer in the Windows 7 Start menu

You can download the latest alpha from the first “Download” link on our snapshots page. If you haven’t used an alpha build before, when you run the downloaded file, it works like any other version of NVDA. Under the license are options to install, create a portable version or continue. To test this particular fix, you should be able to “Continue running”. This runs a complete version of NVDA, but any changes to settings you make aren’t saved. If you find it particularly useful, you can install it. Note that it will offer to update each day or each time a new alpha build is released. You may also note that it “beeps” more often than a regular stable version of NVDA. NVDA alpha builds beep each time an error is encountered. Often, errors are dealt with in the background with no adverse effects. In a stable version of NVDA, a user would never notice it. In the alpha builds, it beeps so that developers testing the build can know that an error has occurred. Also note that there are some add-ons which are not yet compatible with the current alpha builds.

All things going well, this fix, and all the features noted above, are due for inclusion in NVDA 2019.3 when it comes out.

Finally, we’d like to welcome our Executive Director, Mick back from long service leave. He advised that he is feeling happy and content and ready to get back into things! That’s all for this week, but do follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and we look forward to bringing you more news soon.

In-Process 30th August

Ven, 30/08/2019 - 15:18

Well, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to NVDA 2019.2, so let’s start with that this week:

NVDA 2019.2

If you managed to miss it, NVDA 2019.2 has been out for a couple of weeks now and has been very well received. The new features and fixes are improving the screen-reading experience around the world. If you haven’t updated yet, read all about the new version from the NVDA 2019.2 Release Announcement. Then get 2019.2 from the Download Page.

If you’re still using an older version, now is a great time to upgrade! If you have experienced any issues with recent releases, please let us know. NVDA 2019.2 includes lots of important fixes. If you’d like to correspond with a person, you can write to info@nvaccess.org. You can also browse known issues and file new ones on our GitHub Issue tracker.

NVDA in the workplace

NVDA’s rate of adoption by industry and employers continues to rise. We’ve had a jump recently in the number of queries from businesses wanting tips and support to roll out NVDA. In some cases, this is for one or more employees. In other cases, it is for schools, universities, libraries or other public institutions. We have again updated our Corporate and Government page. There is lots of information on privacy, security and information on deploying NVDA. We have telephone support available to assist your rollout, with numbers in the USA and Australia. There are lots of tips on that Corporate and Government page which answer many of the common questions we get asked. If your organisation has any queries about NVDA, please do Write To Us. Many users access NVDA via a public access computer at a library, internet café or school. If you visit such a facility which doesn’t have NVDA, please do let them know about how they can use NVDA free of charge.

Changing Lives – audio described

Screenshot from “Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader”. Kevin Carey (Chair RNIB), subtitle text “will be using NVDA because that is going to be the screen reader of choice”.

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of a new video. “Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader“, audio described and now on YouTube. This 12-minute video showcases some of the stories which exemplify why NVDA is such a vital resource around the world. The featured stories demonstrate people empowered to achieve their goals. Audio description is a crucial way to make video accessible to blind users. We felt that the process we used to audio describe this video was worth sharing. We have written a post to detail the way we described it, with tips you can take away as well.

Viewing information about files

I had a query this week about reporting information about a file, such as size and when it was last modified. To find this information, use File Explorer, also called Windows Explorer. The key is to set File Explorer to display files using “Details” view. This view makes browsing some of the basic information much easier than other views. To set File Explorer to use Details view, browse to the desired folder, and press CONTROL+ALT+6. Note this is the 6 on the number row, above the letters T and Y.

File Manager showing Details view

All the files are now in one list with information about each file in columns to the right. The default columns in details view are Name, Date modified, Type, Type and Size. Press UP and DOWN ARROWS to move between the files in the current folder. Press the LEFT and RIGHT ARROWS to move between columns and read the information. Note that when moving between files, the focus stays in the current column. One way around this is to use the review cursor to read the date and other information. Press the UP and DOWN ARROW KEYS to find the file you want to check. Press NVDA+numpad 6 (Desktop keyboard layout) or NVDA+shift+right arrow (Laptop keyboard layout) to move the review cursor to the right. The system focus is still on the file name, but the review cursor reads the other file information. When you press down arrow, the focus will move to the next file, and NVDA will report its name

“Basic Training for NVDA” has a whole section devoted to using File Explorer. This includes detailed information on each feature, as well as step-by-step activities. Basic Training for NVDA is available from the NV Access shop. It can be purchased in electronic text, audio or braille formats. It is also included in the popular NVDA Productivity Bundle.

That’s all for August! What do you think of NVDA 2019.2? Let us know your thoughts and we’ll be back again in September!

Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader, audio described

Gio, 29/08/2019 - 07:14

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of a new video. “Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader” is now audio described. This 12-minute video showcases some of the stories which exemplify why NVDA is such a vital resource around the world. The featured stories demonstrate people empowered to achieve their goals. Like the users of NVDA itself, the stories come from all around the world. We recently highlighted the experience of students in Vietnam in a separate post. We’ve had a great response to “Closing the Gap in Vietnam“. We look forward to bringing you more stories from those enabling users around the world! If you’d like to see your organisation’s work featured, please get in touch.

As we have the capacity and expertise within the team, we decided to describe the video in-house. In the open spirit of how we work, we wanted to share the experience. We feel it might be a useful guide to assist others in planning their own video (on any topic).

The first task was finding software to do the job with. I had access to editing software I’d used previously so I used that. I won’t name it, since it actually isn’t accessible, and I’m trying to work with the company to fix their software. If you’d like to add a description to a video yourself, what you need is video editing software. The functions I used were:

  • Being able to navigate around the video to watch it and work out where to add description.
  • Functionality to record audio (or import audio you’ve recorded elsewhere)
  • The ability to adjust the audio levels of the imported and original audio.
  • Screenshot from “Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader”. Kevin Carey (Chair RNIB), subtitle text “will be using NVDA because that is going to be the screen reader of choice”.

    My process was first to watch the video and make notes on what I would need to describe. Next, I planned what to say and where to add it in. Finally, I recorded my description and inserted it.

    There are two ways to add description to a video. You can either pause the video to add description. Services like YouDescribe makes it possible even to open source this for anyone to do. Adding audio over the original video works well when there are pauses that additional audio can be added in. Both approaches are valid and depend on the video and personal preference. Sometimes a combination of the two may work best.

    Our approach was to look for places to lower the audio of the original video and add description over the top. Where I was speaking, I lowered the primary audio to 25% of the original volume. The idea is to make it work like NVDA’s audio ducking feature. One challenge with recording audio separately is matching the audio quality.

    Adding audio description is different to adding subtitles to a video. With sub-titles, you need to transcribe what is said, and note other sounds heard. Aside from speech, meaning in videos is mostly conveyed visually. With audio description, speaking any text shown on screen is only one part. It is often necessary to describe what is happening as well. “Changing Lives” is an interview-style presentation. It helps that there is less non-verbal action than other video styles. introducing each of the speakers is the key detail not covered in the speakers’ own words. There are some shots of students at computers, having lunch or playing. There are also atmospheric shots of some of the locations. The video is very fast-paced, so we concentrated only on introducing the speakers.

    Screenshot from “Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader”. People in a market in Vietnam, subtitle text “regardless of their financial situation or where they live”.

    There were several places with reasonable gaps between speaking. Shots of locations or people working, with music, are good chances to introduce people. These didn’t always coincide with new speakers. There were also places with several new speakers in a row, without a break in talking.

    In places with limited room, we ducked the audio volume at the end of one speaker and into the first words of the next. This approach allowed us to keep the pace of the video, and the original length. Everyone is also introduced before they speak for the first time. Adding description after making the video definitely added challenges. When making software, it is easiest to make it accessible when planned from the start of the project. The same is true for audio describing video, and we’d encourage anyone making a video to plan it from the start.

    Changing Lives” showcases the success that comes from providing opportunities to people. This video allows NV Access to promote to new markets. It highlights the difference that technology makes to blind users around the world. The stories in the video also prove how accessibility does not have to mean a financial burden. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it. If you would like to share “Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA screen reader“, please let us know.

In-Process 15th August

Gio, 15/08/2019 - 04:36

It’s here! I know you’ve been waiting patiently, and we’re very pleased to bring you NVDA 2019.2. Let’s start with that:

Close-up photograph of NVDA logo in notification area.

NVDA 2019.2 released

NVDA 2019.2 is now available and we recommend all users update to this stable version. Highlights of this release include auto-detection of Freedom Scientific braille displays, an experimental setting in the Advanced panel to stop browse mode from automatically moving focus (which may provide performance improvements), a rate boost option for the Windows OneCore synthesizer to achieve very fast rates and many other bug fixes.

Please note, after updating any software, it is a good idea to restart the computer. Restart by going to the Shutdown dialog, selecting “restart” and pressing ENTER. Updating software can change files which are in use. This can lead to instability and strange behaviour which is resolved by rebooting. This is the first thing to try if you do notice anything odd after updating.

No one uses NVDA on its own, so we’ve improved support in a bunch of third-party programs: Specifically Miranda IM, Visual Studio Editor, Eclipse, a heap of things in Notepad++ and other Scintilla based editors, Google Docs, Excel, Firefox and Chrome.

In all, there are 14 new features, 9 changes to existing features, 22 other bugs fixed, and 8 changes specifically for developers. Be sure to check out the full What’s new in 2019.2 to find out everything that’s updated or new.

Closing the gap in Vietnam

We are always looking for good news stories to share. We published one such story last week, with an accompanying video. Called, “Closing the Gap in Vietnam“, this piece highlights some great work happening in Vietnam. The Sao Mai Center translated NVDA and the training material to Vietnamese. They use the material to teach their clients to use NVDA with Microsoft Windows. They also teach Microsoft Office with NVDA to increase employment prospects. The Nguyen Dinh Chieu School and Nhat Hong School for the Blind also use the translated material. This allows them to teach their students in their native language. Students are happy to be using a product they can afford and will be able to continue to use in the future. Learning these important computer skills is also reducing unemployment. The unemployment rate among blind Vietnamese is 94% so this is a huge achievement. Read the full “Closing the Gap in Vietnam” post and watch the video to learn more about this great work.

Vietnamese children working on the computer

Updates to Microsoft Word 365

One of the great things about Office 365 is getting new features, updates and fixes. One of the things which makes people nervous is change, and not always to everyone’s liking.

About a year ago, In In-Process, I touted one of the great updates as being improvements to spell check in Word.

With Office 2016, you needed to use object navigation to read the misspelt word. There was also no preview in the task pane of the surrounding sentence at all. In 2018, Microsoft added a preview of the paragraph surrounding the misspelt word to the task pane. NVDA now also spells the erroneous word automatically. The definitions of suggested replacement words are also reported when moving to them.

Since then, Office 365 has continued to evolve. Recently, this has included new updates to spelling and grammar checking. When you press F7 you now get a summary of how many spelling and grammatical errors are in the document. Press ENTER to go to the first one or press TAB to move between “Corrections” and “Refinements”. Corrections lists how many spelling and grammatical errors there are. Press the arrow keys to move between these and ENTER to go to the first one. In refinements, use the arrows to move between different types of refinements. For instance, “Clarity and Conciseness”.

Press ENTER on Corrections, or the total results to show the spelling error pane. The focus starts on the misspelt word, spelling it, and reading the line it is on. Press tab or down arrow to the first suggestion then, if needed, either tab or arrow through the list. Once the desired replacement is found, press ENTER to change this occurrence. Alternatively, press alt+down arrow to open a drop-down list. From the drop-down list choose either “Read aloud” (L), “Spell Out” (no quick letter), “Change all” (A) or “Add to Autocorrect” (R). Word had removed the buttons which used to list these options after the suggestions list.

One change from the previous behaviour is that from the suggested change, you can’t press alt+a to “change all”. You do have to open the drop-down list, then press A, or select that option. It would be nice to see the ability to “change all” in one step back again. If you would like to see Microsoft reinstate this, be sure to let their disability answer desk know.

That’s all for this week. Please do let us know how you find NVDA 2019.2. Also, have you got a good news story? Please let us know about that too, and we could feature the great things you are doing in a future article!

NVDA 2019.2 Now Available

Gio, 15/08/2019 - 00:44

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2019.2 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.

Highlights of this release include auto detection of Freedom Scientific braille displays, an experimental setting in the Advanced panel to stop browse mode from automatically moving focus (which may provide performance improvements), a rate boost option for the Windows OneCore synthesizer to achieve very fast rates, and many other bug fixes.

Please note, after updating any software, it is a good idea to restart the computer. Restart by going to the Shutdown dialog, selecting “restart” and pressing ENTER. Updating software can change files which are in use. This can lead to instability and strange behaviour which is resolved by rebooting. This is the first thing to try if you do notice anything odd after updating.

While downloading NVDA, please consider becoming a monthly donor. Contributions like yours help NV Access continue our important work.

We also have a range of training material in the NV Access Shop to help you increase your skills with NVDA. Start with the popular Basic Training for NVDA in electronic text, audio and braille. Save with the NVDA Productivity Bundle. This includes Basic Training, all our Microsoft Office training, and telephone support.

To download NVDA, please visit our Download page.

To find out what’s new in this release, please visit What’s new in NVDA 2019.2

Close-up photograph of NVDA logo in notification area.

NVDA 2019.2RC2 Released

Mer, 07/08/2019 - 16:27

Release Candidate 2 (RC2) of NVDA 2019.2 is now available for download and testing. We encourage all users to download this RC and provide feedback. This is a release candidate for NVDA 2019.2. Unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2019.2 release.

Highlights of this release include auto detection of Freedom Scientific braille displays, an experimental setting in the Advanced panel to stop browse mode from automatically moving focus (which may provide performance improvements), a rate boost option for the Windows OneCore synthesizer to achieve very fast rates, and many other bug fixes.

Changes from RC1: This Release Candidate reverts the search history in the NVDA find dialog feature which made the find dialog unusable for those using IME (input method editor).

Download NVDA 2019.2RC2

What’s new in this release of NVDA

Please report any issues on GitHub

Closing the gap in Vietnam

Mar, 06/08/2019 - 04:04

The Sao Mai Vocational & Assistive Technology Center for the Blind is based in Vietnam. Like NV Access, they are a non-profit organisation. The Sao Mai centre was established in 2001. Here is an excerpt from the Sao Mai website:

Vietnamese schoolchildren singing

“We work to empower the blind by using and developing assistive technology in education, employment and daily living activities.

We provide assistive products, computer and social/soft skill training for the blind.

We also work for vocational, job training and placement for the blind.”

Sao Mai has long recognised the benefits of NVDA. A screen reader which does not burden its users with ongoing costs is vital for Sao Mai’s clients. The average wage in Vietnam is less than $1,800 USD per year. Some screen readers cost that much just to purchase. Blind individuals in Vietnam are not able to afford such high costs. Sao Mai has been very encouraging of Australian charity NV Access and our work developing NVDA. They have been instrumental in translating NVDA to Vietnamese for their users.

A grant from the Nippon Foundation meant that their translators, who are all blind or vision impaired themselves, were fairly paid for their work, and were able to translate the official NV Access training material as well. This directly provided employment for blind individuals, while enabling other Vietnamese to learn in their own language. The school uses Microsoft Office to teach students needed computer skills. Microsoft Office is feature-rich, so having training material in their native language is vital for students to gain a solid grasp of the concepts.

Since the translation of the material, over 400 people have used it through Sao Mai. These users have gained valuable skills with NVDA and Microsoft Office. Skills which will give these users a valuable boost as they seek employment. In the past two years, Sao Mai itself has successfully placed 32 people in employment using NVDA and Microsoft Office after completing this training. To put that in perspective, the unemployment rate amongst blind people in Vietnam is roughly 94%. By training their students in Microsoft Office with NVDA, Sao Mai give their students access to employment and educational opportunities that they may not otherwise have had.

Sao Mai also collaborates with the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School in Vietnam, who teach school-age children vital computer skills. The translated materials on NVDA and Microsoft Office were distributed to the teachers and students at Nguyen Din Chieu School. The teachers understand the importance of grounding their students in NVDA and Microsoft Office skills early. The students particularly, are excited about the opportunities these skills will open up for them in future.

Producing high-quality training materials on NVDA with Windows and Office has been possible thanks to the close relationship between NV Access and Microsoft. The training material explores each feature of Windows and Office with NVDA. Writing this material uncovered opportunities for improvement both in Microsoft Office and in NVDA. Many of these issues involve features previously inaccessible to screen reader users. NV Access and Microsoft have worked together and resolved many of these issues. This has improved the products from both companies.

Vietnamese children working on the computer

Microsoft has worked hard to improve the accessibility of their products in recent years. They have been eager to receive feedback from NV Access on any issues discovered as the training material was developed. The fruits of this can be seen in the improved experience for NVDA users in Microsoft Office 365. An experience which improves with each release of NVDA and of Microsoft Office. As the most commonly used operating environment in business, providing a quality experience in Microsoft Windows and Office 365 increases both education and employment opportunities for NVDA users.

Staff and students of Sao Mai Center for the Blind, Nhat Hong School for the Blind and Nguyen Dinh Chieu School in Vietnam are featured on the video above. NV Access founders Michael Curran and Jamie Teh also speak about the amazing impact that access to technology has for blind individuals.

Find out more:

Have you got a story you’d like to share? Please email info@nvaccess.org and we’d be happy to work with you to put something together.

In-Process 31st July

Mer, 31/07/2019 - 05:26

Ooh, 2019.2 is almost here! Let’s dive straight in:

NVDA 2019.2 RC1

Yes, we’ve released NVDA 2019.2 RC1. The “RC” stands for “Release Candidate” and is the last step before the final version is released. So close, that if no-one finds any major bugs in the RC version, it will be identical aside from the name.

We would really encourage everyone to please test out the release candidate. It’s a stable and solid build, and we’re confident that you’ll like it. Highlights of this release include auto detection of Freedom Scientific braille displays, an experimental setting in the Advanced panel to stop browse mode from automatically moving focus (which may provide performance improvements), a rate boost option for the Windows OneCore synthesizer to achieve very fast rates, and many other bug fixes.

All of your favourite synthesizers and add-ons which work in NVDA 2019.1.1 should continue to work in NVDA 2019.2. There are no big breaking changes to worry about.

Since the second beta release, there are several important new features. These include updating eSpeak NG and LibLouis. There are improvements to live region tracking and the browse mode find dialog. There are also new features and settings for developers.

Head over to the RC1 announcement to check out the full “What’s new”, and to download RC1 to try for yourself.

Release Candidate builds

So, what is a release candidate build? As the name implies, a build which is a candidate to become the final release if everything checks out. We put this build out there and encourage as many people as possible to download and use it. Unless a major issue is found, it will be identical to the final version.

We often get asked “In this upcoming release, can you please add feature ABCD (or fix bug EFGH)”. If that feature or issue isn’t already in the RC build, then unfortunately, we can’t include it in this release. To make each release as stable as possible, new code gets tested in alpha and then beta releases first. This ensures the code does what it is intended to do. It also minimises the chance of it causing any unforeseen issues along the way.

We do still want to hear about feature ABCD you want included in NVDA or bug EFGH you need fixed. The best way to report these is via GitHub. If you’d like to bounce your idea off others first, you can also create a topic in the NVDA user email group.

Using NVDA to improve email.

Well over 100,000 users rely on NVDA to navigate and use the PC. We also have others who use NVDA in a variety of ways to help ensure accessibility of the products they create. One company who use NVDA to make email more accessible is Litmus. Litmus help companies ensure the emails they send are as polished as possible. This includes things like checking that links work and making sure that images exist. Litmus now also let customers hear how their email sounds with NVDA. This enables companies to ensure that users relying on screen readers and smart voice assistants hear a coherent message. Read Litmus’ blog post detailing the importance of NVDA to this process.

Updates to the Switching from Jaws to NVDA wiki

The NVDA user email group is always a wealth of knowledge. One recent conversation discussed functionality which varied between screen readers. The community-created “Switching from Jaws to NVDA” wiki had much of this information. It has now been updated to include several new topics and more detail. New information includes accessing the notification area, Office ribbons, progress bars and emoji.

If you’re new to NVDA and have previously used Jaws, Switching from Jaws to NVDA has a wealth of information. If you’re familiar with both screen readers, feel free to read over the document to see if there is anything else which might be useful for a new convert.

WebAIM Screen reader survey

WebAIM are running their independent screen reader survey for the 8th time. This survey is a valuable chance to share your thoughts and experiences as a screen reader user. In their words, “Your responses provide valuable data and promote better accessibility”. We would encourage everyone to consider participating in the WebAIM screen reader survey

Building for the future

There has been some concern about whether future changes planned for NVDA later in the year might break some add-ons. Firstly, I’d like to reiterate that none of these changes are in 2019.2, so you should have no hesitation in updating to this build. Our intention going forward is to ensure that all changes are as smooth as possible and to minimise the chance of any functionality being lost. For full details on the changes, why they are unavoidable, and the benefits they will bring, please see This Post in the NVDA User Email group.

That’s all for this week. Next time around, we should be about ready to release 2019.2, if it’s not out already by then. In the meantime, do please download NVDA 2019.2 RC1, and let us know what you think!

NVDA 2019.2RC1 Released

Mar, 30/07/2019 - 01:52

Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of NVDA 2019.2 is now available for download and testing. We encourage all users to download this RC and provide feedback. This is a release candidate for NVDA 2019.2. Unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2019.2 release.

Highlights of this release include auto detection of Freedom Scientific braille displays, an experimental setting in the Advanced panel to stop browse mode from automatically moving focus (which may provide performance improvements), a rate boost option for the Windows OneCore synthesizer to achieve very fast rates, and many other bug fixes.

Changes from Beta 2: New Features

  • Added a command to show the replacement for the symbol under the review cursor. (#9286)
  • Added an experimental option to the Advanced Settings panel that allows you to try out a new, work-in-progress rewrite of NVDA’s Windows Console support using the Microsoft UI Automation API. (#9614)
  • In the Python Console, the input field now supports pasting multiple lines from the clipboard. (#9776)

Changes

  • Updated eSpeak-NG to commit 67324cc.
  • Updated liblouis braille translator to version 3.10.0. (#9439, #9678)
  • NVDA will now report the word ‘selected’ after reporting the text a user has just selected.(#9028, #9909)
  • In Microsoft Visual Studio Code, browse mode is now off by default. (#9828)
Bug Fixes

  • In Mozilla Firefox, updates to a live region are no longer reported if the live region is in a background tab. (#1318)
  • NVDA’s browse mode Find dialog no longer fails to function if NVDA’s About dialog is currently open in the background. (#8566)

Changes for developers

  • Added a new isWin10 function to the winVersion module which returns whether or not this copy of NVDA is running on (at least) the supplied release version of Windows 10 (such as 1903). (#9761)
  • The NVDA Python console now contains more useful modules in its namespace (such as appModules, globalPlugins, config and textInfos). (#9789)
  • The result of the last executed command in the NVDA Python console is now accessible from the _ (line) variable. (#9782)
  • Note that this shadows the gettext translation function also called “_”. To access the translation function: del _

Download NVDA 2019.2RC1

What’s new in this release of NVDA

Please report any issues on GitHub