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Empowering lives through non-visual access to technology
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NVDA 2020.3beta3 Available for Testing

Gio, 24/09/2020 - 16:55

Beta3 of NVDA 2020.3 is now available for download and testing. For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

Changes since Beta2:

  • Major performance improvements in Visual Studio Code.

Changes since Beta1:

  • Updated translations for many languages.
  • Small corrections to the changes file.
  • Ensure that ‘Microsoft Sound Mapper’ entry under output devices is translated.
  • Handy Tech Active Braille with joystick is now supported.
  • Certain SAPI5 voices (such as Ivona) no longer skip speech.

NVDA 2020.3 includes several large improvements to stability and performance, particularly in Microsoft Office applications. There are new settings to toggle touchscreen support and graphics reporting. The existence of marked (highlighted) content can be reported in browsers, and there are new German braille tables.

In-Process 24th September 2020

Gio, 24/09/2020 - 03:32

Well we made it to the equinox I promised last time around! It’s now either Spring, or Autumn (or Fall), and hopefully the weather is nice where you are.

NVDA 2020.3 Beta 2

Text “BETA 2” in turquoise over a dark background on top of the white on purple NVDA logo.

The first news this time around, is the release of a Beta Version of NVDA 2020.3, two, in fact. Last week we released NVDA 2020.3 beta 1, and this week we have released a second beta. NVDA 2020.3 includes several large improvements to stability and performance, particularly in Microsoft Office applications. There are new settings to toggle touchscreen support and graphics reporting. The existence of marked (highlighted) content can be reported in browsers. There are also new German braille tables.

We’ve been asked whether we recommend people install the beta. The answer depends on your own skill level and desire to test new features. Of course, every effort is made to ensure the beta works smoothly. The main reason for having a beta, however, is for people to test it before releasing the final version. If you do test it, please ensure you have a way of returning to your previous stable version if things don’t work. Most users can test features by using the beta as a temporary or portable copy. The temporary copy is the one which starts when you run the downloaded file. Choose “Continue” to keep running that copy and test what you’d like to check. If you “Create portable copy”, you can specify a folder (on your hard drive or a removeable USB) to setup a copy of NVDA on. This works like the temporary option, except changes to settings are saved in that copy. You will need to either create a shortcut or specifically run it from that folder each time. Either way, again it won’t interfere with your installed version.

Read the full what’s new, and download the beta from the NVDA 2020.3 Beta 2 Announcement.

NVDACon

This year’s NVDACon, the online conference for all things NVDA, is fast approaching. One of the great things about NVDACon, is that it is organised and run entirely by users!

This year’s NVDACon will be held the weekend of the 5th / 6th December, with the theme “Bridging the Distance”. The NVDACon organisers are currently calling for submissions. Options range from “Thunder clap tweets” to full length sessions and everything in-between. Contact info@nvdacon.org with your session ideas!

Software Engineer Sought

We’re Hiring text in purple with sunburst decorations

NV Access is seeking to appoint a Full-Time Software Engineer to join our small team. Your work will focus on improving our NVDA screen reading software and related online infrastructure, including feature implementation and bug fixing. You must be an Australian Resident (For Tax Purposes). For all the details, and to apply, please refer to our Full Time Software Engineer Job Advertisement for all the details and to apply.

How has NVDA benefitted you?

As this turbulent year continues, we want to hear your good news. Please Email Us and tell us, how has NVDA benefitted you during the pandemic? We’ve had excellent responses to this question so far from our Twitter and Facebook followers. We’d love to Hear From You also!

Google Summer of Code

This year’s Google Summer of Code has ended, and we’re pleased to share the final report from our student, Shubham. Shubham created proof of concept Image captioning and Object detection add-ons for NVDA. Note that these are proof of concepts which may provide the basis of future work in this area. They are not themselves finished and polished products. Read Shubham’s Full Report now.

NVDA in the charts

Missa Ultima album cover

Finally, this week, an interesting use of NVDA, by a musician. Ádám Márton Horváth contacted us recently to ask about artistic use of NVDA. He has just released a new album, titled Missa Ultima. He describes it as “an experimental mass, with an apocalyptic topic and feeling, imagining the last day on Earth”. In creating the vocal part of the musical mass, Ádám used NVDA. He then transformed it, using effects and distorting it into the musical tracks. The final result evokes the feeling that these voices are singing in their own way.

Missa Ultima is now available on Ádám’s Bandcamp page.

Have you used NVDA in an interesting way? Or has NVDA benefitted you during the pandemic? Have you tried the latest Beta of NVDA 2020.3? Either way, please Let Us Know!

NVDA 2020.3beta2 Available for Testing

Mar, 22/09/2020 - 20:36

Beta2 of NVDA 2020.3 is now available for download and testing. For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

Changes from Beta1:

  • Updated translations for many languages.
  • Small corrections to the changes file.
  • Ensure that ‘Microsoft Sound Mapper’ entry under output devices is translated.
  • Handy Tech Active Braille with joystick is now supported.
  • Certain SAPI5 voices (such as Ivona) no longer skip speech.

NVDA 2020.3 includes several large improvements to stability and performance, particularly in Microsoft Office applications. There are new settings to toggle touchscreen support and graphics reporting. The existence of marked (highlighted) content can be reported in browsers, and there are new German braille tables.

NVDA 2020.3beta1 Available for Testing

Lun, 14/09/2020 - 15:30

Beta1 of NVDA 2020.3 is now available for download and testing. For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

NVDA 2020.3 includes several large improvements to stability and performance, particularly in Microsoft Office applications. There are new settings to toggle touchscreen support and graphics reporting. The existence of marked (highlighted) content can be reported in browsers, and there are new German braille tables.

In-Process 7th September 2020

Lun, 07/09/2020 - 02:56

Well we made it to Spring down here in the southern hemisphere! And welcome to Autumn, or Fall, you those of you up North of the equator. For those who start seasons at the equinox rather than the 1st of the month, you’ve still got until the 22nd.

NVDACon

The NVDACon committee are currently busy planning for NVDACon 2020. If you’re interested in presenting at NVDACon, it’s a great time to start thinking about what you might like to share. If you haven’t been to NVDACon before, find out all about it at The NVDACon site. On the site, you can also listen to previous conferences.

Speaking of previous years, here’s a way you can help NVDACon with no public speaking involved. One of the organisers, Derek, is uploading all the previous conferences to YouTube. To make them accessible to all, the plan is to use YouTube’s autocaptioning feature to get started. He is then looking for volunteers to go through and correct any errors in the autocaptioning. If you are interested in helping, please do Email the NVDACon organising committee.

Accessible Graphs

We recently encountered a new accessible graphs project. The output includes audio cues as well as spoken information while navigating. The project is available to anyone to incorporate into their work.

Read more on the Accessible Graphs Project Homepage.

Try their Accessible Stocks and Currencies Demo.

You can also Incorporate Accessible Graphs Python Code directly into your own work.

Accessible Space Station RPG Zine

I like to browse the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and every now and then I come across one with an accessibility angle. This one is a role playing game (RPG), so rather than moving around a board or dealing cards, each player takes the role of a character (on a space station, in this case). Players then decide what actions they want to take, all of which helps affect the way the game progresses. This game also has a solo mode. Like many other RPGs, it comes as an electronic download. While there shouldn’t be any reason such files aren’t accessible, we all know that isn’t always the case. This particular author has put in effort to ensure that the files are screen reader accessible, and is also providing a version optimised for those with dyslexia or low vision. So I thought it was worth a shout out for that. The campaign is in its last 48 hours though so you’ll need to get in quick if you are interested.

Read more on the Orbital Kickstarter Campaign Page.

Making software accessible

I often get asked about making NVDA work with a piece of software. Sometimes there might be something we can do to improve things within NVDA itself. Most of the work of making software accessible is best done by the developer of the software itself. Almost everything involved is simply good software design. These improvements benefit all users of the software, not only screen reader users. It is less work to fix the original software than to have the screen reader try to work around problems. As well as that, improving the original software makes it accessible to all users, not only NVDA users.

There are two parts to making software accessible to screen reader users. One is being able to get around with the keyboard, and the other is having the right information reported.

For keyboard navigation, it is important to have controls in a logical order. At its simplest, this might be when a user moves around with TAB or the ARROWS. Where useful, controls should have keyboard shortcuts or accelerator keys. For instance, consider video call software. It is much more efficient having a shortcut key to answer a call than needing to tab 20 times to get to the answer button.

Most screen reader users don’t use the mouse. Anything which ONLY works with mouse is going to be problematic. A lot of standard controls already work fine with both keyboard and mouse. You can press TAB to move a standard button and press ENTER to activate it. If a shortcut key has been defined, you can press that to activate the button from anywhere on that screen. Many controls have a letter underlined to show that you can press alt and that letter. In a save dialog, for instance, the “Save” button has the “S” underlined. With such a dialog open, you can press alt+s to activate that save button.

With controls such as buttons and edit boxes, it is best to use an existing standard control than create a new one. Pre-defined controls have things like labels, tab control and screen reader accessibility built-in. If you make a new thing you want to act like a button, you can make it accessible, it just tends to be more work. The same is true for combo boxes, edit boxes, checkboxes and so on.

A control with an attached text label, such as a standard checkbox, tells a screen reader all about itself. When creating a custom check box, a lot of this information may need to be setup by hand. This includes what it is (a checkbox), what it is for (the text in the label) and its state (checked or unchecked). Most environments offer properties for controls, such as a “label”, “name” or “description”. Ensure this field is descriptive will make it usable for screen reader users.

NVDA is free for anyone to use. We are quite happy for developers to download it and test it with their programs. Try to navigate your app and use the features of it with the keyboard. NVDA should read enough to tell you where you are at any point. NVDA’s tools menu has a “Speech Viewer” which displays in text what NVDA reads aloud. This can be very useful for anyone unfamiliar with Text-To-Speech (TTS) voices.

That’s all for this week. Stay safe, and we’ll be back again soon!

In-Process 20th August 2020

Gio, 20/08/2020 - 09:13

It’s the 20th of August, which is the 232nd day of the year. Based on how 2020 has gone so far, I calculate there are now only 3 aeons left until the end of the year! So, let’s get right on with some news which is more positive:

Our first Ecuadorian Expert

Last week we published a story on Carlos Esteban Martínez Macías. Carlos is our first NVDA Certified Expert in Ecuador, and, at 15, one of our youngest! The story has received a lot of positive comments and conversation. We wanted to highlight it here for those who haven’t yet had the chance to read it. Indeed, we would call him, Carlos, an ‘Ace’ of Technology in Ecuador.

Carlos Esteban Martínez Macías holding NVDA Certified Expert Certificate and with hand on PC keyboard

If you’re not familiar with the NVDA Certified Expert program, it’s a great way to demonstrate your proficiency with the World’s Favourite Screenreader. The exam itself is challenging, but free for anyone to sit. Once you pass, and want to be recognised as an NVDA Certified Expert, the cost is $100 AUD. That gets you a certificate you can print, and public listing on our NVDA Certified Experts list. Importantly, your support also helps keep NVDA completely free for anyone in the world who needs it.

CSUN 2020 Going Virtual

One of the biggest public events we generally do each year is the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. Held in California, CSUN is one of the world’s largest assistive technology conferences. This year, unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend because of Covid-19. To ensure everyone can attend next year, CSUN have announced the 2021 CSUN Conference is Going Virtual. We look forward to being able to attend again!

After reading the 2021 CSUN Conference Announcement, you can also follow the #CSUNATC21 Hashtag on Twitter to join in the conversation.

NV Access Now Hiring

A reminder that NV Access is seeking to appoint a Full-Time Software Engineer to join our small team. Your work will focus on improving our NVDA screen reading software and related online infrastructure, including feature implementation and bug fixing. You must be an Australian Resident (for tax purposes). We covered some questions on the position in In-Process, 6th August 2020. Go to the NV Access Seeking Software Engineer Job Advertisement for all the details and to apply.

OneCore Improvements

Lately, we’ve been highlighting new features in NVDA 2020.2. If you haven’t yet updated, please do read the full NVDA 2020.2 Release Notes. One new feature is an improvement in performance when using Windows OneCore Voices. Often called OneCore, these voices are the default synthesizer in Windows 10. OneCore has improvements in both performance and clarity over the older SAPI5 voices. If you haven’t tried OneCore in awhile, it is worth another look.

Earlier this year, we added a Rate Boost option to NVDA (in NVDA 2019.3). We highlighted the features of that option in a Video Premiered in In-Process 6th March 2020.

To set your synthesizer, press NVDA+control+s to open the synthesizer dialog. Use the arrow keys to select a synthesizer, and press enter to keep the change and close the dialog.

Speaking of speech, let’s look at a couple of other NVDA voice settings you might not have tried recently.

Synth Settings Ring

The most common voice options for the current synth can be set from the Synth Settings Ring. There is a demonstration of this in the Video on Rate Boost. The keys are slightly different between Desktop and Laptop keyboard layout. I’ll start with the Desktop keyboard layout keys. To move to the next setting in the Synth settings ring, press NVDA+control+right arrow. To move to the previous setting, press NVDA+control+left arrow. Press NVDA+control+up arrow to increase the value of the current setting. Press NVDA+control+down arrow to decrease the value of the current setting. Using Laptop keyboard layout, add shift to those keystrokes. Press NVDA+control+shift+right arrow to move to the next setting, for instance.

When changing to a new synthesizer, this is a great way to get a feel for what options works best for you. If you make a change and don’t like it, or can’t understand the voice, DO NOT QUIT NVDA! Press NVDA+control+r to reset NVDA to the saved settings. Unless you saved the settings specifically, this will revert any unsaved changes. NVDA’s default option is to save changes to settings on exit. So, exiting NVDA when it isn’t working correctly will actually save those changes.

Audio ducking

Audio Ducking is an option which lowers the volume of all other sounds on the computer, to make it easier to hear NVDA. This option can be set so that other sounds “Duck when outputting speech and sounds”. That lowers the sound from other programs only while NVDA is actually speaking. You can set NVDA to “Duck always”, which lowers the volume of everything else whenever NVDA is running at all. The default option is “off” – so NVDA does not adjust the volume of other programs.

You can change between these three settings at any time with NVDA+shift+d. Alternatively, the audio ducking option is available on the Synthesizer Dialog. Note that audio ducking is only available when NVDA is installed, and only on Windows 8 or 10.

Eloquence and Other Synthesizers

NVDA uses OneCore by default on Windows 10, and also comes with eSpeak-NG. If you can’t get either of those just to your liking, remember to check out our Extra Voices page. We have links to many third party synthesizers. Code Factory’s Eloquence and Vocalizer bundle is popular with those coming from other screen readers. Acapela, Nuance Vocalizer, Infovox4 and Next Up’s Ivona are popular with those who want something different. There are also synthesizers designed for specific languages. These include Russian, Mongolian, and south Asian languages. If you know of a synthesizer we haven’t listed, please do Let Us Know.

That’s all for this week, stay safe and well everyone!

Carlos, an ‘Ace’ of Technology in Ecuador

Ven, 14/08/2020 - 07:32

At 15 years old, Carlos Esteban Martínez Macías one of our youngest NVDA Certified Experts. He is also our first NVDA Certified Expert from Ecuador, a South American country between Peru and Colombia.

Carlos shared some of his experiences and plans for the future, and we’re excited to bring them to you, in his own words:

Carlos Esteban Martínez Macías holding his NVDA Certified Expert Certificate and with his hand on PC keyboard

I began to use NVDA in December 2012, when I had 7 years old. The government in Ecuador gave a laptop for the blind people, and these computers had NVDA. Well, I knew that the name is NVDA in March 2013.

I used NVDA all the time in this laptop. In September 2014 this laptop was broke and I return to my first laptop, but now with NVDA. In this time, I don’t use internet and my version of NVDA was 2012.3.1.

In March 2016, I had a new laptop with Windows 10 and my father updated NVDA to the version 2016.1. In the years 2015 and 2016 I read the user guide and the what’s new section. I explored all functions of the NVDA core.

In my opinion, NVDA is the better screen reader for Windows.

In 2017 I began to use internet and began to install add-ons in NVDA. In October and November, I teaches the use of NVDA in a university of my City (Portoviejo), the UTM (Technical University of Manabí, in Spanish “Universidad Técnica de Manabí”) and began to write post in the website of NVDA in Spanish (www.nvda.es). I like help to the users with the use of this screen reader.

NVDA have a very good community. Some users says that NVDA yet need enhancements in Microsoft Office, for example, and the community of developers work always with enhancements, new features and corrections.

Now, NVDA is my first screen reader. I use NVDA in all moments in my laptop, and other commercial products not are necessary. I am 15 years old and use NVDA in the study with Office, in these moments also use NVDA for the videoconferencing of the virtual class. Also, I use NVDA in my house, and I recommend always this screen readers to all users.

Carlos, un ‘As’ de la Technologia (“Carlos, an ‘Ace’ of Technology” from El Diario Newspaper, 30/06/2020

My knowledge about NVDA led me pass the exam NVDA certified expert, and 17/06/2020, I received my certificate. I am the first Ecuadorian that have the certification of NVDA expert. Thanks to NV Access!

Well, after of the school I go to study a career related to music, and also study computing. My objective is to help with accessibility consulting.

Thank you Carlos for sharing your inspirational story!

Carlos is a regular contributor to the Spanish NVDA site, and on mailing lists, including the NVDA mailing list. For Spanish speakers, Carlos can be heard here talking about the use of web applications with NVDA, and in particular Gmail:

https://ivannovegil.cf/podcast-nvdaes/media/2019-10-27_11-cemm.mp3

If all that is not enough, Carlos is also an accomplished pianist. He has been recognised as one of the better classical pianists in Ecuador. So, to finish, here is a video from Facebook of Carlos Esteban Martínez Macías playing Flight of the Bumblebee.

In-Process 6th August 2020

Gio, 06/08/2020 - 10:25

Welcome to August! The big news this time is the release of NVDA 2020.2, so let’s get straight into it:

NVDA 2020.2 Now available

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2020.2 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 support for a new braille display from Nattiq, better support for ESET antivirus GUI and Windows Terminal, performance improvements in 1Password, and with Windows OneCore synthesizer. Plus, many other important bug fixes and improvements.

Read more and download NVDA 2020.2 on the NVDA 2020.2 Release Announcement.

Troubleshooting Update Issues

While we haven’t seen any issues updating to 2020.2, after updating any software, it is a good idea to restart the PC. 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.

After that, if problems persist, do please write to us with a description.

Exciting Employment Opportunity

NV Access is looking to appoint a Full-Time Software Engineer to join our small team. Your work will focus on improving our NVDA screen reading software and related online infrastructure, including feature implementation and bug fixing.

NV Access is a global non-profit organisation, based in Australia, dedicated to the ideal that access to technology should not incur an extra cost for blind and vision impaired users. The purpose of NV Access is to lower the economic and social barriers associated with accessing Information Technology for people who are blind or vision impaired. NV Access develops the free, open source NVDA screen reading software for Microsoft Windows, enabling more than 100,000 blind and vision-impaired people across the globe to access computers.

To apply for this position, you must be classed as “An Australian Resident for tax purposes”, and be prepared to work full time from home with occasional face to face meetings. Please see the full requirements, as well as application information on the NV Access Seeking Software Engineer post.

For those outside Australia

We have had a few questions about the need for Australian residency in our job advertisement. Much as we’d love to be able to cast the net wider, we aren’t able to open applications to non-Australian residents. One of the fantastic things about working for NV Access is working in a small team, able to make a real difference on a product you love. One of the few disadvantages, is that, unlike much larger companies, we don’t have the resources to operate easily across countries. As a relatively small Australian registered charity, we are currently not in a position to easily manage the complex issues across international employment law and logistics, tax laws and obligations, and everything else associated with employing internationally.

“Australian resident for tax purposes” is an Australian Government term. If you are unsure whether you qualify, please find more information on the Australian Taxation Office site.

If that changes in the future, we will publicise it across our channels and in future job postings.

I appreciate it’s no substitute, but if that requirement rules you out, there are other ways you can still contribute to NVDA. Being open source means we can accept input from anyone. There is no restriction on where you are, and we do value our many volunteer contributors around the world. We have a list of open NVDA Issues on GitHub. We are always happy to receive new, well written issues. We also appreciate people investigating and confirming existing reported issues. We also accept pull requests to resolve issues. If you have an idea which might not fit in NVDA core, you might consider creating an add-on for it. See The NVDA Add-ons site for information on add-ons. Finally, we have an active NVDA User Email Group where expertise and help is always welcome (and questions too).

That’s all for this week. Do update to NVDA 2020.2 if you haven’t already. If you have updated, please share how you are finding NVDA 2020.2 In the NVDA User Email Group. And for those applying for the NVDA Software Engineer position, best of luck with your application, and I look forward to working with you soon!

NV Access seeking Software Engineer

Mer, 29/07/2020 - 06:13

Position Title: Software Engineer Use your Python / C++ skills to empower blind and vision-impaired people globally through technology.

  • A great opportunity to gain experience through diverse aspects of a software development organisation
  • Open source development – global, life-changing impact
  • Remote first – Flexible working conditions – work from home

NV Access is a global non-profit organisation, based in Australia, dedicated to the ideal that access to technology should not incur an extra cost for blind and vision impaired users. The purpose of NV Access is to lower the economic and social barriers associated with accessing Information Technology for people who are blind or vision impaired. NV Access develops the free, open source NVDA screen reading software for Microsoft Windows, enabling more than 100,000+ blind and vision-impaired people across the globe to access computers. We are looking to appoint a full-time software developer to join our small team. Your work will focus on improving our NVDA screen reading software and related online infrastructure, including feature implementation and bug fixing.

Technologies we currently use are:

  • Python
  • C++
  • win32, COM, UI Automation
  • SCons, Visual Studio, windbg
  • GitHub, Appveyor
  • VMware
  • Ubuntu server
  • Nginx
  • WSGI, Flask
  • MySQL, PostgreSQL
  • WordPress / PHP

Daily activities in this role will include:

  • Implementation of new features and bug fixes in the NVDA screen reader using Python / C++
  • Implementation of features and bug fixes for the NV Access server infrastructure including WordPress, Flask, and other custom Python code
  • Performing quality assurance for NVDA, including triage, testing, debugging, and determining the cause of bugs either within NVDA or 3rd party software
  • Writing of both end user and technical documentation
  • Maintenance of Continuous Integration infrastructure (currently Appveyor)
  • Increasing our platform coverage for testing NVDA on various versions and SKUs of Windows
  • Working with other software projects to improve accessibility, including filing bug reports, requesting features and submitting patches
  • Assisting with research and development of future projects
  • Planning for and assisting in disaster recovery, including backup and restoration of data, and creation and updating of infrastructure documentation.

Your key attributes will be:

  • A thorough understanding of the Python programming language
  • An understanding of object oriented programming and design
  • Past experience developing on a moderate to large code base
  • Windows development experience
  • An understanding of testing processes and bug isolation
  • Experience with various Virtual Machine packages and services
  • An interest in testing and community engagement
  • Ability to pick up new concepts and technologies quickly and follow agile development methodologies
  • Understanding of / keen interest in accessibility
  • Good communication skills
  • Self motivated
  • Solid grasp of issue tracking and version control
  • Able to communicate with people in different time zones and from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds
  • An understanding of software project management, including triage and planning

Highly desirable attributes are:

  • Experience in C++ development
  • Experience in accessibility development
  • Experience developing with win32 and COM APIs
  • A university degree in information technology (or similar)
  • Past contributions to open source projects
  • Experience developing automated tests and test frameworks
  • Experience with Linux server administration (specifically Ubuntu)
  • Past experience maintaining public-facing server infrastructure

How to Apply:

To apply for this position, you must be classed as “An Australian Resident for tax purposes”, and be prepared to work full time from home with occasional face to face meetings.

Note: All applications must include a resumé as well as a cover letter highlighting your relevant experience, and how it meets the key attributes for the role described above. Email your application to info@nvaccess.org

Contact Us: We are happy to answer any questions you have about this role, please feel free to get in contact by sending an email to info@nvaccess.org.

NVDA 2020.2 Released

Mar, 28/07/2020 - 15:45

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2020.2 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 support for a new braille display from Nattiq, better support for ESET antivirus GUI and Windows Terminal, performance improvements in 1Password, and with Windows OneCore synthesizer. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

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.

Download NVDA 2020.2

To find out what’s new in this release, please visit What’s new in NVDA 2020.2

Close-up photograph of NVDA logo in notification area.

In-Process 20th July 2020

Lun, 20/07/2020 - 05:07

Can you believe we’re already and only halfway through 2020? More importantly, we’re inching ever closer to NVDA 2020.2.

2020.2 Release Candidate

The big news is, NVDA 2020.2 is nearly here! The NVDA 2020.2 Release Candidate is now available. This is a final version for everyone to check to ensure there are no major issues we haven’t yet spotted. All going well, the final release will be in the next few weeks. We’d encourage everyone to download the NVDA 2020.2 Release Candidate and check out the new features! What new features? Well, since we want you to download the RC, I’m going to encourage you to do that, and read the “What’s new” from the help menu! Ok, there’s a link on the NVDA 2020.2 Release Candidate Announcement Page as well.

Modified NVDA Logo with “RC1” text

NVDA Satisfaction Survey

The NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020 is about at an end. If you haven’t filled it in yet, please do take the opportunity before it closes. There are only three questions, and two of them are multiple-choice. Plus, you don’t need to register or log in anywhere, it couldn’t be easier!

Find all the details on the NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020.

Microsoft PowerPoint with NVDA training module

The other big news this week is that we’ve released a new training module! Microsoft PowerPoint with NVDA is now available. This module covers all the features to make your presentations a hit. From adding content to a slide through to setting slide timings. Adding live captions and presenting online are all covered. It’s available for the same low price as our other electronic training modules from the NV Access shop. It’s also now included in the updated NVDA Productivity Bundle.

Cover page for Microsoft PowerPoint for NVDA by NV Access. Title in purple and white on turquoise. NV Access logo in purple.

Training module pricing

We have made a small increase to our prices, the first in the four years we’ve been selling training material in the https://www.nvaccess.org/shop/. This is in line with the increased cost of production that we have experienced over that time. The increase is $2 Australian for each of the electronic modules. The increase is $3 for the Basic Training for NVDA Downloadable Audio. We have kept the price of the Basic Training for NVDA Braille material steady at $65 AUD, including worldwide shipping.

For the electronic text, including the new Microsoft PowerPoint with NVDA module, $32 AUD converts to just over $22 USD. That is just under €20 or just under £18 according to Google this morning.

We have also made some changes to the NVDA Productivity Bundle. We have added the PowerPoint module to it, and decreased the number of support hours to 3. That has resulted in a decrease in cost, bringing the bundle down to just $199 Australian. So you now get the 5 training module eBooks plus 3 hours of telephone support at a discounted price of $199.

Finally on pricing for those who have previously purchased the productivity bundle. If you would like to add Microsoft PowerPoint with NVDA to your collection of modules, we would love to give you 50% off the price. It’s not automatic, so please do Contact Us to take advantage of that offer.

Thanks for believing in us!

We’d like to take the opportunity this week to thank Intopia, who continue to be a generous supporter of NV Access. They are a great believer in our mission to lower the economic and social barriers associated with accessing Information Technology for people who are Blind or Vision Impaired. Did you know you can find our story, our statement of purpose and our organisational structure on our website? All this and more is on the “About NV Access” page.

There’s even a description of the NV Access logo and the Sunburst design. From the About NV Access page:

The NV Access logo could broadly be described as “sun-shaped”, using the colours purple, turquoise and orange.

The NV Access logo is a hollow purple sun shape with 16 points. 8 points are sharp and triangular, coloured in purple. The purple points alternate between either orange or turquoise rounded points. Inside the circle of the sun is a purple diamond outline, and in the centre is a hollow turquoise ring.

To the right of the logo are the words “NV Access” above the tag-line “Empowering lives through non-visual access to technology”. The text “NV” is in orange and the rest of the text is in purple. There is a purple horizontal line in the centre, between the company name and tag-line.

The sun logo itself is about a third of the total width, with “NV Access” in large text and the tag-line smaller.

That’s the NV Access logo, but what is the Sunburst design? You’ll have to read the About NV Access page to find out!

Bonus points to those who find the description of the NVDA logo. Hint: It’s not on the “About NV Access” page, but not far away…

That’s all for this week. Do try the NVDA 2020.2 Release Candidate and let us know how you find it. If you haven’t completed the NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020, please consider adding your voice. And while you wait for the final 2020.2 release, why not take the opportunity to build on your Microsoft PowerPoint with NVDA skills! Catch you next time.

NVDA 2020.2rc1 available for testing

Mer, 15/07/2020 - 13:00

The Release Candidate (RC) of NVDA 2020.2 is now available for download and testing. We encourage all users to download this RC and provide feedback. Unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2020.2 release.

Highlights of this release include support for a new braille display from Nattiq, better support for ESET antivirus GUI and Windows Terminal, performance improvements in 1Password, and with Windows OneCore synthesizer. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

In-Process 25th June 2020

Gio, 25/06/2020 - 10:56

The release of NVDA 2020.2 is edging ever closer. Let’s start with all the details on the new NVDA 2020.2 Beta:

NVDA 2020.2 Beta 2

Text “BETA 2” in turquoise over a dark background on top of the white on purple NVDA logo.

One of the first big public steps in the lead up to a new NVDA version is the Beta release. This version contains most of the code destined for the final release. The main point of the beta release is to get more people using updated features before the final version. This helps us pick up on any issues before the official, stable build comes out. As well as helping test new code, it’s also a great chance to get a “sneak peek’ at what is coming up in NVDA! Although the beta is a pre-release version, it behaves the same as a regular version of NVDA. The launcher is the same when you run it. So, you can install the beta, create a portable version or continue running the temporary copy).

We often release several beta versions while bugs are fixed, translations updated and so on. As this post is published we are at NVDA 2020.2 Beta 2.

The Release Announcement For The Beta has all the key information and download links. Highlights of this release include support for a new braille display from Nattiq, better support for ESET antivirus GUI and Windows Terminal, performance improvements in 1Password, and with Windows OneCore synthesizer.

Big Beta Bug Bash

In recent versions, we haven’t had as many people using the beta builds as we would hope. This is reflected in the number of times we have had to release a “.1” build after a “stable” release.

A small ugly purple and orange bug

So, let’s have a Big Beta Bug Bash! Anyone who documents a new bug from the beta, gets a voucher for 10% off a training module from the shop. That includes for the soon to be released PowerPoint training module! The rules are simple:

  • You have to file a GitHub issue, with a new (not duplicate of a previous) issue
  • The issue has to include a log, at debug level, from the current (at the time) beta version
  • The issue has to be correctly filled out, with steps to reproduce, system info, etc
  • Limit one voucher per person (No limit on number of bugs you can submit though)

One difference between Beta and RC builds is beeping for errors. When NVDA encounters an error, as well as being recorded in the log, the Beta version will play an error sound to alert you. The Release Candidate (and final stable version) do not beep. Often, when encountering an error, NVDA will try something else to achieve what it was trying to do. In this case, if the fall back plan works, an end-user may not notice any problem. That is why, when using a beta version, you may hear an error sound, even though nothing seems amiss. Whether participating in the Big Beta Bug Bash or not, please do let us know of any errors you encounter. We are especially keen to hear when things don’t work as expected. That will give us a chance to investigate before the final version comes out.

Once we are confident the beta is working well and ready for prime time, the next step is a “Release Candidate”. The Beta version will prompt to update to any further beta builds, and to the RC build when it comes out. The Beta and RC builds will also prompt to update to the final version when it is released.

Once again, please do go to the NVDA 2020.2 Beta 2 Release Announcement to download the beta, then do let us know how you find it.

Password managers

One of the highlights coming up in 2020.2 is performance improvements in 1Password. 1Password is a popular password manager. For those who aren’t familiar with them, I thought it was worth covering a bit about password managers.

Almost every site or service we use requires a password. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to have strong, secure passwords. It is also important to avoid using the same password on many services. One of the best ways of doing that is with a password manager. A password manager is a program which keeps track of all the passwords for all your services. Many password managers can automatically fill in your login details when you go to a site they know. A lot of these apps are “cross-platform”, so they can sync your passwords between say your PC and your phone.

1Password is one such password manager. If you decide to try it out, you can find out more information at https://1password.com/

Because of the recent improvements, we recommend using 1Password with NVDA 2020.2 Beta 2. There are many other accessible password managers out there. This question comes up regularly in the NVDA Users Email Group. Previously, as well as 1password, other suggestions included Bitwarden, KeePass and Last Pass. If you are happy keeping your data in your browser without a third-party program, that is possible too. Both Chrome (and most Chromium-based browsers) and Firefox have built-in password managers. Which works best for you will depend on your personal preferences and what features you want. Do join in the conversation on Twitter and let us know what your favourite is!

Kickstarter for an accessible digital card game

I saw this posted on Facebook, and I know games are always popular. I don’t know anything more on this one but thought I’d share it so anyone interested can express interest:

“There’s a digital card game being worked on, we’re looking at having a fully open demo in roughly a week. There’s a Kickstarter For Cards Of Yore. If anyone is interested in checking it out, showing interest so investors know just how many people would want to play such a game if funded and produced. The game is accessible for certain with NVDA”.

Kickstarter is a platform where people put forward a project they would like to create. If others like the idea, they can pledge money. The money then goes towards bringing the project to life. When ready, creators send the backers whatever was promised for the amount pledged. So it’s not a store as such, but for successful projects, can be a way of being one of the first to get something new. Kickstarter is an all or nothing setup. The creator states up front how much they need for the project and what they will do with the funds. If people pledge enough to reach that goal, the project gets funded. Otherwise, it doesn’t cost anything.

NV Access is not affiliated with either Kickstarter, or Cards Of Yore (this particular project). I just saw it on Facebook and thought I’d share it.

Lastly for this week, a quick mention that the NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020 is still open. As a key tool we use to gauge user sentiment, we’d love as many responses as possible. If you haven’t already, please do complete the survey. We addressed some early issues, so if you had any issues previously, please do try again. Also, please try NVDA 2020.2 Beta 2 and remember to join in the Big Beta Bug Bash.

NVDA 2020.2beta2 Available for Testing

Mar, 23/06/2020 - 16:13

Beta2 of NVDA 2020.2 is now available for download and testing. For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

Changes from Beta1:

  • Updated translations for many languages
  • Small corrections to the changes file.
  • No longer speak “object replacement character”
  • Adds Ukrainian computer Braille table

Highlights of this release include support for a new braille display from Nattiq, better support for ESET antivirus GUI and Windows Terminal, performance improvements in 1Password, and with Windows OneCore synthesizer. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

NVDA 2020.2beta1 Available for Testing

Gio, 18/06/2020 - 00:59

Beta1 of NVDA 2020.2 is now available for download and testing. For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

Highlights of this release include support for a new braille display from Nattiq, better support for ESET antivirus GUI and Windows Terminal, performance improvements in 1Password, and with Windows OneCore synthesizer. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

In-Process 11th June 2020

Gio, 11/06/2020 - 04:03

This week we have a community demonstration of NVDA’s Screen curtain, a guide to browse and focus modes, and lots more. Let’s get into it!

NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020 Last time around we launched the NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020. We’ve had some great feedback from users who have already completed the survey on how they feel about NVDA. We’d love to capture even more of your thoughts. Please do continue to Fill In The Survey.

We’ve also addressed a small issue a couple of users encountered. If you had problems earlier, please do try again.

NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020

Screen Curtain

In NVDA 2019.3, we debuted a new Screen Curtain Feature. The feature had existed in an add-on but it was something many users were happy to see built-in to NVDA itself. If you still have the add-on, you can remove it in NVDA 2019.3 or later.

If you’re wondering what screen curtain does, one of our users has you covered there too. Greg Keefe has made a Video Demonstrating Screen Curtain.

Greg runs a YouTube channel called “The Blind Guy Show”. Greg’s demo of screen curtain is just one of the videos on that channel. One of his other videos which is well worth watching, demonstrates how he uses the audio editor Audacity with NVDA.

In The Media

We try to include articles, blogs, and other media about NVDA, such as Greg’s channel, here in In-Process. We also have a page dedicated to such links. We call the page “In The Media”.

The most recent links are also included under the featured NVDA Story on our News Page.

If you’ve seen an article, blog, video or other media about NVDA, do please Get In Touch And Let Us Know.

Focus and Browse modes

We often get asked about NVDAs “Modes”, so let’s take a look at the main ones. The two main modes NVDA use are Focus mode and Browse mode. Focus mode is used when editing text, such as in Word or Notepad, or when typing into a text edit field in your browser. Browse mode is used when reading text. It is automatically used on the web when not in an edit field. Browse mode lets you use single letter navigation, such as H for heading, T for table or D for landmark. You can find a list of single letter navigation keys in the NVDA User Guide.

On the web, NVDA can automatically switch between focus and browse mode when moving between read-only content and form fields. To set when NVDA switches between browse and focus mode, open NVDA’s Browse Mode Settings. Press NVDA+control+b to open this dialog directly. As well as the “Automatic Focus Mode for…” options, there are some others worth pointing out. “Automatic say all on page load” controls whether NVDA reads out the page as soon as it loads. “Audio indication of focus and browse modes” sets whether NVDA plays a sound (an ‘earcon’) when changing modes. If this option is disabled, NVDA speaks “Browse mode” or “Focus mode” as it switches.

On a form field, you can switch back to browse mode by pressing escape. You can switch back to focus mode with enter. To also force NVDA to switch between Browse mode and Focus mode press NVDA+spacebar. When changing modes with NVDA+spacebar, NVDA will no longer automatically change again while on that page. NVDA+spacebar is useful on forms which have passages of text between form fields. Forcing focus mode on such a page stops the page switching back and forth and can be less distracting. It is also useful in Microsoft Word to use browse mode single letter navigation commands or the elements list.

All of these commands and keystrokes are in the User Guide. If you aren’t already familiar with how they work, we’d recommend “Basic Training for NVDA” which is available in The NV Access Shop in a range of formats.

That’s all for this week. Do please Complete The NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2020, stay safe and we’ll be back again soon.