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Empowering lives through non-visual access to technology
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In-Process 2nd December 2020

Mer, 02/12/2020 - 11:26

We’re now in the last month of 2020! The big news this week is NVDACon, which is this weekend. Depending on your time zone, it will either be this coming Friday and Saturday, or Saturday and Sunday. We’ve got full coverage to get you up to speed in this dedicated pre-NVDACon edition of In-Process, so let’s get into it:

First of all, what is NVDACon?

From the NVDACon website,

“NVDACon is an annually held online conference of users, testers, developers, translators and other beneficiaries of the free, open source and community-driven NVDA screen reader.”

At NVDACon, there are:

“opportunities to network with fellow NVDA users, learn about related projects, discover how you can optimize the usage of your favorite software with NVDA and hear from and interact directly with the gentlemen behind this life-changing screen reader”

Key NVDACon links

The main NVDACon website is at: https://www.nvdacon.org/

You can find the 2020 Program and Schedule at: https://www.nvdacon.org/2019-program-and-schedule (don’t mind the 2019 in the URL, it’s the right page). Conveniently, the times on the program are automatically converted to your local timezone.

All the info on how to join NVDACon is on the “How to Join Us” page: https://www.nvdacon.org/how-to-join-us

You can also keep up with NVDACon on social media:

and

Thunder Clap Tweets

Now you know what NVDACon is and how to find it, a quick announcement about how you can still contribute. Robert Hänggi, the chair this year, is still accepting “Thunder Clap Tweets”. What is a Thunder Clap Tweet? I’m glad you asked! From the original call for topics, Thunder Clap Tweets are:

“Short news that are about 30 seconds each and that are compiled into a 15 minutes news feed.”

Ideal for promoting your new add-ons or to keep the community updated on new features.

If you’d like to submit a Thunder Clap Tweet, you do need to get in ASAP. Email Robert at info@nvdacon.org with your idea!

How NVDACon started

At NV Access, we are all proud of NVDACon. One aspect we are particularly proud of our community for, is that NVDACon was not organised by NV Access. The community decided this was something THEY wanted, and so they organised it. NV Access are enthusiastic supporters of NVDACon, but it the community who run it. Being invited to deliver the NVDACon keynote is a highlight of our year. We look forward to engaging with many of you there.

Recently in In-Process, we’ve been sharing memories from previous NVDACons. The November 20 In-Process features a link to The First NVDACon keynote. Prompted by this, Joseph Lee this week shared his memory of the beginnings of NVDACon. From the idea of a conversation, to how it grew to the international event that so many now look forward to. As a founder of NVDACon, Joseph’s musings are a worthy read for anyone passionate about NVDA and history.

From Joseph’s email to the NVDA user email list:

“More than three years ago, I wrote a blog post that describes how NVDACon actually came to be, including the planning involved in getting the 2014 keynote going. Among all things that have happened in NVDA community, NVDACon is one of my top two personal favorites (the other one is add-ons). Although the post is an analysis of NVDACon 2017 from the NVDACon founder’s perspective, it is equally applicable to 2020 edition”

Read Joseph Lee’s original blog post remembering the history of NVDACon.

Thanks Joseph for that behind the scenes look at the beginnings of this amazing event!

The Art of Sound Design, with Justin MacLeod

One of the presenters at NVDACon 2020 is Justin MacLeod, a sound designer who relies on NVDA daily. NVDA provides access to employment, entertainment, and communication with others as well. NV Access had the opportunity to catch up with Justin and we are pleased to share this with you. Justin shares his thoughts on how he uses NVDA, his workflow, and what he will cover at NVDACon. There’s also an audio challenge in the Interview! Listen to the interview and read the full transcript.

The Art of Sound Design intro screen

Justin’s NVDAcon presentation, “Sound Designer at Work” is at 1pm UTC on Saturday December 6th.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to tune in to NVDACon on the weekend. Be sure to check out “How to Join Us” and the 2020 Program and Schedule to get the most out of the weekend!

The Art of Sound Design

Mer, 02/12/2020 - 11:13

Justin MacLeod is an NVDA user, a sound designer and an NVDACon presenter. He spoke with Quentin about these things and more. The interview is available as a video, with the transcript of the conversation below that.

Justin MacLeod is a sound designer who relies on NVDA to access his computer. Before he tells us what that involves, he has set us a little challenge. Justin has disguised NVDA with various vocal processes. There is a sample phrase inserted in several places (in the video). See if you can guess which synthesizer he is using. Stay tuned for the answer, and I should add, the sound effects are Justin’s, but I added the backing music and edited the interview.

Justin MacLeod thank you for joining us.

A pleasure to be here thank you for inviting me.

You’re welcome. Now Justin tell us a little about what you do?

So, I’m a sound designer, which means that I record, create and arrange sound effects for various purposes. Either I compile sound effects for distribution for other people to use, or I arrange them in audio dramas for media, like games and so on.

It’s quite a diverse job which I really like, and I’m often on the go. I take my laptop here there and everywhere. I also socialize on a number of TeamTalk servers, read a lot, basically I use my computer for everything. I play on my computer, I work on my computer, I connect with other people on my computer, and so obviously a screenreader is a really important part of that.

Text “I use my computer for everything. I play, work, connect with other people on my computer, and so obviously, a screenreader is a really important part of that.” in purple on turquoise.

So you use NVDA. How long have you been using NVDA for?

Ooh, I’ve been using NVDA I think for 5 or 6 years now. I used to use Window eyes and they changed it in huge ways. It felt to me like learning a new screenreader, and I wasn’t really liking it and I was struggling with it and I was like you know what, I’m just going to switch to NVDA because it’s free and it’s there. That’s one of the things I really like about NVDA. It’s really easy to get on your computer when you’re starting up. I think that’s one of the things I like most about NVDA, it’s very hard to break and very easy to recover.

By which I mean if there are, if you’re system crashes, if you press control+alt+n, I love that NVDA will always come back which I’ve never had with a screenreader that I’ve used before. So, it’s got great kind of get out of trouble resilience, which I really enjoy.

I also like and I think maybe you’ve fixed this even better in the latest update. I also like that and I’m doing this very frequently in my work. How if you change your default sound device or you do something unexpected with your sound device configuration, again you can get NVDA back. Perhaps NVDA leaps of to a place that doesn’t have output to a thing you can hear, that happens to me quite often, but I think with a simple control+alt+n. I think there’s another keystroke you can do as well as well to revert to the saved configuration….

NVDA+control+r

I thought it was that I love how it will be right back in your headphones. I have noticed how when I change the sound device since the NVDA update, it doesn’t even get confused, it doesn’t even break at all so I love NVDA’s resilience, I think that is absolutely essential. Because once your screenreader stops, your whole access to the machine breaks. It could be something as simple as you need to press ok or you need to press end process but if you are deprived of your screenreader then the computer is as good as dead. And for a similar reason I like that NVDA is right there on the windows logon screen as well. I never had that before. So it really, I can bounce back from trouble. And I get myself in a lot of trouble, so loving NVDA for that.

Text: “I love NVDA’s resilience, I think that is absolutely essential. Because once your screenreader stops, your whole access to the machine breaks.” in white on purple.

Excellent, that’s great to hear thank you.

Now Justin, as well as getting yourself out of trouble with NVDA, you teach others as well.

So I also, when I’m not sound designing, I teach. So I teach Reaper, which is a multi-track audio editor and sequencer, I teach that both in 1:1 settings and in group settings. I used to be an instructor for the Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired, which means actually I think I’ve been using NVDA I think even longer than I said. And You can route it very easily, as I kind of just aluded to to any audio device you want. SO I can route it to an audio device that everyone can hear. And that’s really invaluable, because then people can not only hear what you are explaining and hear the results of what you are doing, the sounds you are creating or what you are editing etc but they can also hear the speech feedback you get as you progress through those steps. So I do find that versatility and that valuable kind of demonstration tool. I have also been known to use eSpeak as a way of demonstrating how good certain vocal processes are. So one project I was working on was to disguise eSpeak’s voice with various vocal processes and see if people can guess if it was eSpeak, so that was kind of fun. That’s right, it was eSpeak that Justin had disguised. How did you go? Did you guess it, or could you not pass?

We have our big yearly NVDACon online conference coming up this weekend. Between the 4th and the 6th of December, depending on your timezone. Justin, you’re going to be a part of that, tell us more?

So I’ll be showing you a bit of my workflow, how I edit using NVDA and how I find my way around Reaper. There are various things. I don’t want to give away too much but there are various little tricks that are, in my experience of screenreaders anyway, pretty unique to NVDA. and very easy to toggle. The way it monitors progress bars for instance, is really useful because NVDA reads meters, like sound level meters as progress bars, so the higher the beep the louder the incoming sound, or the higher something is jumping or indeed the higher percentage value spoken depending on how you have things set, and there are some really useful applications for that which people might not have thought of.

Sounds fantastic, I always like finding new software tips. We do endeavour to make NVDA’s interface as simple to navigate as possible but also offer customisation and flexibility for those, like yourself, who do like to tweak things.

And It is really nice to have that flexibility and just the way that you can access that. Just control+NVDA+s and then you mess around in dialogs and you’re pointing NVDA to this device and that device and picking this synthesizer and that synthesizer and what I love is, for each synthesizer the changes that you make to rate and volume, per speech engine, they stick, even you don’t have to say this and save that, they just stick. They all talk to the speech engine settings nicely so I can set this and it’s nice and slow for people to hear, or I can set that and it’s nice and quick and nice and quiet. For me, so it’s very quick it’s very responsive, it’s very light on resources, it does a lot of things, a lot of different things that I need it to do, very quickly.

Text: “It’s very quick, it’s very responsive, it’s very light on resources. it does a lot of different things that I need it to do, very quickly.” in white on purple.

I think you’ve done a really good job with the interface, I think it is customizable, but that customisability is tucked away. But I love how there’s shortcuts for most of the important things. I love adjusting the punctuation level, and things like that it’s really useful so that’s pretty good. I like how all the minutiae and there is quite a bit of minutiae, I love how that is all tucked away.

At the end of the day, I feel like a screenreader should be like breathing and you know your heart beating I feel like you shouldn’t notice it, it should just be your window to the world without being fancy, without kind of drawing attention to itself which is actually, interestingly often what a sound designer is trying to do. If someone listens to a film and says “Hey that’s a great sound effect, I wonder how they made that?” then the sound designer has actually kind of failed, because it should be kind of seamlessly integrated into the experience and I think a good screenreader is that as well and I think NVDA does that really well.

Text: “I feel that a screenreader should be like breathing. You shouldn’t notice it. and I think NVDA does that really well.” in purple on white with an orange border.

So what I also like about NVDA is the addons the third party developers can make and I think by far the most useful one for me is NVDARemote. Which is sort of the NVDA’s community answer to team viewer and that’s really good when one of my students gets into trouble I can just like nip into their machine quickly and fix stuff, so it’s a remote access solution like team viewer like tandem, like and the remote access stuff that comes for sighted people with your machine, and people have nipped into my machine as well and fixed stuff and that is a really good way of especially in this age of social distancing and when the world is getting smaller anyway it’s a really good way if you’re stuck, if you can’t get out, if you don’t have people who can help you nearby or if you don’t want to pay $250 to get your local computer dealer to fix stuff, if you trust the person you are remoting with it’s a really good way to get yourself back up and running quickly.

It certainly is.

Justin where can we find your work?

You can find me on Twitter @SkyCladSound that’s my brand name, I did some of the sound design for audio wizards so if you want a flavour of my work in context, check that out I’m also https://soundcloud.com/skycladsound ah if you’re more interested in tuition, if you’d like to do some of this stuff yourself, if you’re an up and coming musician, if you want to make podcasts, if you want to make sound effects etc, you’ll find me a frequent poster on the Reapers without Peepers list. I also frequently contribute to Zapsplat, writing both blog articles not written a blog article for awhile but I’ve written a lot of blog articles on there, that’s a place where you can get very affordable professional sound effects and there are some of my sound effects up there. In the authors section under skycloudsound and indeed under Justin McLoud where I before I got my brand so I’m kind of scattered all over the place but a you will find me.

Fanstatic thank you. Well Justin MacLeod it’s been great to speak to you. Don’t forget to join in to NVDACon on TeamTalk this. I’ve put the links below. If you go to NVDACon.org and then the “2020 Program and Schedule” link, you will find all the session times, including Justin’s, conveniently presented in your local timezone.

Looking forward to it, see you there.

Thank you, see you there.

In-Process 20th November 2020

Ven, 20/11/2020 - 07:06

Now that NVDA 2020.3 has been out for a while and well received, we are working towards the next release on NVDA. In fact, work on that started well before NVDA 2020.3 was even released. We are not quite up to a beta version yet this week. So, it’s an excellent opportunity for another longer walkthrough we don’t always have room for. This time, some tips on using object navigation to get the most info in Windows 10s settings. First though, NVDACon:

NVDACon 2020

We are now a fortnight away from NVDACon 2020! Robert and the team have a heap of great things lined up for us. First, an exciting announcement! The Keynote speech will once again be translated into Spanish. There are also new presentation formats and talks. Importantly, there are lots of opportunities to meet and chat with fellow NVDA users.

In In-Process recently, I have been sharing memories from NVDA’s past. So, for my NVDACon memory this week, I thought I’d go right back to the early days of NVDACon. NVDACon 2014 was the first NVDACon, held on 1st March 2014. Initially conceived as a biennial event, there were two NVDACons held in 2014 and again in 2015. The recordings are available on: https://www.nvdacon.org/past-conferences

For a bit of a trip down memory lane then, here is the NVDACon Keynote from six years ago.

Using object navigation in Windows settings

Windows 10s settings have a lot more options than many people realise. Not all these options are easy to navigate. While you can use tab and the arrow keys to get around settings, this can skip some information which can be important.

There are several ways to open Windows settings. You can open settings with WINDOWS+i. The focus stars in an edit box where you can search for a setting, or you can tab through the major categories. Alternatively, press the WINDOWS key and type the name of the desired setting. For instance, “Make everything bigger” or “wifi settings”.

Let’s have a look at Wi-Fi settings now:

  1. Press WINDOWS+i to open settings. The focus starts in a “Find a setting” search edit
  2. Press TAB to move to the list of settings
  3. Press the RIGHT ARROW to move to “Network and Internet”
  4. Press ENTER to load the Network and Internet settings
  5. Press TAB to move to the search edit, “List, Status 1 of 8”. This is a list of sections in the network and internet settings, with Status being the first section
  6. Press TAB again to move to the “Properties” button
  7. NVDA reads the name of the network. There was other information above this button on the screen which wasn’t read. Press NVDA’s “Move to previous object” command to move back through the items. This command is NVDA+numpad 4 if using NVDA in desktop layout. The keystroke is NVDA+shift+left arrow if using NVDA in laptop keyboard layout. NVDA reads the total amount of traffic over this network in the last 30 days. That is, how much data your PC has downloaded or uploaded over this Wi-Fi network in the last month.

  8. Next, press TAB to move to the “Data usage” button
  9. Press ENTER to load the data usage by app for the current network
  10. Press TAB to move through the options. The focus moves past “network”, “enter limit button”, “Reset usage statistics button”, and “Get help”, to “Give feedback”
  11. The network is a list of available networks, with the current network selected. Under this drop-down is text explaining that a data limit can be set. This is useful if you have a limited data plan for your Wi-Fi. Note that the limit set here only applies to data used by THIS PC. Data used by other devices on this Wi-Fi network is not counted here. From the “enter limit” button, use the “Move to previous object” command to read the explanatory text.

    From the enter limit button, use the “Move to next object” command to move through a list of apps. Each app is followed by the amount of data used by each in the past month. The highest usage is at the top.

  12. Finally, press ALT+F4 to close settings

That’s all for this week. Until next time, stay safe and well, and Let Us Know on Twitter what new Windows settings you explore!

In-Process 6th November 2020

Ven, 06/11/2020 - 07:59

Welcome to November! We’ve continued to get great feedback on NVDA 2020.3. Users appreciate the stability and performance improvements, and new and updated features. First off this time though, let’s go to Russia:

NVDA Certification in Russia

Anatoliy Popko is a well-known Russian accessibility expert. Recently, Quentin had the opportunity to Chat with Anatoliy and find out about some of the exciting projects he is involved with.

The video is a little longer than some of our other pieces, but it’s a fascinating story. It was great to hear about the work they are doing in Russia, and how integral NVDA Certification has been to their training. Read the Transcript or Watch the Video of NVDA Certification in Russia.

Wherever you are in the world, if Anatoliy’s story has inspired your becoming an NVDA Certified Expert, we’d love to have you on the list!

Visit https://certification.nvaccess.org/ to find out more. Sitting the certification test is free and without obligation. If you would like to purchase your certificate once you pass, you are most welcome to do so.

If you feel you would like to prepare a bit more before sitting the exam, we would recommend studying the “Basic Training for NVDA” module. There is nothing in the exam which is only documented in Basic Training for NVDA, but just about everything in the exam is covered in the module. Basic Training for NVDA is available in Human-Read MP3 Audio, Hardcopy UEB Braille or Electronic Text.

Text: “There is a trend, a very noticeable one, to move from commercial screen reader solutions to NVDA”, in purple on a white block, on an orange background.

NVDACon 2020 NVDACon is rapidly approaching with exactly one month to go. There is still an opportunity to Submit an NVDACon Presentation idea and the organisers would love to hear from you.

Digging through the old NVDACon archives in the 23rd October Edition of In-Process was fun, so I’ve had another look this week. This week, I’ve found an NVDACon memory from last year, a Lightning Talk by Minako Nonogaki of Japan. She is presenting a demonstration of the Orbit Reader Braille display with NVDA.

Lightning talks like Minako’s are usually between 15 – 30 minutes, so presenting doesn’t have to be an hour long session. In fact, you can even go as short as a 30 second “Thunder Clap”. Are you an add-on developer, or a user with a great tip to share? Even a quick Thunder Clap would be a great way to quickly share your news with the NVDA Community. Get in Touch with the NVDACon Organisers to Express your Interest.

NVDA’s Document Formatting Settings

There are a couple of new features in NVDA 2020.3 on NVDA’s document formatting settings screen. So what are these settings, and how do you use them?

NVDA’s Document Formatting screen lets you set what information is reported when reading a document. This can include changes in the font, text size, or paragraph alignment. Reporting of features such as lists, headings, and links can also be enabled or disabled. Note that when this formatting information is not reported, the underlying text is still read. Similarly, Single Letter Navigation Keys such as L for list, i for list item, H or 2 for headings or K for links still jump to those elements. To highlight the difference, I thought I’d use Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia. In Wikipedia, virtually very sentence is dotted with links to other articles. Following the links from article to article can be a fascinating and informative read. Here is how the start of today’s “On This Day” section of the main page reads by default:

heading level 2 On this day link November 6 : link Gustavus Adolphus Day in Estonia, Finland and Sweden ( link 1632 ); link Finnish Swedish Heritage link Day in Finland link graphic George Eliot George Eliot list with 5 items link 447 – A powerful earthquake destroyed large portions of the link Walls of Constantinople , including 57 towers.

NVDA’s Document Formatting settings control which of those elements are reported. In the paragraph there was a heading, a list, a graphic and a number of links. If we disabled each of those, and read the text again, NVDA would read:

On this day November 6 : Gustavus Adolphus Day in Estonia, Finland and Sweden ( 1632 ); Finnish Swedish Heritage Day in Finland George Eliot 447 – A powerful earthquake destroyed large portions of the Walls of Constantinople , including 57 towers.

The text reads more smoothly, but it is not clear where links are, or the list, or that “George Eliot” is an image. (further down in the list of events, it notes that her first story was submitted for publication on this day in 1856).

To enable or disable options in NVDA’s document formatting settings, press NVDA+control+d to open the Document Formatting settings. Or, open NVDA’s settings and press CONTROL+TAB to the “Document” page. New in NVDA 2020.3 is the ability to toggle reporting of graphics, and also highlighted text in web browsers.

That’s all for this week. Do keep Letting Us Know how you are going with NVDA 2020.3. Until next time, stay safe and well!

NVDA in Russia

Gio, 05/11/2020 - 12:23

Anatoliy Popko is a well-known Russian accessibility expert. Recently, Quentin had the opportunity to chat with him and find out about some of the exciting projects he is involved with. The interview is available as a video, with the transcript of the conversation below that.

Quentin: Anatoliy Popko, tell me a little bit about yourself

Anatoliy: Well the difficult part about that question is a little bit. 38, totally blind, NVDA user for last 4 years plus something. And I’ve been always very loud and articulate about the accessibility, digital accessibility here in Russia. I live in Moscow; I am one of the co-authors of Russian digital accessibility standards. We took WCAG 2.1 and basically translated it into Russian and there now since April 1st, 2020, it was enacted. So, it is an official document now, and I take a little bit of pride that I was a tiny part of that accessibility movement. And, of course, I help Russian charities to run various projects related to blind and vision impaired users. And one of them does require NVDA certification, so that is cool.

Quentin: That is cool. So why are you using NVDA certification? What do you have Russian certified NVDA users for?

Anatoliy: Well, actually, there is a very strong Russian speaking community of blind and vision impaired users. There is a trend, a very noticeable one, to move from commercial screen reader solutions to NVDA. So, I would assume, I don’t have any exact figures, but my estimation is that NVDA is the primary screen reader for the majority of the Russian blind computer windows computer users.

Text: “There is a trend, a very noticeable one, to move from commercial screen reader solutions to NVDA”, in purple on a white block, on an orange background.

There is a fund, and the fund is called Arts science and sports. And one of its programs or subdivisions is called special view. Those wonderful ladies behind special view. They came to me and tried to address me with a question if there is anything that I would do, having the resources, for blind and vision impaired community in Russia, and especially in terms of computer skills, so to say. And yes, I came up with the idea to actually unite a few prominent Russian IT trainers, because I know a lot of them throughout Russia and to start one on one distance learning sessions trying to actually expand the current level of expertise and knowledge of using the technology. Because you know I also run the dialog in the dark project and I really hate it when blind people avoid using various technology which they could have been using. But they just avoid it for some reasons that they don’t know how to use it and that really decreases their performance and that annoys me enormously. I just think that something needs to be done about that

Quentin: You said NVDA is now the most popular screenreader in Russia. Do you know why that is? Is it a cost issue?

Anatoliy: One of the major issues, it is cost related, yes. NVDA is actually a good product. It has updates, three or four updates per year. It runs fast, and there’s really no point in not using it. That’s the key I guess.

NVDA is actually a good product… It runs fast, and there’s really no point in not using it.

Quentin: You mentioned the Dialog in the Dark. Tell me a little bit more about Dialog in the Dark.

Anatoliy: Dialog in the Dark has a few formats. So one of them is business workshops, where sighted persons are taking to the complete darkness, and they conduct a real business workshop to develop their soft skills, so that is the key objective. And another type of events is exhibition. So, there is a specially darkened space. Sighted people enter it and of course they instantly stop seeing, stop relying on their vision, which usually provides up to 80 or more percent of the information about their surroundings. So then they have to cope anyhow with the reality. While in exhibition they go from one location to the other and then the locations may vary a lot. So there is a street, there’s a park, there is a summer house, there is a maybe a short trip on a boat with real water outside and they go to some bar buy some soda or snacks, and that is an hour long journey. Once they come out they have a chance to talk to the blind guide, their guide, to ask whatever questions might arise out of their experience and that is also something very important as a as important as personal experience can be.

Quentin: Fantastic, and you’re also involved in G3ICT’s Smart Cities for All.

Anatoliy: A little bit, yes. Because I’m trying to push Russian IT community for greater digital accessibility, and those efforts were recognised by G3ICT and smart cities for all program and they approached me and asked if I would be willing to take my efforts on the next level. I happily agreed, and after the interview, they accepted me in their country representatives. So I am representing Russia.

I’m trying to push Russian IT community for greater digital accessibility, and those efforts were recognised by G3ICT.

I really am a vocal person. I try to be reasonable and sensible but when I see how much blind and vision impaired people can do and the only reason why they aren’t doing that is just digital barriers that could be easily, or relatively easily put away. That just always strikes me as some unfairness, some deep unfairness on a very deep level and I start to ask, to convince people to make their product accessible and actually to get them acquainted with screenreading software. I always say, well if you use Windows then just download NVDA screenreader. If you use any other platform like maybe MacOS then press command+F5 key. Just take a look at how it’s working, and yeah, so far I’d say there have been a few successes on that way, so we’re moving forward.

Text: “Digital barriers that could be easily, or relatively easily, put away. That just always strikes me as some unfairness, some deep unfairness” in purple on turquoise.

If you use Windows then just download NVDA screenreader.

Quentin: Fantastic. Moving forward, that’s good! So that brings us back to your project, working for the Arts, Science and Sports foundation charity, as the accessibility consultant for the Special View program.

Anatoliy: Yep, and so the idea behind the project is to actually get together those users, blind and vision impaired users who want to expand their knowledge, their IT related skills, and those blind and vision impaired IT trainers who can provide, who can teach how to use the computer and that’s the idea behind it. And one of the questions which arises right away: How can be we sure that those IT trainers, themselves have the expertise and knowledge that they can use the computers, good enough? And NVDA Certification became one of the first challenges for those IT specialists to overcome. Because that was a challenge.

How can we be sure that those IT trainers, themselves have the expertise and knowledge that they can use the computer, good enough? NVDA Certification.

That was the first thing I myself did. I passed the exam and thought that it was mildly difficult. Well it was difficult, but not so much, and I thought that OK well if IT trainers who would teach blind and vision impaired community in Russia would have this internationally recognised certification, that would be just cool. So, I kind of set that as an entry barrier. So those people who want to train others, have to pass the exam.

Because they live all across Russia and I think only one of them is in Moscow so all the others, all the other 10 are located in various other cities from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. And everywhere in between, in any cities.

They were passing the exam. I really am proud to say 11 of my peers, totally blind, Russian speaking and Russian living users, NVDA users, have been able to pass the exam. And actually, a little more because, when I shared what I was doing with friends of mine, because I have a lot of blind and visually impaired friends, all over Russia, even those who didn’t, who weren’t particularly interested in becoming an IT trainer, they were like “ah , what do you say, they NVDA certification system?, Aha, ok, and I know for sure at least a couple of guys who are not directly engaged in my project, they also went to NVDA certification system and passed the exam. Just to make sure that their knowledge of the best screenreader for Windows platform is sufficient enough just to get self-esteem, that’s funny!

Passed the exam. Just to make sure that their knowledge of the best screenreader for Windows platform is sufficient enough.

Quentin: That’s fantastic, and it really goes to show the dedication of the people you’ve got working with you there So the project that you’ve got started there, to teach others. What will you be teaching?

Anatoliy: The topic range is actually quite extensive. Because there is not only Windows OS itself, basic function like changing options and using file explorer, this kind of stuff but there’s also of course various internet related functions starting with internet browsing, email clients then of course there is Skype, Zoom and all those communication systems, and then there is a huge block related to Google applications, Google suite, Google documents, Google sheets, Google calendar, tasks, Gmail itself, whatever because like those pieces of software they are being used in corporate environment just about everywhere and if there is a chance, a possibility for employment for a blind and visually impaired person, then those tools are a must to master, so to say. There is no way of avoiding this kind of software. And of course, we also, are aiming at providing some knowledge for Mac OSX operating system, and we even want to go as far as to start actually to support Blind and visually impaired freelancers who want to organise and to create their own websites so using some content management system like WordPress, Drumola, Joomla, Drupal or whatever, you name it. That is going to be the real help to blind and vision impaired Russian community because they would have access to the knowledge and expertise of IT of prominent IT Russian trainers. Those IT trainers who are blind and vision impaired persons themselves they would get an opportunity for vocational employment. So they would be able to earn some money. And those corporate structures that are responsible enough to hire blind and visually impaired persons, they can just address that project with a proposal to train their blind personnel to use the software so they wouldn’t have any more doubts than necessary, if this blind person can use this particular software. I think also that might also be important.

If there is a chance, a possibility for employment for a blind or visually impaired person, then those tools are a must to master.

But the idea behind the project is that the charity foundation actually covers the costs of training sessions. So it pays to the IT trainers and blind and vision impaired users receive knowledge free of charge you know only the only requirements are their basically their motivation. So hopefully that would give opportunities to those people who can not really get hold of any substantial knowledge for their education or employment otherwise.

Quentin: Definitely, and that ties in with our own philosophy at NV Access, that the cost for a blind user to be able to use the computer should be no more than for anybody else. Which is exactly why we make NVDA available for free to begin with.

Anatoliy: Yep, and I would like to take this opportunity if I may to really thank you guys. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to NVDA project. Because it’s been evolving rapidly, and the work you’re doing is really fantastic and I’m sure there is a lot of Russian, well I know for sure that there is just hundreds, if not thousands of blind Russian users that would gladly say thank you for your work for your dedication for your NVDA because it really does make a lot of difference in how we use computers. Why we use, where we use them. It does open doors for education, for employment and it kind of like lays the foundation for us to start talking about digital accessibility because like right now we can address all the interested developers. Ok take a look at NVDA website and just download that free screen reader software and just run it. See for yourself what your website or your application looks like. And we can use it just freely on any computer and that, that’s a lot. That really does make a huge difference. That motivates at least me to talk about digital accessibility to push the corporate environment, the IT developers forward and to you know create even more education and employment opportunities for the blind and vision impaired, that’s what we’re doing here. That’s important.

Text “I would like to take this opportunity if Imay to really thank you guys. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to NVDA project” in purple on turquoise.

Quentin: That is important and that’s a really fantastic initiative that you’ve got going there.

Anatoliy: Well thank you.

Quentin: And thank you.

In-process 23rd October 2020

Ven, 23/10/2020 - 03:04

The big news this time around is the release of NVDA 2020.3. The new version came out last week, so by now many users with NVDA set to “Check for updates” will have already updated. So, let’s dive right into that first up:

NVDA 2020.3

NVDA 2020.3 includes several large improvements to stability and performance. These improvements are particularly evident in Microsoft Office applications, and in VS Code. There are new settings to toggle touchscreen support and graphics reporting. The existence of marked (highlighted) content can be reported in browsers now. There are new German braille tables, and fixes for users of various sound drivers.

NVDA 2020.3 is a recommended update for all users. Please read more and download from the NVDA 2020.3 Release Announcement:

If you are an existing NVDA user, you can also update by pressing NVDA+N, then H for help, then C to check for update.

NVDACon

NVDACon is coming up in just over a month. To get in the mood, I thought I would share some snippets from previous years in the lead up. Recordings from previous NVDACon conventions are available at from the NVDACon Past Conferences page.

Here is a recording from 2018, featuring Tony Malykh. Tony is the author of NVDA Add-ons including SentenceNav and IndentNav. Listen to Tony’s NVDACon 2018 Presentation. If you would like to try Tony’s add-ons out yourself, they have been updated since 2018. They both have new features and work with the current NVDA 2020.3. You can find both on the NVDA Add-ons:

Or go directly to the SentenceNav or IndentNav pages on the NVDA Add-ons site.

What has been your favourite NVDACon memory? Let us know, and we’ll feature more highlights in a coming edition of In-Process.

If you’re an NVDA user or add-on developer, you might also feel inspired to submit your idea for a talk. We’d love to hear how you use NVDA or what you’ve been working on at this year’s NVDACon. Please get in touch with the NVDACon organisers, as they’d love to fit you in!

Don’t forget: mark December 5 and 6 in your calendar for NVDACon 2020.

Reporting formatting information

Many users know that pressing NVDA+f reports the current formatting information. If you press this twice, it presents the information in a text window. This command has undergone a subtle change in NVDA 2020.3. It now reports the information at the caret or system focus.

If you are scratching your head thinking it always did that, you will not notice any change. In fact, NVDA+f used to report formatting information for the text at the review cursor. The review cursor follows the text caret by default, so is usually at the same place as the caret or system focus. It is possible to move the review cursor on its own, or to set the review cursor to not follow the system focus. To still find out the formatting at the review cursor, rather than system focus, press NVDA+shift+f.

The review cursor works closely with object navigation. These features can access text and objects not available with the regular text carat. Text such as read-only dialogs, or labels which are not attached to their control, so don’t get read.

There is a section in our “Basic Training for NVDA” module which covers the review cursor. There is also a complete section on Object navigation. The module covers everything from the basics to advanced functions like configuration profiles. You can purchase “Basic Training with NVDA” individually in a range of formats from the NV Access Shop. It is also available as part of the “NVDA Productivity Bundle“. The bundle includes the Word, Excel and Outlook modules, and telephone support. You can find both the individual modules and the bundle in the NV Access shop.

That’s all for this week. Have a spooky Halloween, and we’ll be back again in early November.

NVDA 2020.3 Released

Mar, 13/10/2020 - 16:21

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2020.3 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.

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.

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 2020.3

To find out what’s new in this release, please visit What’s new in NVDA 2020.3

Close-up photograph of NVDA logo in notification area.

In-Process 9th October 2020

Ven, 09/10/2020 - 09:07

We’re very close to a new NVDA version! The first release candidate is out, so let’s start with that:

NVDA 2020.3 Release Candidate

Following on from the beta releases over the past few weeks, NVDA 2020.3 RC1 has been released. This is a release candidate, and unless any critical issues are found, this will be identical to the 2020.3 release. I would encourage everyone to Please Test This Release Candidate.

There are improvements to stability and performance, particularly in Office. There is a new German Braille table, and eSpeak-NG has been updated. There are new touchscreen options, and we’ve added new emulated system keys in the input gestures dialog.

More highlights and download links can be found in the NVDA 2020.3 Release Candidate Announcement.

Updated Job advertisement

NV Access is still 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 have updated the advertisement with new details. So, for all the information, and to apply, please refer to our Full Time Software Engineer Job Advertisement.

Code of conduct

NV Access has always been lauded for upholding the highest moral and ethical standard. We have recently formalised this ethos into a code of conduct. This code of conduct doesn’t comprise anything unusual or surprising. Indeed, there isn’t anything listed which wasn’t already standard behaviour, either for us, or for the NVDA community overall. You can find a copy of the code of conduct in the main NVDA Files Repository on GitHub. The direct link to the Code of Conduct itself is https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda/blob/master/CODE_OF_CONDUCT.MD. Going forward, this will be the code of conduct for NV Access owned forums, such as our GitHub repository. We would encourage other NVDA-based communities to consider adopting similar codes of conduct, which you are welcome to base off this document.

NVDACon 2020 call for topics

NVDACon 2020 is fast approaching. Robert Hänggi, the chair, has posted a Call for Topics Letter to the Community, calling for submissions for the conference.

There are a number of new presentation types and lengths, so if you haven’t presented before, or been worried that your presentation might not be the right length or style, Have a Look at the Call For Topics For NVDACon 2020, there’s sure to be something to suit!

Another of the NVDACon organisers, Derek, is looking into the possibility of live streaming sessions on YouTube. Because YouTube has the provision for visuals as well as audio, Derek would like to know what you would have as visuals with each presentation? Email info@nvdacon.org with your thoughts and suggestions.

Reading foreign languages:

Jen Jesso of the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired in Vancouver has put together a handy guide for Setting up NVDA to Read Foreign Languages. These are very useful for anyone who uses NVDA with multiple languages regularly.

New Accessible game

Many people have been following the progress of the Tau Station project. The project has made it to Kickstarter now and is seeking backers. Tau Station describes itself as an “MMO Biblio RPG”, an expansive and beautifully written science fiction novel and a grippingly immersive, massively multiplayer role-playing game. If that sounds like the kind of thing you’d enjoy, then you might consider backing Tau Station on Kickstarter.

That’s all for this week. NVDA 2020.3 will either be out, or very close to it by the time our next In-Process comes out. In the meantime, do please try the NVDA 2020.3 Release Candidate and Let Us Know what you think.

NVDA 2020.3rc1 available for testing

Mar, 06/10/2020 - 18:03

The Release Candidate (RC) of NVDA 2020.3 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 2020.3 release.

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 2020.3beta4 Available for Testing

Gio, 01/10/2020 - 19:08

Beta4 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 Beta3:

  • “Automatic focus mode for caret movement” setting is now compatible with disabling “Automatically set focus to focusable elements”.
  • Reverted change to SAPI5 synth driver which introduced regressions.
  • Updated translations for many languages.

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.

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.