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In-Process 26th February 2021

Ven, 26/02/2021 - 13:31

This past week saw the release of NVDA 2020.4. There’s a lot of exciting things in the release, so let’s dive right in!

NVDA 2020.4 Released

Last week, we Released NVDA 2020.4. This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis, and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

It should have been offered as an update to most users by now if you have NVDA set to check for updates. If you haven’t yet got your copy, we’re pleased to confirm the price has NOT increased. It is still FREE and available from the download link at the top of the page. You can also read more in the NVDA 2020.4 Release Announcement.

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.

Image of 2020.4 release announcement, tilted on blurred background

NVDA 2020.4 Bug Fixes

I was going to mention some of the new features, but I’ve covered a few of those in the last few editions of In-Process. So instead, let’s have a look at some of the bug fixes. Those things which have been frustrating because they don’t work as they should. I’m sure there are still one or two things we could fix (we wanted to leave something for NVDA 2021.1). So, here are a couple of my favourite bug fixes in 2020.4 (and let’s do it in a list, as there are a few fixes for various list types, not all of which are mentioned here):

  • ‘list’ is no longer announced on every line of a list in Google Docs or other editable content in Google Chrome. There are a few other Google Docs fixes too! Check out the What’s New for more
  • It is again possible to use browse mode when reading emails in Windows 10 Mail 16005.13110 and later
  • When using the SAPI5 Ivona voices from harposoftware.com, NVDA is now able to save configuration, switch synthesizers, and no longer will stay silent after restarting
  • It is no longer necessary to press tab or move focus after closing a context menu in MS Edge for browse mode to be functional again. There are also other fixes for Edge users will appreciate
  • A reverse search can now be initiated with ‘find previous’ via NVDA+shift+F3. This is very useful if you know what you want is earlier in the document
  • In Microsoft Teams builds with version numbers like 1.3.00.28xxx, NVDA no longer fails reading messages in chats or Teams channels due to an incorrectly focused menu. We know how important software such as Teams has become to our users. We’re keen to make sure you can keep in touch with everyone!
  • It is again possible to report formatting information for the focused Excel cell using NVDA+F

And that’s only seven of the THIRTY bug fixes in this release! What is your favourite bug fix? Join in the conversation in the NVDA Chat Subgroup.

Why the name?

Why did we release NVDA 2020.4 in 2021? Why didn’t we call it NVDA 2021.1? Good questions! The simple answer is that we started the process of releasing this version when it still was last year. We were originally optimistic we might get it out by the end of 2020. In the end we did not want to rush it our right before going on leave over Christmas and New Year. We would much prefer to bring you a stable product, rather than push something out just to meet an arbitrary date. As it happened, we discovered a couple of quite frustrating issues. We felt the minor inconvenience of holding off the release to fix these was the best option. That is how we ended up releasing this in February. We’re confident you will appreciate the stability of the release, more than be confused by the name!

Donation Receipts

Speaking of minor inconveniences, we’ve identified and fixed an issue with our receipt system. Over the last little while, if you made a donation, you might not have received a little thank you note from us. Rest assured the donation still went through normally, and you would have received the usual receipt from PayPal. Normally, we send out a little thank you from us as well, and anyone who donates from now onward should again receive this small token of our appreciation. We are very grateful for each and every Donation, no matter the amount. If you have donated recently and do need something more than the PayPal receipt for tax or other reasons, simply Drop us an Email and let us know.

Again, thank you to all our wonderful supporters, both those who are in a position to donate, and those who support us through word of mouth, bug reports, retweets and shares on social media and all the other little ways that help.

Server update

Last week, before the new version of NVDA came out, we updated our server. There was only a small period of downtime last Thursday. We’re pleased to confirm that the upgrade went well and has enabled us to streamline and update a few things. This should keep things going smoothly into the future, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank Mitchell for his help with the upgrade!

NVDA on iPhoneGeeks

Moses from iPhoneGeeks has done an iPhoneGeeks Comparison of NVDA and VoiceOver. Although different systems, it’s interesting to compare approaches to screenreaders. It is also always useful to hear how screenreaders are perceived by users on the ground. You can read the iPhoneGeeks Comparison of NVDA and VoiceOver.

And of course iPhoneGeeks covers all kinds of things on using VoiceOver with your iPhone / iPad. We know many of our users will find that useful, so do explore the site while you are there. (And we do appreciate there aren’t many laptops with NVDA you can fit in your pocket and make calls on).

That’s all for this week. Do Share how you find NVDA 2020.4 and we’ll be back with more in a couple of weeks!

NVDA 2020.4 Released

Ven, 19/02/2021 - 05:46

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2020.4 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.

NVDA 2020.4 This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. 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 2020.4

To find out what’s new in this release, please visit What’s new in NVDA 2020.4

Close-up photograph of NVDA logo in notification area.

In-Process 12th February 2021

Ven, 12/02/2021 - 02:17

Today is Lunar New Year and the start of the year of the Ox. For those who write dates dd/mm/yyyy, today is also a palindrome day: 12/02/2021. As well as all that, the NVDA 2020.4 Release Candidate is available to download, what an exciting week!

NVDA 2020.4 RC1

NVDA 2020.4 RC1 is now available. This release candidate is the last step before a new release. We encourage all users to download this RC and provide feedback. Unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2020.4 release.

NVDA 2020.4 RC1 is basically the same as the last beta. It includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus, many other important bug fixes and improvements.

Download NVDA 2020.4 RC1 from the release announcement page. Do please let us know what you think.

NVDA Elements list in Word

One of the new features in 2020.4 is that the elements list is now available in focus mode. This works in web browsers and other applications which support Browse mode. One issue which has been found is using this feature in Word. This feature only works after pressing NVDA+spacebar to go into Browse mode. After that, the elements list can be opened from browse or focus mode while this document is open. This issue was only found this week, after the release candidate came out. We have decided not to hold back the final release for this issue. We have already worked on a fix, which should be in Alpha builds of NVDA soon, and will be in NVDA 2021.1. This is also a good example of why it is really important for people to test new features and fixes in beta versions. It is much easier to fix things at that point without pushing the release date back.

Survey request

We had a request this week from a student in the Adult Transition program at the Foundation for Blind Children, in Phoenix AZ. Alan Reuss is running a survey asking for a little information from developers. Alan is preparing for training and considering a career working with code. He has asked if we could please pass his details on to anyone who might be able to help him. If you are interested in helping Alan, his email address is areuss@sudent.seeitourway.org

Configuration Profiles

One of the more powerful ways of customising NVDA is with configuration profiles. NVDA can use a completely different group of settings for a particular program. Or a configuration profile can be loaded manually. In-process has previously covered using Configuration Profiles to adjust how “Say all” works. NVDA uses say all when you press NVDA+down arrow or NVDA+a. Likely the most common use of configuration profiles is setting a profile for a program. That is, a set of NVDA options, such as speech rate and punctuation, used every time one program is active. Let’s go through the steps to set that up:

  1. First, open the program you want to set a configuration profile for.
  2. Press NVDA+control+p to open the configuration profiles dialog. Your NVDA key is either INSERT or CAPS LOCK.
  3. Press alt+n to create a new configuration profile.
  4. Ignore the profile name and press TAB to move to the “Use this profile for” set of radio buttons.
  5. Press the right arrow to move to “Current application (name)”. In this case, “name” is the executable name of the current program. Note this may be different to the Window title. For instance, Microsoft Word has the name “winword”.
  6. Press ENTER to create the profile which closes both dialogs and returns focus to the program.
  7. Any NVDA settings you change while this program is active, are now only saved for use with this program.
Any settings changed in other programs are saved in the “Normal configuration” profile.

Settings in NVDA’s general settings category are not saved in configuration profiles. These settings include the log level, using NVDA during sign in, and checking for updates. These settings apply to NVDA overall.

TechVB Interview with NVDA community contributor Joseph Lee

Anyone active in the NVDA community is likely familiar with Joseph Lee. Joseph has been an active NVDA advocate and code contributor for many years. He can often be found helping users on the NVDA users email list. He is also a popular teacher and add-on author. Recently TechVB interviewed Joseph about NVDA, the community, accessibility and much more. You can listen to the TechVB podcast featuring Joseph Lee

That’s all for this week. Please do download NVDA 2020.4 RC1 and let us know what you think. By the time the next In-Process is out we should have a new stable version in the wild!

NVDA 2020.4rc1 available for testing

Lun, 08/02/2021 - 09:35

The Release Candidate (RC) of NVDA 2020.4 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 2020.4 release.

NVDA 2020.4 This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

In-Process 28th January 2021

Gio, 28/01/2021 - 12:02

We’re near the end of January and getting near release time for NVDA 2020.4. So let’s start there:

NVDA 2020.4

The milestone step this week is the announcement of the translation string freeze. The freeze date is the 4th February. That means, translators have one more week to get their translations up to date to include in 2020.4. After that, we will put out a release candidate. If no major issues are found, the final version will be out soon after that.

In the meantime, we’re still encouraging everyone to download NVDA 2020.4 Beta 4. Please, test the new features and fixes, and let us know as soon as possible if there are any issues.

What’s new in NVDA 2020.4

So what are the new features and fixes? I’m glad you asked! There are lots of new features in NVDA 2020.4. The NVDA 2020.4 Beta 4 release announcement includes a link to the What’s new file. One of the new features mentioned is that “Tab headers are now considered form fields with quick navigation f key”. The example in the issue is the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) sample page. As well as an example, it’s a useful reference on the feature, so here’s a link to the W3C’s tabs page

Tab headers change the information presented on a section of a page, depending on the header selected. On that sample page, look for the “Nils Frahm”, “Agnes Obel” and “Joke” form fields – they’re tab headers and change the paragraph underneath them. I can’t think of too many examples of this I’ve encountered in the wild yet. It’s great to know that when I do find one, I know NVDA will work with it. Have you found sites using these? The NVDA user email group has an NVDA chat subgroup, for conversation. I’d love to hear how you’ve found these tab headers on actual sites in the NVDA chat group!

The W3C is an international group of organisations, staff and the public. The consortium work together to develop web standards. If you’re interested in web development and accessibility, there is a lot of information on the W3C website.

Exploring NVDA with ACB

The American Council for the Blind have a free, weekly Zoom session called “Exploring NVDA”. The session is at 3pm ET, 12pm PT, 10am HT (all US times). From the ACB Weekly Community Events page:

Each week we will go through the ins and outs of NVDA, a free and open source screen reader for windows. as well as NVDA, we will take a deep dive into windows products such as the office suite and windows ecosystem.”

To join the call:

https://acb-org.zoom.us/j/87909308783?pwd=aUJ4eCt6RXpTQUxQNm0xNWJaSEhmQT09

One tap mobile: +13126266799,,87909308783#

Phone: 312-626-6799

Meeting ID: 879 0930 8783

Passcode: 545453

Microsoft FOSS fund award

NV Access are very pleased to have been selected as a recipient of Microsoft’s Free and Open Source Software Fund (FOSS Fund) for 2021. From their site:

The Microsoft FOSS Fund provides a direct way for Microsoft engineers to participate in the nomination and selection process to help communities and projects they are passionate about.

A project of the Microsoft Open Source Programs Office, the FOSS Fund provides $10,000 sponsorships to open source projects as selected by Microsoft employees. To help drive an open contribution culture across Microsoft, employees are eligible to select projects for the fund when they participate in projects that are not governed by Microsoft.

Thank you so much to Microsoft, and especially to all the Microsoft Employees who voted for NVDA!

Another generous donation

While we are thanking people, we’ve got another group to thank. A very large shout out also to ISCB, the the German VI Computer Users Interest Group. They have made a very generous donation, and we are very grateful for their ongoing support of NVDA.

Learn more about ISCB from the ISCB website.

Contributors such as Microsoft and ISCB, as well as all our supporters, make a huge difference. They keep NVDA thriving, growing, and available for free to anyone, anywhere in the world who can use it.

NV Access is a registered not-for-profit charity in Australia. We appreciate every contribution, large and small. While we encourage those who can afford to Donate to us to consider it, please don’t feel any pressure at all to donate. If you would like to know more about the difference NVDA makes around the world, we have a video you may find useful. It highlights some of the users who have benefitted from a free, quality screen reader. Watch Changing Lives: The story behind the free NVDA Screen Reading software on YouTube.

That’s all for this week. Next week is translation freeze, then we’ll put out a release candidate. So, we should be well into the Release Candidate phase by the time In-Process comes out again. In the meantime, please do try out NVDA 2020.4 beta 4 and let us know how you find it.

In-Process 14th January 2021

Gio, 14/01/2021 - 07:36

Welcome to 2021! We are slowly easing our way into the new year and catching up on correspondence. If you have emailed info@nvaccess.org over the break, you should receive a response shortly, if you haven’t already. First off, we have news on NVDA 2020.4, so let’s get right into that.

NVDA 2020.4 Beta 4

Thank you to everyone who has been testing the 2020.4 beta over the Christmas break. We have identified and addressed a few issues along the way, thanks to your feedback! This brings us up to NVDA 2020.4 Beta 4! In particular, this newest beta fixes the issue with some language translations not being updated. A number of users had reported this and we appreciate the assistance identifying the issue and addressing it.

NVDA 2020.4beta4 release announcement screenshot

Please do try out NVDA 2020.4 Beta 4, and let us know how you find it.

GitHub Sponsorship

Did you know that you can sponsor NV Access via GitHub? PayPal is still the main way to donate, but GitHub is available for those who would like to contribute on that platform. There is even the options of a shoutout on social media if you wish. One of our newest GitHub sponsors has pledged a very generous $50 per month. They have opted to remain anonymous, but if you are reading this dear donor, thank you very much for your support!

GitHub sponsor button (pink heart outline next to word “sponsor”)

And indeed, thank you very much to ALL of our generous donors, large and small. Every contribution helps ensure we can continue to distribute NVDA completely free to anyone, anywhere in the world. NVDA being free can seem like a “bonus” to those of us lucky to live in affluent countries with generous government funded disability support. To many around the world, however, such things are a dream. If NVDA were not available to them for free, they would have no access to a computer at all.

If you can afford a little extra to share in our mission, then we would be very grateful for you considering us.

If you are new to NVDA and would like to improve your skills, then before donating, you might consider purchasing our training material. You can find the training modules individually in the NV Access shop, or in the NVDA Productivity Bundle. The Productivity Bundle comes with telephone support as well. Like donating, the purchase of the training material assists us in continuing our mission. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to improve your skills with the world’s most popular screen reader – a win for everyone!

To donate via PayPal, please see our “Support us” page. You can find our bank details on the same page, but please check charges with your local bank first.

To sponsor us via GitHub, please see: https://github.com/sponsors/nvaccess

Installing a new OneCore voice

One small improvement in NVDA 2020.4 is not to NVDA itself, but an update to the NVDA User Guide. (Note that the online user guide linked to is only updated every stable release. Until NVDA 2020.4 comes out, run the Beta, and open the User Guide from the help menu.) We’ve added an overview of how to add a new Windows OneCore voice. We’ve also updated the link to Microsoft’s list of available OneCore voices. While it may change between exact Windows 10 versions, here are the steps to install a new OneCore voice in Windows 10 version 20H2:

  1. Press the WINDOWS key
  2. Type “Speech”
  3. Use the ARROW KEYS to locate “Speech settings, System setting” in the search results
  4. Press ENTER to open Windows settings
  5. TAB to “add voices” and press ENTER to load
  6. Type the name of a language*
  7. Press TAB to move to the list of results
  8. Use the arrow keys to select the language in the list.
  9. Press SPACEBAR to select any desired voices (multiple voices can be selected)
  10. Press TAB to move to the “add” button and press ENTER. A message advises “To use new voices, close and reopen settings as well as any apps that use voices
  11. Wait for the voice to finish installing, (no message is given), then Restart NVDA

*Note that if you want to install a language like “English (Australia)” or “French (Canada)” you will need to search for the main language (English or French in these two cases). Searching for the variant (Australia or Canada) does not find a result.

If you do notice anything in any of our documentation which is out of date or needs updating (User Guide, website, training material, etc.), please do let us know.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the start to your 2021 and we look forward to sharing more information on NVDA 2020.4 next time around! For now, please do test out the beta, and be sure to report any issues you find, either on GitHub or Email us.

NVDA 2020.4beta4 Available for Testing

Mer, 13/01/2021 - 09:28

Beta4 of NVDA 2020.4 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 Beta3
  • Updates to translations.
Changes from Beta2
  • Fix loss of speech after removed audio device.
  • Updates to translations.
Changes from Beta1:
  • Liblouis 3.16.1: added Afrikaans grade 2 to braille input/output tables interface.
  • Fix an error preventing a failed copy operation from being reported.
  • Fix error affecting some Add-ons.
  • Fix QWERTY input with Papenmeier braille displays.

NVDA 2020.4 This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

NVDA 2020.4beta3 Available for Testing

Mar, 05/01/2021 - 13:32

Beta3 of NVDA 2020.4 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 Beta2
  • Fix loss of speech after removed audio device.
  • Updates to translations.
Changes from Beta1:
  • Liblouis 3.16.1: added Afrikaans grade 2 to braille input/output tables interface.
  • Fix an error preventing a failed copy operation from being reported.
  • Fix error affecting some Add-ons.
  • Fix QWERTY input with Papenmeier braille displays.

NVDA 2020.4 This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

NVDA 2020.4beta2 Available for Testing

Mer, 23/12/2020 - 12:07

Beta2 of NVDA 2020.4 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:

  • Liblouis 3.16.1: added Afrikaans grade 2 to braille input/output tables interface.
  • Fix an error preventing a failed copy operation from being reported.
  • Fix error affecting some Add-ons.
  • Fix QWERTY input with Papenmeier braille displays.

NVDA 2020.4 This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

In-process 18th December 2020

Ven, 18/12/2020 - 01:13

We are almost at the end of another year, and what a year it’s been! We’re not done yet though, we’re hard at work on the next NVDA release, so let’s start with that:

NVDA 2020.4 News

NVDA 2020.4 Beta 1 has just been released. NVDA 2020.4 will include lots of new and improved features. A quick summary: This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

We don’t want to rush the release just for the sake of getting it out before the end of the year. So we will run the beta period across the holidays and encourage everyone to test it out. In January we will look to a Release Candidate, and then final stable version. Then we’ll turn our attention to 2021.1 and do it all again!

In the meantime, please do Download the Beta Version, and be sure to Report Any Issues you encounter.

Christmas Trading hours

We’re pleased to confirm that you can Download NVDA 24/7 across the holiday period! In addition, The NV Access Online Shop hours remain unchanged, also 24/7 – it is a great time of year to pick up a new skill with our training material, or challenge yourself to become an NVDA Certified Expert. And you can continue to Donate at any time, we do very much appreciate the generosity of our supporters, thank you! NV Access staff are all taking a break either after the 18th December, or from Christmas Eve, through to January 4th. With some additional leave at various points through January.

We will endeavour to address any correspondence to info@nvaccess.org as quickly as possible. Please note it may be the second week in January before we are able to get to everything.

While we’re away, and even when we’re here, the NVDA User Email Group is a great place to meet other users. You can ask questions, get advice and share information and tips about your favourite screen reader. Over the break, we’d encourage you to raise any issues you find in the user group. Often, the good folks there will be able to help keep you working. If something needs further attention, then you can either create a GitHub Issue, or send us an Email. As mentioned, we will do our best to address it as soon as we can.

NVDACon

NVDACon was, once again, a huge success. We’d like to thank all the organisers and participants for a memorable event! There are recordings of the sessions. While these aren’t available yet, they’ll likely be up by the time the next In-process comes out. In the meantime, you can still enjoy recordings from previous NVDACon conferences. Go to the the NVDACon Past Conferences Page for all the goodness!

Skim reading

One of the changes in NVDA 2020.4 is an improvement to Skim Reading. “When reading with say all in browse mode, the find next and find previous commands do not stop reading anymore if Allow skim reading option is enabled; say all rather resumes from after the next or previous found term.”

While that itself almost explains skim reading, let’s have a closer look at the feature. The User Guide notes that the option in NVDA’s keyboard settings is named: “Allow skim reading in Say All”. The user guide goes on to define it: “If on, certain navigation commands (such as quick navigation in browse mode or moving by line or paragraph) do not stop Say All, rather Say All jumps to the new position and continues reading.”

First, you need to go into NVDA’s keyboard settings (NVDA+control+k) and enable this option (alt+r). With the setting enabled, start say all as you normally would. Press NVDA+down arrow if using NVDA in desktop keyboard layout, or NVDA+a if using Laptop keyboard layout. While Say All is speaking, you can use navigation keys to skip forward through the text, to get to text of interest. Or you could go back a bit to listen again to something read, without needing to then restart say all.

The new change allows you to use NVDA’s find next and previous commands with skim reading. So let’s say we’ve got NVDA 2020.4 beta 1 running, and we’ve set it to allow skim reading. You could load the what’s new page for the beta in your favourite browser: https://www.nvaccess.org/files/nvda/releases/2020.4beta1/nvda_2020.4beta1_changes.html If interested in updates relating to Braille, press NVDA+control+f to bring up NVDA’s find dialog. Type “Braille” as the term to search for, and press ENTER to search. It will find the first instance, in the blurb for 2020.4. At this point start say all (NVDA+down arrow or NVDA+a). Press NVDA+F3 to jump ahead to the next reference to braille, in the new features for 2020.4. NVDA will read that point, then keep reading. As you press NVDA+f3, it will jump ahead to the next mention of Braille and read from there onwards. For more context at a given mention of Braille, press up arrow to move up a line. NVDA will move up a line and continue reading without interrupting say all. Do you use skim reading? Will you give it a go after reading this? Try it out and let us know what you think!

That’s all for this edition, and this year. We’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas, and New Year! Please do wear a mask, wash your hands, maintain social distancing, and particularly if in a Covid hotspot area, just stay home.

We look forward to bringing you In-Process once again, early in 2021!

Turquoise Christmas tree with white NVDA sun logo in centre. Purple and Orange NVDA sun logos around outside

NVDA 2020.4beta1 Available for Testing

Mer, 16/12/2020 - 10:47

Beta1 of NVDA 2020.4 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 2020.4 This release includes new Chinese Input methods, an update to Liblouis and the elements list (NVDA+f7) now works in focus mode. Context sensitive help is now available when pressing F1 in NVDA dialogs. Improvements to symbol pronunciation rules, speech dictionary, Braille message and skim reading. Bug fixes and improvements to Mail, Outlook, Teams, Visual Studio, Azure Data Studio, Foobar2000. On the web, there are improvements to Google Docs, and greater support for ARIA. Plus many other important bug fixes and improvements.

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!