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Empowering lives through non-visual access to technology
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Open Source Opens the Way!

Mer, 13/10/2021 - 05:05

NVDA is popular around the globe. One reason for this is the high quality and depth of features. Another reason is that the cost of traditional, commercial screen readers is prohibitive. NVDA makes the world of computers available to anyone, anywhere in the world. NVDA is not only popular at home though. It is important to have access to the same technology at work. Using open source software like NVDA makes it easy to share software between work and home. Being free, and not needing to worry about registering licenses also reduces the financial burden on employers. Open Source software is very popular in both corporate and government use. We do still sometimes get asked, “As open source software, is NVDA safe?” As the story we’re about to share indicates, NVDA certainly passes the test! More on how we can give NVDA away free and how we ensure it is secure, after Jacques’ story, in his own words:

Jacques’ story

“I work for a large financial organisation in South Africa as a Technical Specialist. It has always been the norm to buy paid screen readers for the employees with a visual impairment. As I have found that NVDA meets my needs in all packages I work with, I decided to challenge the status quo. The first few colleagues I approached in this regard were extremely cautious to safe list NVDA on our Software Library. This was mainly due to misinformation and perceptions around open source projects. My approach then was to contact our Head of Information Security, requesting an online meeting. During this discussion I requested that NVDA was put through a full code analysis.

…As I expected, NVDA came out as clean as a whistle…

The Head of Information Security was then happy to give sign-off for NVDA to be company approved software and put on our internal Software Library. In addition, the report from his division not only made it clear that NVDA holds no security risk to the company, but that they are impressed with the integrity of NV Access as an organisation. All employees with a visual impairment can now request that NVDA is installed on their workstations, as well as developers who which to do initial accessibility testing, using the speech viewer functionality in NVDA.

As a financial organisation, our security restrictions are very strict, for obvious reasons. Therefore, I believe that if NVDA came through with flying colours, there should be no reason for another company to fear any security risks when using this package.

…they are impressed with the integrity of NV Access as an organisation…

In the very challenging economic climate we find ourselves during Covid-19, a free screen reader alternative may just make the difference when deciding on whether to hire a blind person or not.”

Security of NVDA

Thank you Jacques! Convincing IT departments to install any piece of software can be challenging. If you need help getting the right information about NVDA for your IT department, we are happy to help. We have a page especially for our Corporate and Government users. Among other information on this page is a large section on open source software. Three of the main points in that section I wanted to paraphrase here:

  • Anyone can view NVDA’s code. Unlike closed source software, you can verify what goes into NVDA. It is important to note that NV Access have strict procedures. NV Access check and test all code. Only NV Access staff can build the version of NVDA you Download from NV Access.
  • Companies including Microsoft and Google have policies promoting open source. Many governments including the US, UK and Australia encourage or even mandate open source software. Links to these policies can be found on the Corporate and Government page
  • NVDA includes a “Digital Signature”, which only NV Access can add to the executable file. This can be viewed in the “Digital signature” tab of the file properties to confirm you have a genuine copy of NVDA

NVDA’s Digital Signature

To view the digital signature for NVDA / digital certificate for NV Access:

  1. Press WINDOWS+E to open File Explorer
  2. Locate and select the NVDA launcher file OR nvda.exe on a portable or installed copy
  3. Press ALT+ENTER to open the file properties
  4. Press CONTROL+TAB to move to the “Digital signatures” page of the file properties.
  5. Press TAB to move to the signature list, and SPACEBAR to select the NV Access signature (the only signature)
  6. Press ALT+D to open the “Details” information
  7. From here you can navigate the dialog to view more information about the signature and view the digital certificate.

If you are wondering – a “digital signature” is like a wax seal added to the package by NV Access. As long as this is intact, it proves that the file hasn’t been altered after being signed by NV Access. A “digital certificate” is an identity document for the entity who signed the certificate, NV Access in this case. The “About SSL” organisation has a page explaining Digital signatures and digital certificates.

Screenshot of NVDA_2021.2.exe properties showing details page and digital certificate

Here is another article from DigiCert, explaining digital certificates and how they provide proof of authenticity.

How is NVDA free?

Being open source, NVDA is free for anyone in the world to use. Another question we get asked about that is: “How is NVDA free when other companies charge thousands of dollars?” Corporations particularly, are often used to needing to pay for something before getting “a return on their investment”. Indeed, the rationale of “the higher the price, the better it must be” is common. While this may be true for spaceships, it doesn’t have to be the case for screen reading software. The answer is in our funding model. From the outset we built a model which does not place the burden of cost on the end user. We work with large companies like Google, Microsoft and Mozilla. We provide expertise to make their offerings more accessible. In return, they help fund NVDA’s ongoing development. On one hand, this ensures you get a free, high quality screen reader. On the other, it means that other software you rely on also benefits from our expertise in accessibility. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

Thank you Jacques for sharing your story, and thank you for reading. If you do have any questions about using NVDA in your workplace, or anything else, please do reach out to us.

In-Process 29th September 2021

Mer, 29/09/2021 - 10:14

How is everyone finding NVDA 2021.2? All reports we’ve got so far are positive! For that, we’d like to thank all those who tested alpha, beta, and importantly, the release candidate builds! Let’s start this week by looking at another new feature in 2021.2:

New feature spotlight: Reporting indent in Word

In Microsoft Word, you can adjust the indent of a paragraph in several ways:

  • Press CONTROL+M to increase the indent of the whole paragraph
  • Press SHIFT+CONTROL+M to decrease the indent of the whole paragraph
  • Press CONTROL+T to increase the hanging indent of the whole paragraph, this indents every line of a paragraph except the first one
  • Press SHIFT+CONTROL+T to decrease the hanging indent of the whole paragraph

The commands to decrease indent will not decrease further than no indent. You can have the first line of the paragraph indented by using both commands. First, press CONTROL+M to indent the whole paragraph. Next, press SHIFT+CONTROL+T to decrease the indent of every line except the first line.

When any of these commands are pressed, NVDA reports the new indent level. The measurement unit can be set in Word’s advanced options, as “Show measurement units in”. Press alt+f, then t for options, then control+tab to “Advanced” and press alt+m until the focus is on that option.

Note that the distance indicated is from the edge of the page, not the margin. So the way Word is setup on my PC, My margin is set at 2.54cm. If I press control+m, NVDA reports 3.81cm.

As a bonus command, how can you find out the current distance from the left and top edges of the page at any time? Press NVDA+numpad delete (desktop keyboard layout) or NVDA+delete (laptop keyboard layout). These report the location of the review cursor rather than the caret. If you have moved the review cursor, the location reported may be different to the location of the caret.

Training the key to success for Kartik

Recently one of our users contacted us to thank us for our training material. They explained what they had been able to do with the knowledge gained from the material. It is such a wonderful example of why we do what we do that we were thrilled Kartik gave us permission to share it with you.

Please do check out Kartik’s story.

If you are interested in the training material which was so beneficial for Kartik, you can find them in The NV Access Shop

Update to Outlook module

One of those modules available in the shop, covers Microsoft Outlook. The material works with versions from Outlook 2010 through to the latest Outlook 365.

A few weeks ago, we highlighted a problem Microsoft introduced with recent updates to Outlook.

Following on from that, this week we released an update to our Outlook training material. This update fits in with our recommendation to use the “Classic ribbon”. The instructions for this are now included in the material. Users, trainers and organisations can follow the material, even with newer builds of Outlook.

The update to the material is free for anyone who has purchased the Outlook with NVDA module.

NV Access on the air

The team have done a couple of interviews this week. Our founder Michael Curran features on Accessibility Matters Episode 12. The mission of Accessibility.com’s is to create objective and trustworthy information and resources to become a catalyst for equal access to the physical and digital worlds. Their AccessibilityPlus global conference is coming up October 12 – 14.

Quentin can also be heard this week. He chatted with Peter Greco from Vision Australia Radio to talk about some of the new features in NVDA 2021.2. You can hear that interview about 15 mins in to this week’s Leisure Link program. If you enjoy Leisure Link you can follow along each week at the Leisure Link site.

That’s all for this week. Do try NVDA 2021.2 if you haven’t already. Share what you think in the NVDA Users email group.

Training the key to success

Gio, 23/09/2021 - 13:52

We love hearing from our users, and today’s story exemplifies just why NVDA exists. It demonstrates the amazing work that our users are empowered to do with NVDA. We thank Kartik for sharing his experience with us. If you’d like to share your story, please do get in touch. If you’re interested in the training material which helped Kartik so greatly, it is available from our Shop. But enough from me, let’s hear from Kartik in his own words:

Hi sir, This is Kartik from India. Today here I am sharing my experience with you. After I got the (NVDA training material) book, I was very happy. The book helped me a lot. I got much knowledge in using Word and PowerPoint through the help of those books. It helped me a lot in my academic level as well. Before I don’t know anything about the PowerPoint so I used to sit back when the teacher assign any presentation to us. I just used to share my idea and other used to make presentation due to that the point shared by me used to be missed. So when I completed PowerPoint book I was confident enough to create presentation on my own. I also executed my knowledge to action. I took the responsibility to create the PowerPoint presentation on my own for upcoming presentation and when we show our presentation in front of the class, the teachers were very happy and praised me a lot. The Word book also helped me. I was able to do my assignment in Word. Similarly, I also helped to other people. I taught about PowerPoint and Word to my friends in the free time. I used to think that everyone knew about NVDA but I was amaze to see that many people were not aware about NVDA. So I told them about NVDA and also trained them in using it. Now they are perfect in using NVDA and they are very happy. I am also planning to run a training through online as lock down is going on here. Lets see what I could do. Some of other students from other schools are also contacting me to create presentation so I am helping them as well. I also helped my senior who are searching for job by writing resume, application and bio data through the knowledge that I gained through Word book and the happiest thing is that some of them got selected and are doing the job. I am doing all these things for free because I believe that money should not be the barrier. I am very happy with the NVDA team for providing these books it not only helped me but also made me able to help others. There is no words to thank for creating such a good free screen reader. Thank you sir, thank you NVDA team. Kartik

Thank you Kartik for sharing your experience with us, and for helping so many friends!

As mentioned at the start, the NV Access Shop has all the training material mentioned here and more. If you are new to NVDA or would like to improve your skills, we recommend starting with Basic Training for NVDA. This module covers everything from starting NVDA, through to advanced concepts. Using the web, the review cursor and object navigation are all covered in depth. Basic Training for NVDA is available in Electronic Text, Human-read MP3 Audio, and Hardcopy Braille.

We also have modules for Microsoft Office:

You can also buy all five modules (Basic Training & the four office modules) bundled along with Telephone Support in the “NVDA Productivity Bundle“. The NVDA Productivity Bundle offers everything at a great discount over buying everything individually. Once you are confident with your NVDA skills from the Basic Training module, you may be interested in NVDA Expert Certification. Becoming an NVDA Certified Expert enables you to demonstrate your skills publicly. The exam itself is free to sit, so anyone can test themselves. You only need to pay if you wish to receive the certificate, and be listed publicly on the NVDA Certification Page.

Collage of the covers of the NV Access training material

Thank you again Kartik, and we wish you every success in the future!

And to everyone, we’d love to hear what great things you achieve with your NVDA skills, or what you’ve learnt from the material. Please Let us know, or engage in the NVDA Users email group.

In-Process 17th September 2021

Ven, 17/09/2021 - 08:05

The big news this week of course is the release of the brand new version of NVDA – 2021.2! So, let’s get into that:

NVDA 2021.2

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2021.2 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.

NVDA 2021.2 introduces preliminary Windows 11 support. While Windows 11 is yet to be released, this release has been tested on preview versions of Windows 11. This includes an important fix for Screen Curtain.

The COM Registration Fixing Tool can now resolve more problems when running NVDA. There are updates to the synthesizer eSpeak and braille translator LibLouis. There are also various bug fixes and improvements, notably for braille support and Windows terminals, calculator, emoji panel and clipboard history.

Please see the NVDA 2021.2 Release Announcement for more information and to download the update. You can also update via NVDA’s automatic check for updates feature or from the help menu

Restarting after updating

Please note, after updating any software, it is a good idea to restart the computer. 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.

Restart by going to the Shutdown dialog, selecting “restart” and pressing ENTER. In Windows 10, this can be done by pressing WINDOWS+X, then U, then R.

This also applies to installing or removing software, or running NVDA’s COM Registration Fixing tool.

The COM Registration Fixing Tool

One of the updates in NVDA 2021.2 is an update to the COM Registration fixing tool. But what is it? Windows has various ways of sharing information between programs. This is important so that every program doesn’t need to know how to use your printer, just how to ask Windows to print. Every program doesn’t need to supply its own fonts, these can be installed centrally and used in most programs. One method of storing common information is in “Dynamic Link Library” files. These files have a .dll file extension. In some cases, when a removed program is the last to need a particularly library, it may unregister associated DLL files. In some cases, COM DLL files NVDA still needs may be inadvertently unregistered. As COM Interfaces such as IAccessible depend on correct COM DLL registrations, issues can appear in case the correct registration is missing.

This can happen i.e. after installing and uninstalling Adobe Reader, Math Player and other programs.

The missing registration can cause issues in browsers, desktop apps, task bar and other interfaces.

Specifically, following issues can be solved by running this tool:

  • NVDA reports “unknown” when navigating in browsers such as Firefox, Thunderbird etc.
  • NVDA fails to switch between focus mode and browse mode
  • NVDA is very slow when navigating in browsers while using browse mode
  • And possibly other issues

When NVDA is installed, it checks to ensure all the needed COM DLL files are registered correctly. This tool allows you to do the same thing at any time. It’s not a tool most users should need very often, but when needed, it is very handy.

To run the COM Registration fixing tool:

  1. Press NVDA+n to open the NVDA menu (the NVDA key is either INSERT or CAPS LOCK).
  2. Press T to open the Tools submenu.
  3. Down arrow to “Run COM Registration Fixing tool”.
  4. Press ENTER to launch the tool.
  5. NVDA displays a message warning that the tool needs administrator access as it may make changes to the registry.
  6. Press ENTER or ALT+Y to continue.
  7. The User Account Control (UAC) dialog is displayed. Press ALT+Y again to accept the prompt.
  8. The tool runs and usually only takes a couple of seconds.
  9. A message indicates that the tool has finished, and recommends that you restart your PC.
  10. Press ENTER to acknowledge and close the dialog.
  11. It is recommended that you restart your system as per the message. Refer to the previous instructions on how to restart the PC.

NVDA’s COM Registration Fixing Tool menu item

NVDA vs VoiceOver

The choice of operating system usually comes down to a range of factors and requirements. Moses from iPhoneArena has written an article on 7 ways he believes NVDA beats VoiceOver. I must admit I haven’t used a Mac recently enough to comment, but it’s great to hear where we are going well. It’s also important to learn where you think we can improve too. If there’s anything you think we can do better, please do create an issue on GitHub, or let us know. And if you see any articles about NVDA out in the wild, be sure to share them with us too!

That’s all for this week, enjoy NVDA 2021.2, do let us know how you find it, and we’ll be back with another edition again soon.

NVDA 2021.2 Released

Mar, 14/09/2021 - 04:52

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2021.2 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.

Highlights

NVDA 2021.2 introduces preliminary Windows 11 support. While Windows 11 is yet to be released, this release has been tested on preview versions of Windows 11. This includes an important fix for Screen Curtain (see important note).

The COM Registration Fixing Tool can now resolve more problems when running NVDA. There are updates to the synthesizer eSpeak and braille translator LibLouis. There are also various bug fixes and improvements, notably for braille support and Windows terminals, calculator, emoji panel and clipboard history.

Important Note:

Due to a change in the Windows Magnification API, Screen Curtain had to be updated to support the newest versions of Windows. Use NVDA 2021.2 to activate Screen Curtain with Windows 10 21H2 (10.0.19044) or later. This includes Windows 10 Insiders and Windows 11. For security purposes, when using a new version of Windows, get visual confirmation that the Screen Curtain makes the screen entirely black.

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.

Links

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.

NVDA 2021.2rc1 available for testing

Mar, 07/09/2021 - 08:20

The Release Candidate (RC) of NVDA 2021.2 is now available for download and testing. We encourage all users to download this RC and provide feedback. Unless any critical bugs are found, this will be identical to the final 2021.2 release.

Highlights

NVDA 2021.2 introduces preliminary Windows 11 support. While Windows 11 is yet to be released, this release has been tested on preview versions of Windows 11. This includes an important fix for Screen Curtain (see important note).

The COM Registration Fixing Tool can now resolve more problems when running NVDA. There are updates to the synthesizer eSpeak and braille translator LibLouis. There are also various bug fixes and improvements, notably for braille support and Windows terminals, calculator, emoji panel and clipboard history.

Important Note:

Due to a change in the Windows Magnification API, Screen Curtain had to be updated to support the newest versions of Windows. Use NVDA 2021.2 to activate Screen Curtain with Windows 10 21H2 (10.0.19044) or later. This includes Windows 10 Insiders and Windows 11. For security purposes, when using a new version of Windows, get visual confirmation that the Screen Curtain makes the screen entirely black.

Links

In-Process 3rd September 2021

Ven, 03/09/2021 - 07:50

We’re continuing to get closer to the release of NVDA 2021.2, so let’s dive into that first of all this week:

NVDA 2021.2

We are moving closer to the release of NVDA 2021.2. The NVDA 2021.2 Beta 1 has been available for several weeks and we’re encouraged that it is working smoothly by all reports. If you do notice any issues, please do Let us know. One of the important milestones is the “Translatable string freeze”. We’ve announce the string freeze for this coming Monday 6th September. This is the date by which translators have to get their translations up to date for the upcoming version. We will incorporate all the translations received by then into NVDA 2021.2. Soon afterwards, we will put out a release candidate. In the meantime, do download the beta if you haven’t already and let us know what you think!

In the meantime, please do continue to test the NVDA 2021.2 Beta 1 and let us know how you find it.

Small Basic Training Update

This week we put out a minor update to the Basic Training module. This update only fixed a formatting issue in section 16. If you’ve purchased the material recently, you should find the latest version on your NV Access Account Downloads pageAs always thank you to everyone who helps improve the material by pointing out issues, whether they’re minor updates or major keystroke changes. Speaking of which, that leads us onto our next piece…

Simplified Ribbon in Outlook

Microsoft have made a change to the way Ribbons work in Outlook. Announced earlier this year, it is called “Simplified Ribbon”. The following is a lengthy explanation of the change, and new ways of accessing features. The tl;dr is that we recommend keyboard users switch back to the classic ribbon at this time. You can find more information about the feature from Microsoft: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/use-the-simplified-ribbon-44bef9c3-295d-4092-b7f0-f471fa629a98 Simplified Ribbon initially rolled out in Office Online, but is now available in Outlook on Office 365, and will presumably roll out across the rest of the Office suite. Microsoft often stagger rollouts of features like this, so some users may get the change before others.

Outlook Classic Ribbon

In the Classic ribbon layout, some important icons are large and take up the whole height of the ribbon. Examples in the main Outlook window include the “New email” or “send / receive all” buttons. Other items are smaller and grouped. “Reply”, “Reply all” and “Forward” are each a third of the ribbon high and stacked on top of each other. Using the keyboard, the best way to navigate is to press TAB. This moves from one item to the next, regardless of how high each item is, through every item in the ribbon.

In the new Simplified ribbon layout, the ribbon itself is smaller. This leaves more room for the main window, and makes every item the same height, so there is only one row of items. Buttons have more space between them for ease of use by touch screen users. The interface aims to be cleaner to look at visually, however there is less room to fit everything.

Outlook Simplified Ribbon

The workaround is an overflow button, which appears as elipses (…). When activated, this opens a menu of the remaining items from the ribbon.

Unfortunately, the keyboard navigation for the simplified ribbon is somewhat messy. If the item you want is in the main, visible part of the ribbon, you can activate it with its keystroke as normal. To access Send / receive all folders via the ribbon, for instance, is alt+h for the home ribbon, then s. If the item is in the overflow area, the keystroke changes. To access sent / receive all folders in the overflow area, press alt+h, then 0, then 0, then a. In this case, the 0, then 0 opens the overflow ribbon, and the key for the function has also changed. Note that the shortcut key for a function, such as F9 for send / receive, works regardless of the location of the icon. In some locations there are multiple overflow areas and the keys can be different. In the new message window, press alt+y to open the message ribbon, then z, then b to open the “Basic Text More Commands”. This has additional text formatting options. Press alt+y, then y to open the “More commands” overflow. This includes other commands which don’t fit in the ribbon, such as address book or check names.

Items are initially in the main or overflow ribbon based on their location. Over time, Outlook will identify frequently used functions and move them to the main ribbon, (bumping something else into the overflow ribbon). You can also manually pin or unpin items from the main ribbon. To do this, open the overflow ribbon, move to an item, open the context menu and choose “Pin to ribbon”. To unpin an item, open the ribbon (eg alt+h), tab to the item, open the context menu and activate “Remove from ribbon”. Note that this does not seem to work for items with submenus. These include the New Email, delete or move items on the main Outlook home ribbon.

Use Classic Ribbon

To change back to the classic ribbons, press alt to open the ribbon, open the context menu and select “Use classic ribbon”. Use the same sequence to “Use simplified ribbon” again if desired. At this point, the classic ribbon provides a more consistent experience for keyboard users.

If you have feedback about the new simplified ribbon, I would encourage you to share it with Microsoft. You can contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk (DAD).

The DAD is a great resource for any accessibility issues you run into with Microsoft Products. They can help you resolve issues, and also take feedback back to the teams at Microsoft to help improve products.

My expectation is that we can expect to see the Simplified ribbon roll out across the whole Office suite.

Finally, a note for users working through the Microsoft Outlook with NVDA training module, the keystrokes are based on the classic ribbon interface. As noted above, keystrokes will be different if using the simplified ribbon.

That’s all for this week, we’ll have another edition in a couple of weeks when we will be very close to the final NVDA 2021.2 release.

In-Process 19th August 2021

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 08:07

In recent editions, we’ve covered some of the new features in NVDA 2021.1. The exciting news this time, is we’re already up to a beta of NVDA 2021.2!

NVDA 2021.2 Beta 1

NVDA 2021.2 Beta 1 is now available for testing. There are a couple of big things for this release:

NVDA 2021.2 introduces preliminary Windows 11 support. While Windows 11 is yet to be released, this release has been tested on preview versions of Windows 11.

NVDA 2021.2 includes an important fix for Screen Curtain on Windows 11 and Windows 10 21H2. Due to a change in the Windows Magnification API, Screen Curtain had to be updated to support the newest versions of Windows. Use NVDA 2021.2 to activate Screen Curtain with Windows 10 21H2 (10.0.19044) or later. This includes Windows 10 Insiders and Windows 11. For security purposes, when using a new version of Windows, get visual confirmation that the Screen Curtain makes the screen entirely black.

The COM Registration Fixing Tool can now resolve more problems when running NVDA. There are updates to the synthesizer eSpeak-NG and braille translator LibLouis. There are also various bug fixes and improvements, notably for braille support and Windows terminals, calculator, emoji panel and clipboard history.

Read the full NVDA 2021.2 Beta 1 announcement, which also has the What’s new for that version, and the all important link to download the beta.

Updates to eSpeak-NG and LibLouis

In the Last In-Process edition, we noted that there was an update to LibLouis in NVDA 2021.1. The piece also covered how both LibLouis and eSpeak-NG are open source projects, like NVDA.

We’ve once again updated the builds of both LibLouis and eSpeak-NG for NVDA 2021.2 Beta 1. We know a lot of people are fans of eSpeak-NG. Of course, all our Braille users rely on LibLouis, so it’s important to test updates to these dependencies.

Configuration profiles

We often get asked about how to make NVDA behave differently in a particular program. The answer is: Configuration profiles. We’ve covered creating a profile for “Say all” previously.

Probably the most common use of configuration profiles is to make application-specific profiles. To create a profile for a specific program:

  1. Open the program you want to create a profile for.
  2. Press NVDA+control+p to open the “Configuration Profiles” dialog directly. Alternatively, press NVDA+n, then C to get to the same place.
  3. Press alt+n to create a new profile.
  4. The focus starts in the “Profile name” edit box. Leave this blank and press TAB to the “Use this profile for” set of radio buttons.
  5. Press the right arrow once to “Current application (name)”. “Name” is the name of the program executable. Note that in some cases this may not be the regular name of the program, eg Microsoft Word is called: “Winword”.
  6. Press ENTER to create the profile and load it. The dialogs close and focus returns to the program.

From now on, NVDA saves any configuration changes while using that program in the profile for that program. The exception to this is changes to NVDA’s “general” settings. These include NVDA’s logging level or NVDA’s interface language. These settings are not application specific. Any changes you make to them are made overall, regardless of any profile in use.

It is possible to delete unneeded configuration profiles from the profiles dialog:

  1. Press NVDA+control+p to open the profiles dialog.
  2. Use the arrow keys to select the profile to remove.
  3. Press ALT+D for delete the selected profile.

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check out NVDA 2021.2 Beta1, and join in the conversation in the NVDA user email group.

NVDA 2021.2beta1 Available for Testing

Lun, 09/08/2021 - 03:41

Beta1 of NVDA 2021.2 is now available for download and testing. For anyone who is interested in trying out what the next version of NVDA has to offer before it is officially released, we welcome you to download the beta and provide feedback.

NVDA 2021.2 introduces preliminary Windows 11 support. While Windows 11 is yet to be released, this release has been tested on preview versions of Windows 11. This includes an important fix for Screen Curtain (see important note).

The COM Registration Fixing Tool can now resolve more problems when running NVDA. There are updates to the synthesizer eSpeak and braille translator LibLouis. There are also various bug fixes and improvements, notably for braille support and Windows terminals, calculator, emoji panel and clipboard history.

Important Note:

Due to a change in the Windows Magnification API, Screen Curtain had to be updated to support the newest versions of Windows. Use NVDA 2021.2 to activate Screen Curtain with Windows 10 21H2 (10.0.19044) or later. This includes Windows 10 Insiders and Windows 11. For security purposes, when using a new version of Windows, get visual confirmation that the Screen Curtain makes the screen entirely black.

In-Process 30th July 2021

Ven, 30/07/2021 - 01:44

It’s the end of July already – 2021 is moving! Let’s start with something else which is disappearing fast:

Basic Training Sale

The response to our Basic Training for NVDA sale has been phenomenal. Many people have taken advantage of it and are enjoying improving their skills with NVDA. However, the sale must come to an end after this weekend. So if you have been considering it, now is definitely the time. The electronic text version of the material comes as a zip file. It includes the content as a web page, a Microsoft Word file, an ePub eBook, and a Kindle KFX file. So you can use it with whichever device or program you prefer. This weekend is your last chance to get Basic Training for NVDA at 50% off.

Thanks to Elston and Staff

We’d like to say a big thank you to Elston and their staff for their generous support this month. Contributions like this are special. It’s not just the organisation donating but the staff themselves seeing the merit in NVDA. Their support helps us in our mission. Thank you to the staff at Elston

If you’d like to contribute to our mission as well, you can help us ensure that NVDA is available for free to anyone who needs it, anywhere in the world. You can purchase training material or telephone support from our shop. You can make a one-off donation, or why not consider becoming a regular monthly contributor? The other thing that really helps, is simply spreading the word about your favourite screenreader. It’s free and might save someone hundreds or thousands of dollars!

2021.1 feature insight: LibLouis

Let’s have another look at something new in NVDA 2021.1. This time, we’ve got “Updated liblouis braille translator to 3.17.0.” LibLouis itself isn’t new, and nor is it’s use in NVDA. But what is LibLouis? Good question! LibLouis describes itself as: “The Liblouis software suite provides an open-source braille translator, back-translator and formatter for a large number of languages and braille codes. It is a set of libraries designed for use in any of a number of applications, both free and commercial.”. Basically, is what NVDA uses to turn the text on screen into the braille dots on a refreshable Braille display. NVDA relies on synthesizers like Windows OneCore and eSpeak-NG to convert text into sound. LibLouis turns that same text into Braille. We try to update the build of LibLouis we use regularly to ensure NVDA has the latest features. So when NVDA gets a new Braille table, it’s thanks to an update to LibLous and the good work of the people over at that project. This update includes a number of new braille tables: Belarusian literary braille, Belarusian computer braille, Urdu grade 1, Urdu grade 2

Just like NVDA, LibLouis is an Open-source project. In fact, eSpeak-NG, the default synthesizer on Windows 7 and 8, is also Open-source. Open-source is an exciting and increasingly popular area of software. So what is Open-source software, and is it safe?

Open Source Software

The Open Source movement define the term simply as: “Generally, Open Source software is software that can be freely accessed, used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone”. Let’s also read from the explanation on our Corporate and Government page:

“NVDA is open source. This means that the source code is available for anyone to view. This is beneficial as it enables people outside the core developers to comment on bugs and offer suggestions for improvement. The final, compiled product contains only code which was either written, or directly checked and approved, by NV Access. Provided you download from https://www.nvaccess.org/ (the Official Site), you can be sure that you are downloading an official version of NVDA which is unaltered and free from malicious software.

You can also verify this by checking the digital signature in the “Digital signature” tab of the file properties.

While anyone could potentially download the NVDA source code and edit it, only NV Access can upload files to the Official Site. There is no more inherent risk with downloading NVDA from the Official Site than there is downloading a closed source program from its official site.

We work closely with partners including Microsoft, Google and Adobe, and they work with us in the knowledge of NVDA being open source. Microsoft uses Open Source software themselves, including various components built into Windows itself. Microsoft also have a page on Open Source Security which starts of with a section on the benefits of open source. Similarly, Google Open Source is a Google initiative “Bringing all the value of open source to Google and all the resources of Google to open source”.

The US Government runs Code.gov, a website documenting US government open source initiatives. US Government policy specifies that “Agencies must open source at least 20% of all new custom code created after August 2016.”. Similarly, The UK Government policy states: “Releasing government code under Open Source licenses increases transparency, collaboration and encourages good practices. The UK government made a commitment to making code open source by default at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris 2016.”

That’s all for this week. Remember, if you’re interested in taking advantage of the 50% off sale on Basic Training for NVDA, you need to jump on board this week. If you do, why not share your favourite tip or thing you’ve learnt in the NVDA user group.

In-Process 16th July 2021

Ven, 16/07/2021 - 06:02

The big news this week is the release of NVDA 2021.1. You’ve waited long enough, so let’s get into it:

NVDA 2021.1

NVDA 2021.1 is now available for all users. NVDA 2021.1 includes optional experimental support for UIA in Excel and Chromium browsers. There are fixes for several languages, and for accessing links in Braille. There are updates to Unicode CLDR, mathematical symbols, and LibLouis. As well as many bug fixes and improvements, including in Office, Visual Studio, and several languages. The full list of updates is in the NVDA 2021.1 Release Announcement.

It is important to note that NVDA 2021.1 breaks compatibility with existing add-ons. The good news is that most add-ons have already been updated! Unless you have the Add-on Updater add-on, you will need to update add-ons manually.

You can find most add-ons on the NVDA Community Add-ons Site. There is a page on the site listing the current status of each add-on.

A couple other third party add-ons worth noting:

NVDARemote NVDARemote has been updated and is available from the NVDARemote site. Note that there are two versions on the page, one for NVDA 2019.3 and later, and one for 2019.2 and earlier. The 2019.3 and later version has been updated to NVDA Remote 2.4. This version is compatible with NVDA 2021.1, as well as back to NVDA 2019.3

Code Factory’s Eloquence and Vocalizer

For all our Eloquence users, Code Factory’s Eloquence & Vocalizer Add-on has been updated. They also have two versions listed, the first one is compatible with NVDA 2021.1.

Code Factory also have a SAPI 5 version of Eloquence and Vocalizer. This works with any version of NVDA, including NVDA 2021.1.

Tiflotecnia Vocalizer

Tiflotecnia have also updated their Vocalizer for NVDA. You can find more information on the Tiflotecnia Vocalizer page.

To find out whether your favourite add-on has been updated, the community has a handy list of the Compatibility status of Add-ons.

UI Automation

One new experimental feature in NVDA 2021.1 is a bit of a mouthful. “Includes optional experimental support for UI Automation A in Excel and Chromium browsers”. This is not yet complete, so we don’t recommend it for most users yet. UI Automation is a term not everyone will be familiar with, so you may well be asking: Just what is it?

According to Microsoft, “UI Automation provides programmatic access to most user interface (UI) elements on the desktop, enabling assistive technology products such as screen readers to provide information about the UI to end users and to manipulate the UI by means other than standard input”.

Basically, UI Automation, or UIA, is one way NVDA uses to get information from programs. So, when you use control+right arrow to move right by one word, UIA tells NVDA what text exists so it knows where to go. If you press NVDA+f to read the formatting, UIA exposes the formatting to NVDA. There are other methods of finding out information about a program. MSAA and IA2 are other commonly used frameworks. Microsoft is moving away from MSAA / IA2 towards UIA.

Previously, NVDA has provided an option (in Advanced settings) to use UIA to access Microsoft Word documents. Because of the way Outlook works, this also includes email message bodies in Outlook. In NVDA 2021.1 we’ve added options to use UI Automation in more places. These include using UIA in Excel, and Chromium based browsers.

It’s important to note that UIA support is experimental, and not complete. Both NV Access and Microsoft have further work to do here. We look forward to improving it in future versions. For those who do try it, your feedback will be important in informing that work. The best way to provide feedback on NVDA’s UIA support is to file an NVDA Issue on GitHub.

In some cases, using UIA can give more information about a document than IA2 or other methods NVDA uses to find out about documents. This can mean, in some instances, even just for basic spreadsheets, the performance increase with using UIA may positively outweigh any missing features so far. In other cases, there may not be as much information available, and some missing features may be crucial to the task at hand. Choosing a method to use is a little like picking whether to listen to something on the radio or watch it on TV. If you use the radio, you can’t adjust the volume with the TV remote. You can’t take the best parts of each – you have to use all the features of one at a time.

NVDA does not use UIA by default, but the options are available in NVDA’s advanced settings. In some cases it can be worth trying them if something is not working in Word (or Excel). If you are unsure, ask in the NVDA user group or email us. We won’t turn these features on by default until we are satisfied that the experience is better for the majority of users most of the time.

For all the new features, fixes and changes in NVDA 2021.1, please see the NVDA 2021.1 What’s New document.

Thanks to Intopia

We would like to take this opportunity to thank one of our generous sponsors, Intopia. Intopia’s tagline is “We help organisations be more inclusive and accessible”. That philosophy fits in well with our own NV Access mission. Our aim is to lower the economic and social barriers associated with accessing Information Technology for people who are Blind or Vision Impaired. To aid lowering the barrier for those who are blind or vision impaired, we very much appreciate all our sponsors and donors. As you download NVDA 2021.1, we’d encourage you to consider becoming a monthly donor yourself. Of course only if your financial situation allows it. You can find out more on our Donation page.

If you are a new user to NVDA, you might instead consider purchasing our training material. It’s a great time, as the Basic Training for NVDA (electronic text) is still 50% off.

That’s all for this week, do join in the conversation in the NVDA users email group and let everyone know your favourite new feature in NVDA 2021.1.

NVDA 2021.1 Released

Lun, 12/07/2021 - 07:46

NV Access is pleased to announce that version 2021.1 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.

NVDA 2021.1 includes optional experimental support for UIA in Excel and Chromium browsers. There are fixes for several languages, and for accessing links in Braille. There are updates to Unicode CLDR, mathematical symbols, and LibLouis. As well as many bug fixes and improvements, including in Office, Visual Studio, and several languages.

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 2021.1

To find out what’s new in this release, please visit What’s new in NVDA 2021.1

Note:

  • If upgrading from Beta3 or Beta4, 2021.1 update must be installed manually.
  • This release breaks compatibility with existing add-ons.
  • This release also drops support for Adobe Flash.

Close-up photograph of NVDA logo in notification area.

NVDA 2021.1rc2 available for testing

Lun, 05/07/2021 - 10:16

Release Candidate 2 (RC2) of NVDA 2021.1 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 2021.1 release.

Changes from RC1:
  • Updates to translations.
Highlights

NVDA 2021.1 includes optional experimental support for UIA in Excel and Chromium browsers. There are fixes for several languages, and for accessing links in Braille. There are updates to Unicode CLDR, mathematical symbols, and LibLouis. As well as many bug fixes and improvements, including in Office, Visual Studio, and several languages.

Note:

  • If upgrading from Beta3 or Beta4, the RC1 update must be installed manually.
  • This release breaks compatibility with existing add-ons.
  • This release also drops support for Adobe Flash.
Links

NVDA 2021.1rc1 available for testing

Ven, 02/07/2021 - 12:20

The Release Candidate (RC) of NVDA 2021.1 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 2021.1 release.

Highlights

NVDA 2021.1 includes optional experimental support for UIA in Excel and Chromium browsers. There are fixes for several languages, and for accessing links in Braille. There are updates to Unicode CLDR, mathematical symbols, and LibLouis. As well as many bug fixes and improvements, including in Office, Visual Studio, and several languages.

Note:

  • If upgrading from Beta3 or Beta4, the RC1 update must be installed manually.
  • This release breaks compatibility with existing add-ons.
  • This release also drops support for Adobe Flash.
Links

In-Process 1st July 2021

Gio, 01/07/2021 - 04:14

Welcome to July! We’re halfway through 2021 already, how time flies! This week, we’ve got news on NVDA 2021.1 Release Candidate, Windows 11 and our Basic Training Sale. Plus, a tip on using Web Apps which have their own keystrokes with NVDA.

BREAKING NEWS: NVDA 2021.1 Release Candidate is now available. This post has been updated with information on the RC build now.

NVDA 2021.1 Release Candidate

We are still moving towards the next version of NVDA. We’re now up to the Release Candidate of NVDA 2021.1. There have been a few updates since Beta 3 which we covered last In-Process. There’s a fix for the Seika Braille driver and updates to translations. Also, we’ve fixed the bug which prevented users from updating from Beta 3 and Beta 4. If you are still using Beta 3 or Beta 4, you will need to download the new beta from the NVDA 2021.1 RC1 Release Announcement. But otherwise, everything should now work smoothly.

NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2021: Last chance

We’ve had a great response to the NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2021. But it must close soon. If you haven’t yet had your say, it’s only short and won’t take long. We encourage you to please complete The NVDA Satisfaction Survey 2021 in the next couple of days.

Basic Training still on sale

We’ve also had a great reaction to the sale on Basic Training for NVDA. It’s never been this low before and a lot of people are jumping on board! Basic Training is the premier training module to learn NVDA. Now is the cheapest time ever seen to improve your skills, but This Sale can’t last.

Windows 11

This week, Microsoft announced the next version of Windows: Windows 11. Joseph Lee put together some early impressions of the first insiders preview build of Windows 11 in a thread on the User Group.

Given how much of a refresh of the user interface Windows 11 is, it’s not surprising there are some differences. Getting to the list of “all apps” from the start menu, for instance, is a little different to Windows 10, but still works. The arrangement of settings has changed as well but still works. Windows+x shortcut keys don’t currently work, and Microsoft is aware of that issue. Joseph has updated his Windows App Essentials NVDA add-on (formerly Windows 10 App Essentials), to work around a couple of other issues. No doubt there will be lots more tips, tricks, and commentary from all sides as Windows 11 gets closer. Remember, Microsoft have only announced Windows 11, you can’t buy it in shops yet.

So, broadly, NVDA does work with this first build of Windows 11. There are a couple of issues, both accessible and general use. That is to be expected from most insider builds. Just like the beta releases of NVDA, Microsoft releases insider builds of Windows. These are intended for keen users to test and report back on any issues found. Like alpha and beta builds of NVDA, Windows Insider builds are early pre-releases. They are “Beta” software, and not recommended for most users, or on your main PC.

Have you tried the Windows 11 insider preview build? If you try it, please do jump into the NVDA Chat Group and share your findings.

Single letter navigation

One of the fixes we noted last time, introduced in NVDA 2021.1 Beta 3, was that J and K now work again in the Twitter app. In Twitter, both in the app and on the web, these keys jump between the next and the previous tweet. The Twitter app essentially acts like a web page. But there is a catch – covered in the Single Letter Navigation section of the NVDA User Guide. On the web, in browse mode (as NVDA will be until in the edit field to type a new tweet), NVDA is looking for K to move to the next link. Increasingly, complex web pages offer their own keystrokes to access features. Google Docs does this, as do Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook. Press NVDA+shift+spacebar to toggle NVDA’s single letter navigation on or off. Turning single letter navigation off lets you use a website or web app’s keyboard shortcuts.

That’s all for this week. We encourage everyone to try the NVDA 2021.1 Release Candidate and let us know how you find it! If you are tech savvy and interested, feel free to try the Windows 11 Insider Build. If you do, feel free to join the conversation in the NVDA Chat Group.