In-Process Archive

  1. In-Process 11th April 2018

    Welcome to another In-Process! The NV Access team are all well rested from CSUN. We’ve caught up on correspondence from while we were away, so thank you for your patience!

    Sight City and Babbage


    Just as Mick gets back into the swing of things back home, he will be packing again. This time for Frankfurt, Germany, to the Sight City conference.

    Mick will be attending Sight City with our good friends from Babbage. Mick and Babbage will run several seminars at Sight City. The seminars will outline how distributors can integrate NVDA into their business models. They will also demonstrate using NVDA with Citrix and remote desktop connections. If you are in Frankfurt between April 25 and 27, it is sure to be a great exhibition. Sight City is free to attend, and there is a pick-up service for vision-impaired visitors from the train station and the airport to the exhibition grounds.

    Many of our end users outside the Netherlands may not be familiar with who Babbage are. Babbage has been a fantastic supporter of NV Access and the NVDA project over the past year. Leonard de Ruijter, is a prolific contributor of both code and knowledge on GitHub issues. Leonard also represents Babbage on the NVDA Council. The council is an important mechanism to give external companies and stakeholders input into the direction of NVDA. Leonard and Babbage have contributed a lot of valuable input to NVDA and we thank them for their support.

    Multi-Category settings dialog


    One area Leonard has contributed a lot of code to, is NVDA’s new multi-category settings dialog. We are pleased to share this with you in our latest “Next” build. Remember that snapshot builds, particularly Next builds, are pre-release versions. Next builds may not be completely polished and may have bugs. One thing you may not realise, however, is that you can try out snapshot builds without affecting your stable installed copy of NVDA. Here are the steps:

    1. Download the snapshot build you would like to try.

    2. Run the executable and wait for the license agreement to be displayed.

    3. Press tab once and then spacebar to check the “I agree” button to accept the license agreement.

    4. Press alt+c to activate the “Continue running” button (or press tab to this button then enter).

    This will run the snapshot build so you can try out the new settings dialog or any other new features. Be sure to read the “What’s new” item in the help menu which will cover what has changed since the last major release.

    When you are done, simply exit NVDA (or shut down the computer). The next time you start your computer or run NVDA with control+alt+n, it will start your original, installed version.

    NVDA 2018.1.1


    There has been some confusion over the release of NVDA 2018.1.1. NVDA 2018.1.1 was released to fix one specific issue for Windows 10 users. For this reason, we set the download so that users on older operating systems running 2018.1 would not be prompted to update. This was because the new version didn’t change anything on those earlier systems. So if you are running 2018.1 on Windows 7 or 8, you are not missing anything. If you would still like the update, you can download it from the NVDA download page. Users on Windows 10 Spring Creators Update do need NVDA 2018.1.1 (or a newer Snapshot) to use Windows OneCore voices.

    Update to Eloquence

    The Eloquence synthesizer has long been a popular one with screen reader users. Code Factory’s bundle of Eloquence with Vocalizer for NVDA has made it a popular add-on. Recently, Code Factory released an update to this add-on. One of the important features in this version is a fix for an audio problem with Eloquence which affected some users. Anyone using Code Factory’s Voices for NVDA package is encouraged to update. You can download the latest version of the add-on from the Code Factory page.

    Access to equal information, a real-world example


    We always enjoy hearing from our users around the world. Today, I want to share a heartwarming message we received recently. It illustrates the importance that everyday access to technology for all users makes. An author wanted to share his autobiography with a blind friend but was unsure what format to send. He was amazed that the friend was able to read his original PDF version, including the image captions. Without even considering accessibility, the author and editor had simply followed standard guidelines. This had resulted in the file being formatted as a “tagged” PDF. This illustrates how important it is to embed accessibility in guidelines and procedures. It also demonstrates the need not only for universal access to technology but access to the same technology as everyone else. The author didn’t need to convert the text into a special format, and the NVDA user didn’t need any new software. Thanks to Margaret and Eric for sharing their story!

    That’s all for this week. If you have anything you’d like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter, Facebook, the E-Mail list, or e-mail.

  2. In-Process 29th March 2018

    Wow, March has been such a busy time, I just realised how long it has been since the last In-Process. I do apologise & hope you didn’t miss me too much!

    This past week, the NV Access team have been busy at the CSUN Adaptive Technology conference in San Diego California. During the week we had some very productive meetings with others in the industry. I’m sure many great things will come from it over the coming year.

    The NV Access team (Quentin, Mick and Reef) at CSUN 2018.

    The NV Access team (Quentin, Mick and Reef) at CSUN 2018.

    At the conference, NV Access delivered two very well received presentations. “Introducing the new NV Access and redesigned NVDA” covered recent developments. The new promotional video, the updated branding, and all the latest NVDA features were all covered. “Choosing and using NVDA” benefitted those new to screen readers and those supporting users. It covered tips such as downloading, setting up and customising voices, as well as how to work with magnification and where to find our VPAT. The slides from these presentations are available for those wishing to download them.

    Introducing the new NV Access and redesigned NVDA

    And

    Choosing and using NVDA

    The team have been very busy, and not only is 2018.1 now out, but we have a follow-up point release: 2018.1.1. In Windows 10’s March update, Microsoft have made a change to the bitrate of the OneCore voices. The new bitrate made them sound very odd in NVDA. Unfortunately, Microsoft made this change at the very last minute, in the final insider build before the public version. We were not expecting it when we released NVDA 2018.1. As users will likely receive the Windows update before NVDA 2018.2 we felt a mid-cycle release was necessary. Read the NVDA 2018.1.1 release notes and download the update.

    Finally this week I thought I’d share the full release notes from 2018.1 / 2018.1.1 but before I do, I thought you might like to prepare with this team selfie, looking combat-ready in the belly of a SH-3 Sea King helicopter. On our last day in San Diego we visited USS Midway aircraft carrier. This particular helicopter recovered the crews of five of the Apollo space missions.

    NV Access in a helicopter

    NV Access team (Reef, Mick, Quentin) in a helicopter on board USS Midway.

    Now, without any further ado, here are all the details from the “what’s new” file for NVDA 2018.1 / 2018.1.1:

    2018.1.1



    This is a special release of NVDA which addresses a bug in the Onecore Windows Speech synthesizer driver, which was causing it to speak with a higher pitch and speed in Windows 10 Redstone 4 (1803). (#8082)


    2018.1



    Highlights of this release include support for charts in Microsoft word and PowerPoint, support for new braille displays including Eurobraille and the Optelec protocol converter, improved support for Hims and Optelec braille displays, performance improvements for Mozilla Firefox 58 and higher, and much more.


    New Features



    • It is now possible to interact with charts in Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint, similar to the existing support for charts in Microsoft Excel. (#7046)

      • In Microsoft Word: When in browse mode, cursor to an embedded chart and press enter to interact with it.
      • In Microsoft PowerPoint when editing a slide: tab to a chart object, and press enter or space to interact with the chart.
      • To stop interacting with a chart, press escape.

    • New language: Kyrgyz.
    • Added support for VitalSource Bookshelf. (#7155)
    • Added support for the Optelec protocol converter, a device that allows one to use Braille Voyager and Satellite displays using the ALVA BC6 communication protocol. (#6731)
    • It is now possible to use braille input with an ALVA 640 Comfort braille display. (#7733)

      • NVDA’s braille input functionality can be used with these as well as other BC6 displays with firmware 3.0.0 and above.

    • Early support for Google Sheets with Braille mode enabled. (#7935)
    • Support for Eurobraille Esys, Esytime and Iris braille displays. (#7488)

    Changes



    • The HIMS Braille Sense/Braille EDGE/Smart Beetle and Hims Sync Braille display drivers have been replaced by one driver. The new driver will automatically be activated for former syncBraille driver users. (#7459)

      • Some keys , notably scroll keys, have been reassigned to follow the conventions used by Hims products. Consult the user guide for more details.

    • When typing with the on-screen keyboard via touch interaction, by default you now need to double tap each key the same way you would activate any other control. (#7309)

      • To use the existing “touch typing” mode where simply lifting your finger off the key is enough to activate it, Enable this option in the new Touch Interaction settings dialog found in the Preferences menu.

    • It is no longer necessary to explicitly tether braille to focus or review, as this will happen automatically by default. (#2385)

      • Note that automatic tethering to review will only occur when using a review cursor or object navigation command. Scrolling will not activate this new behavior.

    Bug Fixes



    • Browseable messages such as showing current formatting when pressing NVDA+f twice quickly no longer fails when NVDA is installed on a path with non-ASCII characters. (#7474)
    • Focus is now once again restored correctly when returning to Spotify from another application. (#7689)
    • In Windows 10 Fall Creaters Update, NVDA no longer fails to update when Controlled Folder Access is enabled from Windows Defender Security Center. (#7696)
    • Detection of scroll keys on Hims Smart Beetle displays is no longer unreliable. (#6086)
    • A slight performance improvement when rendering large amounts of content in Mozilla Firefox 58 and later. (#7719)
    • In Microsoft Outlook, reading emails containing tables no longer causes errors. (#6827)
    • Braille display gestures that emulate system keyboard key modifiers can now also be combined with other emulated system keyboard keys if one or more of the involved gestures are model specific. (#7783)
    • In Mozilla Firefox, browse mode now works correctly in pop-ups created by extensions such as LastPass and bitwarden. (#7809)
    • NVDA no longer sometimes freezes on every focus change if Firefox or Chrome have stopped responding such as due to a freeze or crash. (#7818)
    • In twitter clients such as Chicken Nugget, NVDA will no longer ignore the last 20 characters of 280 character tweets when reading them. (#7828)
    • NVDA now uses the correct language when announcing symbols when text is selected. (#7687)
    • In recent versions of Office 365, it is again possible to navigate Excel charts using the arrow keys. (#7046)
    • In speech and braille output, control states will now always be reported in the same order, regardless whether they are positive or negative. (#7076)
    • In apps such as Windows 10 Mail, NVDA will no longer fail to announce deleted characters when pressing backspace. (#7456)
    • All keys on the Hims Braille Sense Polaris displays are now working as expected. (#7865)
    • NVDA no longer fails to start on Windows 7 complaining about an internal api-ms dll, when a particular version of the Visual Studio 2017 redistributables have been installed by another application. (#7975)

    Changes for developers



    • Added a hidden boolean flag to the braille section in the configuration: “outputPass1Only”. (#7301, #7693, #7702)

      • This flag defaults to true. If false, liblouis multi pass rules will be used for braille output.

    • A new dictionary (braille.RENAMED_DRIVERS) has been added to allow for smooth transition for users using drivers that have been superseded by others. (#7459)
    • Updated comtypes package to 1.1.3. (#7831)
    • Implemented a generic system in braille.BrailleDisplayDriver to deal with displays which send confirmation/acknowledgement packets. See the handyTech braille display driver as an example. (#7590, #7721)
    • A new “isAppX” variable in the config module can be used to detect if NVDA is running as a Windows Desktop Bridge Store app. (#7851)
    • For document implementations such as NVDAObjects or browseMode that have a textInfo, there is now a new documentBase.documentWithTableNavigation class that can be inherited from to gain standard table navigation scripts. Please refer to this class to see which helper methods must be provided by your implementation for table navigation to work. (#7849)
    • The scons batch file now better handles when Python 3 is also installed, making use of the launcher to specifically launch python 2.7 32 bit. (#7541)
    • hwIo.Hid now takes an additional parameter exclusive, which defaults to True. If set to False, other applications are allowed to communicate with a device while it is connected to NVDA. (#7859)

    Phew, there’s quite a bit there! Happy Easter!

  3. In-Process 23rd February 2018

    Hi everyone,

    Hasn’t February been a busy month so far? So busy, in fact, that I’m a week behind in posting In-Process!

    What has kept us busy? One reason is that last weekend, the staff and board of NV Access all got together in Brisbane to catch up on what has been happening over the past year, and plan where we are going.

    Statistics


    In considering where we are and where we are heading, here are some interesting statistics about NVDA:

    Our Top 10 download countries: India, United States, Brazil, Russian Federation, France, United Kindom, Germany, Poland, Canada, Argentina.

    We are still seeing a major spike in India, and it’s also great to see Canada in the top 10 as well!

    2017.3 was downloaded over 162,000 times with 66% due to updates, thus about 107,000 active users.

    The update server is detecting around 34,000 users per day running NVDA connected to the internet. This doesn’t account for companies and individuals who have disabled update checking, or those without access to the Internet.

    There have been a number of changes to the screen reader market recently, which has seen an increase in demand for NVDA. Our users have once again risen to the challenge, producing the “Switching from Window-Eyes to NVDA” guide, to sit next to the already popular “Switching from Jaws to NVDA” guide.

    In the recent WebAIM screen reader user survey, NVDA more than doubled its percentage of users who use it as their primary screen reader, compared to the previous year’s survey, moving to a clear second position.

    When looking at which screen reader users commonly use, nearly 2/3 of respondents commonly use NVDA.

    There are an estimated 39 million blind people around the world and an estimated 285 million blind and vision impaired people, yet anecdotally only 400,000 screen reader users. That means there is a large number of people yet to be reached. NVDA is no longer just about creating something so that more people can get access to computers. That is still important, however, current and future users are also relying on NVDA to continue to exist until it is not needed. NVDA is filling a bigger gap than ever before.

    NV Access Video


    NV Access has a new video. It is designed not only to showcase NVDA, but also the crucial need around the world that a free and open source screenreader fills. View the video on our YouTube channel.

    NVDACon – call for submissions


    Preparations are underway for this year’s NVDACon. The NVDACon International planning committee would like to invite you to submit topics for the upcoming conference. NVDACon will be held in May or June of 2018. The date and agenda will be released at a future time.
    If you are a business, organization or individual that is passionate about a topic related to accessibility, please submit your topic by March 17th, 2018. If you have any questions or would like to submit a topic, please contact info@nvdacon.org. For more information, please see the NVDACon website.

    NVDA 2018.1rc1


    Finally, because you know I like to keep you in suspense, the first release of NVDA for 2018 is now very close! So close, in fact, that you can download the Release Candidate build right this very minute! The release candidate is a version we release just before a new version. All going well, the final, stable version will be identical to the release candidate. The idea is that more people will try the release candidate than our usual snapshot (beta) builds. If any big problems are found, we can then quickly release a second release candidate with a fix before the final version a week or so later. So without further ado, here is the NVDA 2018.1rc1 (release candidate) announcement.

    That’s all for today. Have a great weekend, and I look forward to giving a full recap of what is new in NVDA 2018.1 next time around.

  4. In-Process 1st February 2018

    Well, the first month of the year is already over, and hopefully, our werewolf followers didn’t get up to too much mischief during last night’s super-blue-blood-moon spectacular!

    Here at NV Access, we’ve been busy working on the next version of NVDA, so I thought I’d share a couple of things which are coming up in 2018.1:

    Charts in Microsoft Word

    Pie chart in Word with title “Are you looking forward to NVDA 2018.1? 80% shows “Yes”, 20% shows “Yes, but in orange” and there are unused data points for “Maybe, I mean, yes” and “Mmm, pie”

    Firstly, it is now possible to interact with charts in Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint, similar to the existing support for charts in Microsoft Excel. The process varies slightly between programs, but broadly, navigate to the chart and press ENTER. When done, press ESCAPE to finish. Also, for recent Office 365 versions of Microsoft Excel, it is again possible to navigate charts using the arrow keys.

    When typing with the on-screen keyboard via touch interaction, by default you now need to double tap each key the same way you would activate any other control. If you prefer the existing “touch typing” mode where simply lifting your finger off the key is enough to activate it, enable this option in the new Touch Interaction settings dialog found in the Preferences menu.

    It is no longer necessary to explicitly tether braille to focus or review, as this will happen automatically by default. Note that automatic tethering to review will only occur when using a review cursor or object navigation command. Scrolling will not activate this new behaviour.

    In Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, NVDA no longer fails to update when Controlled Folder Access is enabled from Windows Defender Security Center.

    A heap of bug fixes, Braille improvements and other tidbits.

    There is also a slight performance improvement when rendering large amounts of content in Mozilla Firefox 58 and later. Mozilla released Firefox 58 recently, which addresses many of the problems they introduced in Firefox 57. Marco Zehe from Mozilla’s accessibility team has more information on Marco’s Accessibility Blog. He details improvements in Firefox 58, current issues and where things are headed with Firefox. It is well worth a read.

    We get queries from time to time from those interested in learning to develop for NVDA, or who just want to know the best environment to use for programming in Python. Python is the main language the majority of NVDA is written in.

    There are many tutorials on the web to help you learn Python. As with many languages, you can either use an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) or write the code in your favourite text editor. Up until recently, most IDEs were largely inaccessible. Most NVDA users who write in Python tend to use their favourite text editor. Notepad++ has been a popular choice, but even regular Notepad which comes with Windows will do the job. In the latest versions of Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft have made great progress in the accessibility of the editor, and it is now another option if you are interested in writing in an IDE. The advantage of an IDE is it can make it easier to work on a project by automating some of the tasks for you.

    If you are interested in coding for NVDA, be sure to check out our NVDA Developer Guide and the NVDA developers’ e-mail list.

    On learning to program in Python itself, if you do know of a great tutorial for those interested in learning from scratch, please do let me know and I’ll share it here in a future In-Process.

    Finally, back to the question I know you are really interested in – when is NVDA 2018.1 due out? Well, we’re about to enter translation freeze, after which, no new features will be added to 2018.1. This allows the translators to finish updating their translations in time for the final release of 2018.1. So, about the time the next In-Process comes out, in a fortnight or a few days later, the first Release Candidate for NVDA 2018.1 should be available. The final version of NVDA 2018.1 will be out a week or so after that unless any major issues are found. To help identify any potential issues early, do feel free to grab a copy of the current “Master” build from the Snapshots page, as that is very close to what the release candidate build will be like. Of course, if you do identify any issues, please do report them on our GitHub page. If you are reporting an issue specific to the snapshot build, if you could confirm whether it is specific to the latest build, something new since the last stable build, or something since you’ve updated another program, that would really help us track it down.

    Until next time, enjoy your February!

  5. NVDA In-Process 16 January 2018

    Happy New Year everyone and a warm welcome to 2018!

    Well, it’s been a month since I last wrote. In that time, the NV Access team have been very busy relaxing, spending time with loved ones and eating too much! Well, speaking for myself at least… We hope you have also enjoyed your time since our last post.

    January 2018 calendar

    January 2018 calendar

    So, there isn’t a lot of news this time around. There are a couple of things I wanted to mention briefly:

    Firstly, if you’ve written to us over the Christmas / New Year period, thank you – we love hearing from our users! If we haven’t replied yet, it’s because we only started back at work this week. We will get back to you shortly.

    Along the same lines, we’re only just starting to catch up on what’s been going on in the NVDA user’s e-mail list and GitHub. If you’ve been active in either of those forums lately, we haven’t forgotten you!

    As we head into a new year, we’d love to hear those feature ideas you’ve had over the holiday period, or reports of bugs you’ve found. Do keep reporting issues on GitHub and discussing them in the user’s e-mail list!

    Finally, while we’ve been on leave, others have been hard at work. There have been updates to many of your favourite add-ons. Companies like Microsoft have sent out updates to Windows and Office. Some of these updates were due to address various issues which have previously been reported. How are you finding them? Join the conversation in the e-mail list.

    That’s about all for this week. Do join me again towards the end of the month as we start to – already – gear up for 2018.1!

  6. In-Process 13th December 2017

    Welcome to the very last In-Process for 2017! Wow, what a year it’s been. 24 issues of In-Process since it started on the 30th January, over 18,000 words, 4 NVDA releases (and hundreds of snapshot builds for those interested in trying pre-release features). We’ve had a lot of great community discussion, participation and fun. We’ve been to NVDACon, joined Joseph Lee’s DevLearning group to learn to write add-ons and represented at various conferences and speaking opportunities. Of course, the best promotion we could hope for is the wonderful advocacy that you, our fantastic community do naturally every day! Thank-you, one and all for all your enthusiasm for NVDA and support of NV Access in 2017!

    The year isn’t over just yet and there are still exciting things going on to share. The most noteworthy this fortnight being the release of NVDA 2017.4. Thank you to everyone who tried “Next” and “Master” snapshots, and more recently the “Release Candidate” builds. You have helped to make NVDA 2017.4 an exciting release to end the year on.

    There are a couple of things to be aware of with NVDA 2017.4. This release now requires Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or later. Although newer Windows 7 CDs should include SP1, if you are reinstalling from an older CD or image, it may not, and NVDA 2017.4 won’t install until SP1 is installed.

    A number of users have experienced various random things not working correctly just after installing NVDA and before restarting the computer. Often NVDA will run fine straight after installing, but particularly with 2017.4, we recommend restarting the computer after installing.

    This release we have also updated the eSpeak NG synthesizer from 1.49.1 to 1.49.2. While this has fixed some issues with eSpeak NG, some users have reported new issues in various languages. Although issues with eSpeak NG specifically need to be addressed by the eSpeak NG project, do keep reporting them to us as well as it’s good for us to be aware of the issues. You can report issues with eSpeak NG directly to the eSpeak NG project on GitHub.

    The NV Access team are taking time off over Christmas. While we won’t be as closely monitoring e-mail or social media, we want to encourage everyone to be active in the user E-mail group. The group is a great way to chat to other users, get help with problems, share tips and ideas and receive assistance. Join the e-mail group on Groups.io. If you do have something that needs attention from the NV Access team, email us and we will get to it as quickly as possible upon our return mid-January.

    The NVDA Expert (with Microsoft Word) certification has proven quite challenging for users. For those who have sat the exam so far, we’d be happy to get feedback on how you found the exam – is it harder than expected, easier? How does it compare to the original in terms of difficulty? For those who haven’t yet sat the exam, perhaps our Official training materials or becoming one of the first NVDA Expert (with Microsoft Word) certification holders is on your Christmas wish list?

    Remember before completing the NVDA Expert (with Microsoft Word) certification, you need to pass the original NVDA Expert certification.

    To end the year, here are some more statistics for 2017?


    • NVDA 2017.3 was downloaded over 153000 times with 70% of downloads due to automatic updates.

    • NVDA 2017.4 has already been downloaded over 34000 times, with 90% of these downloads due to automatic updates.

    • The top 4 countries using NVDA are India, the United States, Brazil and France. Most notably is India which has had a massive growth of over 8000 active users just in the last quarter.

    And finally, a very big thank you to our wonderful donors!


    • Users from the United Kingdom are the most likely to donate when downloading NVDA.

    • We currently have 170 active monthly donors.

    • You can donate as much or as little as you like, and you can make it a one-off donation, or a regular monthly contribution


    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year from all of us at NV Access! We look forward to continuing with you on your journey in 2018!

    Merry Christmas 2017

    Merry Christmas 2017

  7. In-Process 30th November 2017

    Can you believe it is nearly December already? There’s a certain anticipation in the air; an excitement building; time to start thinking about presents…. That’s right, it’s RC time! Which means we are VERY close to the gift of a new version of NVDA.

    With NVDA 2017.4 in the final phases of testing, we invite you to download the current “Release Candidate” build. Release Candidate 3 was released on 30th November 2017.

    Some of the highlights of NVDA 2017.4 are:

    • Windows XP and Vista are no longer supported.
    • Elements list includes form fields and buttons
    • Early support for Kindle books with accessible math
    • Support for the Azardi book reader
    • Screen orientation & charger connect / disconnect reported
    • Support for the Macedonian language
    • Can use o and shift+o for embedded video and audio in Browse mode

    Not to mention all the usual improvements, fixes and updates. Edge works better than ever. There are new Braille translation tables (Croatian grade 1 and Vietnamese grade 1). Browse mode works a little more intelligently, and heaps more.

    To see the full list of changes, run NVDA 2017.4rc3, and then read the “What’s new”:

    1. Press NVDA+n to open the NVDA menu (remember the NVDA key will either be INSERT or CAPS LOCK).
    2. Press H for help
    3. Press N for “What’s new” – or down arrow to that option and press enter.

    As we usually do, the RC, or release candidate builds come out a couple of weeks before the final stable build. All going well, this third RC build will be the same as the final version (except for the “rc3” in the version number). You do need to manually download and install the release candidate builds. When the full version comes out, both stable and release candidate builds of NVDA will prompt to update (if update checking is enabled on the general options screen). Since Windows XP is no longer supported, the update will detect if it is running on XP and will not install. If you are not already on NVDA 2017.3, (the last version to support XP), you will be invited to install that version.

    Microsoft has introduced several new security features recently. One of which is Windows Defender Application Guard. This is a way of isolating websites in Edge to prevent them from taking advantage of exploits. NVDA 2017.4 is able to work in Edge when Windows Defender Application Guard is enabled.

    Another new security feature in Windows 10 is Controlled Folder Access. Designed to stop malware, it prevents programs from accessing secure Windows folders. This feature is disabled by default. If enabled, one limitation is that when you install or update programs, they won’t be able to create a shortcut on the desktop. This is also the case for NVDA. We recommend disabling Controlled Folder Access (if enabled), before installing or upgrading NVDA.

    Still on Windows 10, someone recently asked about our post from early 2016, when we recommended waiting before upgrading to Windows 10. At the time, we had concerns about the usability of the new Edge browser and other applications such as Mail. Although many users prefer Firefox (and currently we recommend the ESR version) or Chrome, Edge support has come a long way. Edge support is once again improved in NVDA 2017.4. Mail is also much more accessible than it was early last year. Microsoft have worked to resolve issues raised by NV Access, and others, in Windows 10.

    When Windows 10 was released, Microsoft offered a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 and 8 for the first year. When that offer expired, Microsoft acknowledged the concerns of NV Access and others around the readiness of Windows 10 for assistive technology users. Microsoft announced that they would continue to hold open the free upgrade offer to users of assistive technology for a limited time. Microsoft has advised that this free upgrade offer will end for ALL users on 31st December 2017. So, before the free upgrade offer ends, we’d like to reiterate that we are confident that Windows 10 with NVDA 2017.4 provides a very usable computer experience. Having said that, in deciding whether to upgrade, it is still worth considering:

    • Does your hardware support Windows 10? Not only the PC, but your printer, speakers, braille display and anything else you use.
    • Does your software work on Windows 10? If you are using older software, it may not work under the new operating system. For Office, Microsoft state that Office 2010 and later work on Windows 10. Office 2007 hasn’t officially been tested, but does run, and no claims are made about Office 2003 or earlier.
    • Are you confident doing an upgrade of Windows yourself? If you pay a computer shop to do the upgrade for you, then that is a cost you will need to take into consideration. If you are confident in your technical skill, NVDA will work up until the computer restarts during the upgrade. After restarting, use Windows+control+enter to run Narrator, and then use NVDA again once the upgrade finishes. Your documents and programs should still all be available after the upgrade. It is advisable to back everything up before you start in any case.

    Finally, on the Release Candidate builds, in the User’s E-Mail list, a couple of users have reported that after upgrading to the RC builds, NVDA no longer starts up when they log in to Windows. We haven’t tracked down exactly why this occurs for some users, but if it happens to you, the fix is to start NVDA manually, then go into the general settings and enable “Automatically start NVDA after I log on to Windows”. To do this:

    1. Press control+alt+n to start NVDA.
    2. Press NVDA+control+g to open the general settings.
    3. Press tab until the focus is on “Automatically start NVDA after I log on to Windows”.
    4. Press spacebar to toggle the setting. Ensure that it is “checked” if you want NVDA to start after you log in.
    5. Press enter to save the setting and close the dialog box.

    In other news, Mick and Quentin have both been allowed out in public recently. Mick ran a session on NVDA at OZeWAI: The Australian Web Adaptability Initiative conference in Canberra 20-22 November 2017. Quentin went to the Statewide Vision Resource Centre (SVRC) Expo in Donvale (Victoria) and also presented a session. Everyone wants to know about NVDA, and the audiences at both events were large and very interested. Do you know of an event being organised that would benefit from the NV Access touch? Let us know! We can’t promise to attend everything, but we have a much higher attendance rate at events we were aware of than those we didn’t know about.

    Quentin speaking at SVRC

    Quentin speaking at SVRC Expo 2017, courtesy of http://svrc.vic.edu.au/

    Lastly, a reminder that NV Access is still on the lookout for a QA Engineer. If you have the skills and can work in Australia, or know someone who might be interested, we’re still taking applications.

    That’s all for today. Enjoy the start of your December and we’ll be back again before Christmas!

  8. In-Process 16th November 2017

    There were some enthusiastic responses to the Halloween In-Process challenge last time. Thanks to everyone who participated, and to those of you who simply enjoyed the entries. All those who participated get a free copy of NVDA 2017.3! *grin*

    If you are also enthusiastic about NVDA, live in Australia, and have the right skills, we are looking for you! That’s right; NV Access is hiring a QA Engineer. Please see our notice for all the information and how to apply.

    In our last edition, we warned of the issues with Firefox 57 for screen reader users. Since then, Marco Zehe, Accessibility QA for Mozilla, makers of Firefox, has written a blog post on the issues with Firefox 57. Marco outlines the direction Mozilla are taking Firefox, and why that has initially caused issues. he also details where they are at with addressing those. The good news is that Firefox 58 significantly reduces the sluggishness introduced in Firefox 57 and Firefox 59 will improve on that again. Users at this point may wish to either revert to the extended support release version of Firefox, or for the technophiles, there is both a beta and a nightly channel of Firefox which are already seeing some of the upcoming improvements.

    NVDA Certification has been extremely popular and has rapidly become an industry benchmark in testing screen reader knowledge. NV Access are very pleased to announce that we have added a second component to our certification system: NVDA Expert (with Microsoft Word). Based largely on the highly regarded “Microsoft Word with NVDA”, this second certification covers most skills likely to be required in using the popular Microsoft Word program with NVDA. As with the original certification, purchase of the training material (while extremely beneficial) is not required. You do need to have passed the original NVDA Expert certification prior to sitting the NVDA Expert (with Microsoft Word) certification. As with the original certification, you can find all the details on the certification page. You can also find a list of certified experts, along with contact details, where supplied, and what each individual is certified in.

    Next up this week, I thought I’d put in a refresher on how to adjust the speech in NVDA.

    There are two main places which control the speech in NVDA. The “Synthesizer” is the software that reads the text aloud, and the “Voice settings” control how the speech sounds.

    When NVDA wants to read something aloud, it essentially says to the synthesizer “read this text”. Just as if you gave someone a piece of paper with writing on it and asked them to read it aloud, it would be largely up to them to work out how to pronounce everything.

    The synthesizer that comes with NVDA is eSpeak NG. This is an open source synthesizer we can distribute for free. One of the big advantages of it is that for those who understand it, eSpeak NG can read at very high speech rates. Windows also comes with at least one synthesizer. Windows 10 comes with “Windows OneCore Voices”; earlier versions of Windows come with “Microsoft Speech API Version 5”. Both of these are more human sounding than eSpeak NG, but may not work as well at high speech rates. You can also download or purchase additional synthesizers which some users prefer. To set the synthesizer that NVDA uses, press NVDA+control+s or choose “Synthesizer” from NVDA’s preferences menu.

    On this screen, you can also select the output device. This setting can almost always be left alone. Where you might want to change it could be if you wanted the regular computer sounds (music, videos, etc) to come out of a speaker, and NVDA to come through headphones. Be sure you know what output devices you have before changing this setting, otherwise, you could end up with no speech. On the synthesizer screen, you can also select “audio ducking” on Windows 8 and 10. This controls whether the volume of other sounds (such as music or videos) is reduced while NVDA is speaking (or all the time while NVDA is running, or not at all).

    The second group of options which control speech is the Voice settings. The Voice settings allow you to control options such as the speech rate, the pitch and how much punctuation is read aloud. Many synthesizers come with multiple voices. In some synthesizers, such as the Windows OneCore and SAPI 5 voices, these include both male and female sounding voices with different accents. Some synthesizers, such as eSpeak NG, allow you to control both the voice (accent) and variant (various male and female-sounding voices).

    Choosing a voice with a foreign accent is mostly useful for reading text in that language, as that voice will be setup to pronounce words (or letter groups) as they are commonly pronounced in that language.

    The exact options available can vary between synthesizers (many don’t have “variant”, for instance, only “voice”). To open the Voice settings dialog, press NVDA+control+v or choose “Voice settings” from NVDA’s preferences menu.

    You can also adjust some of the common voice settings “on the fly” (without needing to go into the settings) using the Synth Settings Ring. Press NVDA+control+left or right arrow to select a setting, then NVDA+control+up arrow to increase or NVDA+control+down arrow to decrease. The initial voice setting is the rate. You can also adjust the voice, variant, pitch, inflection and volume using NVDA+control+left or right arrow. If using NVDA in laptop keyboard layout, these commands are NVDA+shift+control+arrows. Again, not all options are available for all synthesizers.

    I hope you found that useful. If you’ve got any other questions about synthesizers, voices, or anything else NVDA, the best place to ask is the NVDA Users E-Mail list in the first instance.

    Finally, the question everyone wants to know the answer to, when is 2017.4 coming out? The release candidate is due out very shortly, and so following on from that, the final stable release should be out, around the time you are next reading In-Process!

  9. (Updated) In-Process Halloween 2017: Firefox 57, Windows Fall Creators Update, Australian NDIS and more

    Welcome to In-Process for Halloween, 31st October 2017.

    For those reading this for the first time, read on! For those who have read it previously, the update is that I’ve included some of the community contributions for Halloween at the bottom.

    We hope you enjoyed the choose your own adventure episode last time!

    There has been a lot of talk in the community lately about Mozilla’s soon to be released update to the popular Firefox web browser. The changes in Firefox 57, known as Firefox Quantum are designed to improve the speed and security of the browser. This, unfortunately, also impacts on the user experience for screen reader users. At this stage, NV Access is recommending that users switch to using Firefox’s Extended Support Release (ESR) version, and avoiding 57 until it is suitable for use with NVDA.

    You can download Firefox ESR here.

    Speaking of updates, the Windows 10 “Fall creators update” has started rolling out, as noted in our last edition. While NVDA is compatible with the update, it is recommended that you have “Controlled folder access” disabled while installing or updating NVDA. Controlled folder access is a new feature in the Fall Creator’s update. It is designed to prevent malware and particularly ransomware, from accessing system folders and user files. When enabled, however, many programs, including NVDA, encounter errors when installing. NVDA can install, however it is unable to create a desktop shortcut, and gives an error. Once NVDA has been installed or updated, the feature does not interfere with NVDA.

    Disability services in Australia are transitioning to a new model, known as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Participants can use their NDIS plan to purchase equipment and services. NV Access is pleased to announce that we have registered as an NDIS provider. This means that NVDA telephone support and training modules can be purchased under the NDIS and is a great benefit to users in Australia.

    Did you know we offered telephone support? That’s right, from the NV Access shop, you can purchase anywhere from half an hour, up to ten hours of personal NVDA telephone support. Once purchased, you will be sent instructions, including local telephone numbers in both the United States of America, and Australia.

    Remember, you can also get support from our growing pool of NVDA Certified Experts. When someone completes the NVDA Certified Expert exam and purchases their listing and certificate, they can also include contact details. Feel free to browse the listing at https://certification.nvaccess.org/ to find a certified expert near you.

    To end this Halloween edition of In-Process, I thought I’d share a spooky recording that suddenly and mysteriously found its way to my computer today.

    Ok, that’s not overly spooky. So now it’s your turn! Get creative with NVDA for Halloween! Share your best efforts and be sure to tag @NVAccess on Twitter!

    UPDATE:
    Wow, you are a creative bunch!

    Toutauclavier’s NVDA is being VERY spooky and creative:

    They tweeted: “Hey @NVAccess my NVDA has a strange behaviour for halloween… You can ear the problem here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/ja9ew57xtht2cgq/NVDA%20Halloween.mp3?dl=0 #BestEfforts”

    Derek Riemer made a whole addon! Tweeting “Nv Access told us to see what Halloween fun we could have with NVDA. Here’s my boo NVDA addon! https://files.derekriemer.com/boo.nvda-addon
    @NVAccess”

    Be careful, it can make you jump randomly!

    Wow, great efforts! Whether it’s still Halloween in your part of the world or not, feel free to keep creating, tag NV Access and I’ll update this post as needed.

  10. In-Process “Choose-your-own-adventure!” edition

    Welcome to In-Process

    This week, as hinted, is the In-Process choose your own adventure edition! The instructions assume you are using NVDA (in Browse mode). In any case, you can read it from start to finish if you prefer.

    So, let’s start your adventure!

    The Cave

    You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.

    To the east is a metropolis. To the south is a portal which will bring you back here.

    To go East, press 2. To go South, press SHIFT+3.

    Metropolis

    You visit Melbourne, the city of coffee! To the south is the Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) convention. Mick, Quentin and one of our board members, Mat attended the BCA Convention last weekend. Mick and Mat were on a panel discussing “Getting a job, what works?” Their stories and those of the other participants were of great benefit to the attendees.

    To the north is a forest. To the east, is a discount store.

    To head North, press 2. To head East, press 1.

    Discount store

    You find a key!

    On the key is a code “BCA2017”. To use the key, go to the NV Access Shop and enter the code at the checkout within the next week.

    To head North-west, press 2. To explore the room further, press SHIFT+1.

    North

    You find yourself in a green forest. A sign reads, “Welcome to LibreOffice country!”.

    We know many of our users are passionate about supporting open source software. Working better in LibreOffice is something we often get asked about. We don’t currently have any new resources to devote to this, however, we are evaluating the issues users have with LibreOffice and NVDA. If you have encountered any problems, please do let us know. You can either file an issue on GitHub, or e-mail Quentin as he is currently collating them.

    To the west, you hear dulcet tones echoing over a mountain range. To the north, you see snow.

    To head West, press 2. To head North, press 3.

    Snow

    You hear a booming voice say “Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s not Christmas yet. I’ll see you in a couple of months. For now, the code from the discount store is your present.

    To head South-west to the mountains, press 2. To head to the discount store, press SHIFT+1.

    Mountains

    You climb the mountain. At the top, you find three copies of “Basic Training for NVDA”. This resource is very popular and is available in electronic text, audio and Braille. You examine the three formats:
    – The electronic text is in a zip file. HTML format works in any web browser. DOCX is readable in Microsoft Word. ePub is a popular electronic book format. The KFX format works in the Amazon Kindle app and can be read with NVDA.
    – The Braille format comes in hard-copy braille, posted free with tracking. It can travel pretty much anywhere in the world!
    – The audio is packaged as Daisy MP3 downloadable directly after buying. Daisy is a standard for audio books, used in many players such as the Victor Stream and the Plextalk Pocket. See the user manual for your device for how to copy the material onto it.

    If you are using an iPhone or iPad, did you know that you can upload the book to your iTunes library to listen to? Apple has instructions on uploading audio to your iTunes account.

    Remember, head to the NV Access Shop to get the material and use the key you found earlier to unlock secret treasures!

    To the west, you see a vibrant city. To the north, you smell bacon!

    To search for the key, press SHIFT+1. To head west, press 2. To head north, press 3.

    Bacon!

    You find a poem on a scrap of papyrus. A narrator, standing behind a tree with a megaphone reads it to you:

    Ode to bacon:

    Oh bacon, I love thee,

    For you are so delicious!

    All I wish to eat every day,

    Is bacon!

    “Ah”, the narrator says, sighing wistfully, “I love a nice rhyming bacon poem, don’t you? Look, I’d love to stay, but I’m a bit peckish now, you’ll have to do the rest of the adventure on your own, ok?”

    The narrator exits to the North.

    To the south-west is a vibrant city. (But why leave when there is bacon here?)

    To head south-west, press 2. To stay here and enjoy the wonderful poem again, press SHIFT+3.

    The vibrant city

    You enter the vibrant city. A technology giant strides up to you, bestowing gifts of a beret and a key. You examine the key, different to the first, this key appears to be constructed of solid USB. On the side of the USB key is the inscription “Fall Creators Update”. Bemoaning the decline of the possessive apostrophe, you pocket the key.

    Microsoft has just released the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Those on Windows 10 can expect to this update gradually roll out over the next few weeks or so. If you are keen to get it as soon as possible, never fear! This notice we found nailed to a tree may help.

    NVDA 2017.3 works well with the Fall Creators Update, so there is no reason, on that front, not to upgrade. As always, if you do encounter any problems, please do either Create an issue on GitHub or E-Mail us

    For those still on Windows 7 or 8, Microsoft today tweeted that “If you’re using assistive technologies and want to update to Windows 10, free upgrade available until Dec. 31, 2017.

    You place the beret on your head at a jaunty angle. To sit and watch the sunset, press 2. To enter a music shop, press 3.

    Music Shop

    Entering the music shop, you spy an old man with a twinkle in his eye. Although you have never seen him before, he appears to have been expecting you. The shopkeeper ushers you past the guitars, pianos and glockenspiels. He takes you up a dimly lit staircase to a dusty room. From a cupboard, he carefully pulls a simple, yet beautiful lute. Returning it to its case, he hands it to you, and ushers you out of the shop, all without a word.

    Although you were only in the shop for what seemed like minutes, the sun is now setting. You sit on a bench and play the lute. Passers-by drop coins into the case, and you use the money to buy a delicious bacon snack!

    Sunset

    You adjust your cap from a jaunty angle to a rakish angle, and head for the beach. Sitting by the water, you think that this has been a very productive trip. A Viking longship glides towards you, as if to a schedule. You board and sail peacefully home.

    The end

    Wow, thanks for a great adventure. I hope you enjoyed it. Do come back again next time (although I can’t promise a choose your own adventure every time!)