In-Process 14th May 2020

Welcome to another In-Process, and to May! The big news this time around (aside from having survived April) is the release of NVDA 2020.1. Let’s start there:

NVDA 2020.1

NVDA 2020.1 is now available. Highlights of this release include support for several new braille displays from HumanWare and APH. Plus many other important bug fixes such as the ability to again read math in Microsoft Word using MathPlayer / MathType.

While a much smaller update than 2019.3, this does bring fixes and features which should make life a bit easier. Staying awake during say all and better checkbox state reporting are two such fixes. For those using Mastadon, there is better timeline rendering in Firefox. For some users, being able to do a right mouse click on a touch screen with a one finger tap and hold will be really useful. For others, new bugs cause errors never seen before. No, wait, that last one isn’t supposed to be there! If you DO find any bugs, do please either Report Issues on GitHub, or Let Us Know. You can also ask on the NVDA Users Mailing List if you’re unsure.

To find out more, read the full release notes and Download NVDA 2020.1 from the Release Announcement

A quick reminder, when you update, it’s a good idea to restart the computer from the shut down menu. This ensures that everything gets initialised properly. It can cut down on random issues which crop up between updating something and restarting the PC. If you do encounter a weird bug, try restarting the PC to see if that fixes it. Also, press NVDA+Q then down arrow to “Restart with add-ons disabled” and press ENTER. This narrows down whether an issue is likely to be in NVDA or in an add-on.

Also a reminder that if you are in a position to help, now is a great time to consider becoming a Monthly NV Access Donor. It helps us continue to ensure we can provide the world’s favourite screen-reader to all who need it free of charge. It is also tax-deductible in some jurisdictions (Australia at least – see your local tax agency for local rules).

Google Summer of Code

As Reported in March NV Access is a Google Summer of Code (GSOC) 2020 Mentor Organisation.

After considering all the excellent applications, we are pleased to introduce our mentoree. On behalf of NV Access I would like to officially welcome Shubham Jain to the NVDA project. Shubham joins us as our Google Summer of Code 2020 student.

Between now and the end of August, Shubham will be working on “Image captioning and Object recognition modules for NVDA”. Read Shubham’s Project Abstract on GSOC

Please join me in making Shubham welcome!

NVDA Contributor Honoured

Congratulations today also to Joseph Lee. As well as being a prolific NVDA Contributor, Joseph Lee is a graduating college debate and speech champion. Joseph was recently named American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) All-American. Only fifteen people receive this prestigious honour across the whole United States of America for the year. The award recognizes graduating and would-be graduating college speech and debate competitors who have shown excellence in speech competitions, college studies, and community service. As far as we can find out, Joseph appears to be the first blind recipient of this honour, in the history of this award. If you’ve ever participated in any of the NVDA Forums, then you’ll have read Joseph’s insightful knowledge. If you’ve ever been to one of Joseph’s speeches or debates, you have likely heard him champion NV Access and the NVDA screen reader in competitions.

Touch Gestures

Hand reaching for laptop touch screen showing NVDA download

Hand reaching for laptop touch screen showing NVDA download

One of the new features in NVDA 2020.1 is the ability to perform right mouse clicks on touch devices by doing a one finger tap and hold. I thought I’d take this opportunity to explore how you can use NVDA with a touch screen.

Section 4.3 of the NVDA User Guide covers the different touch gestures available:

To use touch gestures, you must have a device with a touch screen, running Windows 8 or higher. You also need to have NVDA installed, it won’t work with a portable version.

The most basic action you can perform with the touch screen is to announce the control or text at any point on the screen. To do this, place one finger anywhere on the screen. You can also keep your finger on the screen and move it around to read other controls and text that your finger moves over.

Touch gestures can involve several different actions:

  • You can tap the screen quickly with one or more fingers.
  • You can repeat this several times quickly to form a “multi-tap” gestures.
  • You can “flick” one or more fingers across the screen either up, down, left or right.

NVDA has two different touch modes:

  • Text mode, is used to interact with text, eg flicking right moves from one letter to the next in a document.
  • Object mode, which interacts with objects. Flicking right here might move from the ribbon, to the text field in a document to the status bar.

Perform a three finger tap to change between these two touch modes.

You can also access a touch keyboard. This can be used to enter text and commands from a touchscreen. When focused on an edit field, you can bring up the touch keyboard by double-tapping the touch keyboard icon on the bottom of the screen.

So, let’s look at some other touch commands available within NVDA out of the box:

  • 1 finger tap: Move the review cursor to the location of the tap. You can also drag your finger around the screen to have NVDA report items as your finger moves over them. When you let go, the review cursor will be at the last item reported.
  • 1 finger double-tap: Activate the current item.
  • 2 finger tap: Stops speech (the same as pressing control).
  • 2 finger double tap: Open the NVDA menu (the same as pressing NVDA+n)
  • Flick right: Move to the next letter (text mode) or next object (object mode)
  • Flick left: Move to the previous letter (text mode) or previous object (object mode)

There are also gestures setup to use object navigation, and the review cursor, as well as changing review modes.

To find a program shortcut on the desktop, swipe left or right to move between the icons. Alternatively, swipe left or right to move between the items. Once the desired item is found, double tap quickly anywhere on the screen. To move around features in the newly opened program, explore or swipe in the same way.

To move around text in a document, use the following commands:

    First, three finger tap to use text mode. After that:
  • Swipe right to move forward one character
  • Swipe left to move back one character
  • Swipe up to move up one line
  • Swipe down to move down one line
  • 2 finger flick right to move forward one word (like control+right arrow)
  • 2 finger flick left to move back one word (like control+left arrow)
  • 3 finger flick down to read from the current point onward.

NVDA hasn’t defined as many touch gestures as keyboard gestures. You can define more gestures using NVDA’s input gesture dialog. Press NVDA+n (or two finger double tap) to open NVDA’s menu. From the Preferences menu, select “Input Gestures”. Select the gesture to modify, then “add”, and then perform the gesture to associate with the command. There is more information on the Input Gestures Dialog, in the User Guide.

That’s all for this week. If you haven’t already downloaded NVDA 2020.1, Do Check It Out! Or, have you tried NVDA’s touch screen support? Share your thoughts in the NVDA Users Email List. Until next time, stay safe and healthy!