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


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:


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)


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)


  • 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!