In-Process 30th August 2017
I wanted to lead this edition of In-Process with the exciting news that I have a brand new coffee machine! But apparently, that is only of interest to me. So, the big news this fortnight that isn’t caffeine related is the release of NVDA 2017.3. There are many exciting things in this release. A lot of community collaboration and input has contributed to the huge list of new and improved features. Thank you to all our dedicated and hard-working community volunteers!
So, what is new, updated and fixed? As hinted previously, the key features are:
– Input of contracted braille
– Support for new Windows 10 OneCore voices
– Inbuilt support for Windows 10 OCR
– There are also many significant improvements to Braille and the web. The full What’s New is here.
NVDA 2017.3 is available from the update prompt within NVDA itself if you have “Automatically check for updates to NVDA” enabled on the General settings page. It is also available from the NVDA website.
One long awaited feature of NVDA 2017.3 for Windows 10 users is support for the new Windows OneCore voices. These voices are very human sounding and come in many languages. To change to the OneCore synthesizer, press NVDA+control+s and choose “Windows OneCore voices”. Note again, these are only available on Windows 10.
Most users will be familiar with NVDA’s options for adjusting the voice rate. This can be done either via the voice settings dialog (press NVDA+control+v) or on-the-fly. Press NVDA+control+left or right arrow to change which voice option to adjust (speech rate, pitch, volume, voice etc). Then press NVDA+control+up arrow or NVDA+control+down arrow to adjust the selected option. These two methods for adjusting the speech rate still work with the OneCore voices. Some users may find setting the rate to 100 is still slower than other voices allow. The speech rate can be adjusted further from the speech settings dialog within Windows 10 itself. Press the WINDOWS key, then start typing “Speech settings”. When the Speech Settings system setting is selected, press ENTER. Press TAB to move to the “Speed” slider, and the arrows to adjust the speed.
Several users have also noticed that using pitch to identify capital letters is not as pronounced in the OneCore voices. You can adjust this in the Voice Settings dialog (NVDA+control+v) by changing the number in the “Capital pitch change percentage” edit. This can be adjusted from -100 (lower pitch) up to 100 (higher pitch), where 0 is no change. You can also set “Say cap before capitals” or “Beep for capitals” to indicate capital letters when typing or reading by character.
NVDA 2017.3 includes many updates for Braille users. NVDA now uses Liblouis 3.2.0, updated from the earlier 3.0.0 we have been using since 2016.4. This includes updates to many languages and Braille tables. We have also changed the default Braille table to be UEB Code grade 1. The input and output Braille tables are also now ordered alphabetically to make them easier to locate in the Braille settings dialog. You can now type in both contracted and uncontracted Braille on a Braille display and you can enter Unicode Braille characters. There are many more control types and states identified with abbreviations for Braille. There are also more Braille options such as the ability to show messages indefinitely.
Another new feature for Windows 10 users, is the OCR functionality. We mentioned previously how this OCR replaces the OCR add-on for Windows 10 users. It is important to disable or remove the OCR add-on to avoid conflicts and ensure that OCR works. To use the OCR functionality, press NVDA+r on an image. Read the results using the standard text reading keys (arrows, Say all, etc). For users of earlier Windows versions, the add-on is still available which uses the review cursor reading keys.
What other new features are you excited about? Do get in touch and let us know. Also, feel free to send in your favourite coffee styles and recipes for me to try!
Finally, a shout out to one of our users, Tuukka Ojala. Tuukka’s excellent blog post on how he works with NVDA caught our attention this week. Great work Tuukka!