In-Process 3rd December 2021

Welcome to the last month of the year! We’ve hit a big milestone this week in our progress towards NVDA 2021.3, so let’s start with news on the Release Candidate!

NVDA 2021.3 Release Candidate

The NVDA 2021.3 Release Candidate 1 is now available for testing. Unlike Alpha and Beta builds, we encourage ALL users to try the release candidate please. Unless any issues are found, this will be identical to the final release. The NV Access crew are all looking forward to some time off over the new year after the release of NVDA 2021.3. So, we’d definitely rather find any issues sooner rather than later.

Download the NVDA 2021.3 Release Candidate 1 now.

Changes from Beta 2 include:

  • Restored reporting of backspaced characters in Visual Studio editor
  • Updates to translations
And for those who didn’t try out the betas, the highlights of NVDA 2021.3 are:

This release introduces support for the new HID Braille specification. This specification aims to standardize support for Braille Displays without needing individual drivers. There are updates to eSpeak-NG and LibLouis, including new Russian and Tshivenda tables. Error sounds can be enabled in stable builds of NVDA via a new advanced settings option. Say all in Word now scrolls the view to keep the current position visible. There are lots of improvements when using Office with UIA. One UIA fix is that Outlook now ignores more types of layout tables in messages.

For those using the beta versions, NVDA will prompt to update to the RC build shortly if it hasn’t already. The RC build will prompt to update to the final version when it is available.

For anyone getting an error checking for updates, from any version of NVDA, there is a fix! Please download the RC build manually and run it. Once started, you can either install or continue running and it works like any version of NVDA. From there, open NVDA’s help menu (NVDA+n, then h), and select “check for updates”. This should update your PC’s security certificates, which will fix the update error.

Feature spotlight: Search suggestions and the Microsoft Store

One of the new features in NVDA 2021.3 is:

“In Windows 10 and later, NVDA will announce the suggestion count when entering search terms in apps such as Settings and Microsoft Store”.

When searching in either Windows settings or the Microsoft store, NVDA now reports how many results there are. Microsoft have made changes to their Store recently, so let’s explore in more detail:

Using the Microsoft Store

The Microsoft Store is a central repository for Windows apps. Apps on the store are created slightly differently to traditional desktop programs. At this time, a screen reader such as NVDA, made as a Microsoft Store app, would be very restricted. So, NVDA will remain available directly from us at for the foreseeable future.

Navigating the Microsoft Store is like the settings screens in Windows 10. The arrow keys do not move the focus the way they do in say Word or on the web. TAB navigates to interactive elements such as links, preview videos and buttons. This skips any regular text, such as descriptions or information which isn’t a link.

To move through the details of an app, the best way now is to use Object Navigation instead of the arrows. Use the “move to next object” and “move to previous object” commands. To activate something, press NVDA+enter instead of enter. These commands differ between desktop keyboard layout and laptop keyboard layout:

Function Desktop layout keystroke Laptop layout keystroke Touch
Previous object NVDA+numpad 4 NVDA+shift+left arrow Flick left (object mode)
Report current object NVDA+numpad 5 NVDA+shift+o None
Next object NVDA+numpad 6 NVDA+shift+right arrow Flick right (object mode)
Activate current object NVDA+numpad enter NVDA+enter Double tap

Report current object (which re-reads the current object), does not have a touch gesture by default. One can be assigned from NVDA’s Input Gestures dialog (We have covered Input Gestures on In-Process previously)

As an example, let’s use Thorium Reader, by the European Digital Reading Lab (EDRLab). Thorium Reader describes itself as “the best free reading application for EPUB, PDF and DAISY 3 ebooks, audiobooks and digital comics.” Let’s search the Microsoft Store for Thorium Reader now:

  1. Press the WINDOWS key to open the start menu
  2. Type “Store” (without quotes)
  3. If “Microsoft Store, app” is not the first result, press the DOWN ARROW to find it
  4. Press ENTER to load the Microsoft Store
  5. Now, let’s search the store. You can either press CONTROL+E (like in Outlook) or CONTROL+F to search.

  6. Press CONTROL+F to move the focus to the search edit
  7. Type “Thorium” (again, without quotes). If using NVDA 2021.3 RC1, NVDA will report “Two suggestions”. This is the new feature we mentioned!
  8. Press DOWN ARROW to select “Thorium Reader, App” and press ENTER
  9. Now the page for Thorium Reader loads. Let’s read it.

  10. Press NVDA+numpad 6 (or if using Laptop keyboard layout, press NVDA+shift+right arrow) to move to the next element on the page
  11. Press NVDA+numpad 4 (or if using laptop keyboard layout, press NVDA+shift+left arrow) to move to the previous element on the page
  12. To activate an element (for instance, the “install” button), press NVDA+numpad enter (or if using laptop keyboard layout, press NVDA+enter). NVDA reports “Invoke”, and the action is performed

When navigating around the screen, note how many items are NOT reported as links or buttons. Pretty much all of those will be skipped if only using tab to move around.

From India to the USA Part 2

We got lots of great feedback from the first part of our Interview with Bhavya Shah recently. This week, we are pleased to be able to present part 2. In this second part, Bhavya shares some of the technicalities of how he uses NVDA in his university work, and in his research assistantship.

From India to the USA Part 2 includes both the video and text transcript. If you missed part 1, you can find a link on the same page.

That’s all for this week. Do try NVDA 2021.3 Release Candidate 1. If you encounter any issues or have any question, please either post in the NVDA user group, or feel free to ask us!