In-Process CSUN 2017

Welcome to a special In-Process, coming to you from the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, in San Diego, California, USA.

As well as many great meetings and discussions with others in the accessibility industry, this year we are presenting a session titled “NVDA, the free screen reader: 2017 and beyond”.

This post will recap some of the points from that presentation, and provide links and more information for those at the session as well.

For those not here, curious to find out more about CSUN, the conference website is: http://csunconference.org

What is NVDA?


NVDA is a free, open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows. NVDA reads text from the computer screen in a synthetic voice and can convert the text to Braille using a connected Braille display. It is used by over 80,000 users in more than 120 countries and upwards of 50 languages. NVDA provides access to the web, email, word processing, mathematical content, chat, entertainment and much more. In-depth information about the features and system requirements are available from our NVDA Features page.

Additional voices are available, including Eloquence and Vocalizer. See the Extra Voices page for more information.

Various add-ons can be downloaded for NVDA, which enhance features or abilities within certain programs. These include a audio themes, golden cursor, NVDA Remote support and focus highlight. See the Add-ons page for details. These add-ons can also be accessed from within NVDA itself by opening the NVDA menu, them choosing “Tools”, then “Manage add-ons”

Who are NV Access?


NV Access is the Australian charity which develops NVDA. The two lead developers are both blind, making it a project developed by users, for users. The history of the project, and Mick and Jamie who founded it, is recounted in Our Story.

Mick and Jamie are the lead developers, focussing on big projects such as improving support for Kindle, Edge, Chrome and Firefox. Reef triages many of the issues users report; he has overhauled much of the user interface for NVDA and is also doing general development such as improving support for Aria 1.1. Quentin developed the Basic Training for NVDA and Microsoft Word with NVDA training modules, certification exams and is currently working on the Microsoft Excel with NVDA module. Quentin also does much of the community liaison, including writing In-Process (“Hi!”).

Recent changes in NVDA


NVDA 2017.1 was released on 22nd February 2017. Highlights of this release include reporting of sections and text columns in Microsoft Word; Support for reading, navigating and annotating books in Kindle for PC; and improved support for Microsoft Edge. Full release notes on the What’s new page.

Other highlights of recent releases of NVDA include:
Many improvements in Microsoft Word and Excel.
You can now disable single letter navigation in Browse mode, which can be useful for navigating sites which implement their own single letter navigation such as Facebook, Twitter and Gmail.
Improved support for Windows mail
More accurate reporting of colours
Ability to duck audio (lower volume of other sounds)
Improved support for iTunes

Over the past year, NVDA has incorporated numerous fixes and improvements for Braille users, as well as new languages. Support has been added for the following Braille displays:

• Orbit reader 20
• Baum SuperVario2
• Baum Vario 340
• Baum VarioUltra
• Baum Pronto
• HumanWare Brailliant2
• HumanWare BI/B
• HIMS Smart Beetle
• APH Refreshabraille

Training

There are currently two courses available: Basic Training for NVDA and Microsoft Word with NVDA. A third course, Microsoft Excel with NVDA is currently being written and is expected to be available mid-year. Basic Training for NVDA is available in Electronic text, Braille and MP3 Audio. Electronic text costs $33 AUD (~$25 USD) and includes HTML, DOCX, ePub and Mobi formats. Braille costs $71.50 AUD (~$55 USD). Audio costs $49.50 AUD (~$38 USD) for a downloadable DAISY MP3 package. See the Shop for more information, or to purchase.

Certification

NV Access is very excited to unveil our new “Expert” certification, which you can sit right now. NVDA expert certification enables professionals, trainers, etc. to demonstrate proficiency in advanced use of NVDA. It is an online, time limited, question based test. The NVDA Expert certification tests your general knowledge of the NVDA screen reader by drawing from knowledge found in the NVDA Basic Training module, the NVDA user guide, and other publically available resources. It should be noted that purchase of the Basic Training module is beneficial, but not required in order to sit the certification exam. Being able to pass this online exam proves that you are proficient in the usage of NVDA, and that you have the skills to help others learn how to best use the product. The online exam is free for anyone to take, however if you pass the exam and wish to be officially listed as an NVDA expert, a certificate can be purchased from us. See the NVDA Expert Certification page for more information or to sit the exam.

Phone support


NV Access now offer telephone support for NVDA users or organisations. Local numbers for both Australia and the United States of America are available. See the Shop for more information.

Community


• NV Access Users e-mail list is a valuable source of discussion and information. Support is available from other users and NVDA staff. Subscribe via E-Mail or web page.
• NVDA In-Process is our new blog.
• NVDACon is an annual, online conference for users, developers and anyone else interested in NVDA. See the NVDACon page for more details.
• If you encounter a bug or have a great idea for a new feature, there is an NVDA GitHub page.
• For those interested in development, the

Upcoming NVDA features:


• ARIA 1.1
• Contracted braille input
• Kindle
• Speech refactor
• Edge improvements
• Braille display detection
• Touch screen improvements
• Web improvements
• Browse mode in rich text editors
• Switching between synths for different languages
• Automatic selection of best available synth
• OneCore voices
• Help for common controls

New initiatives


• AudioScreen is an NVDA add-on that allows you to “feel” images with your ears, while moving your finger around a touch screen on Windows 8 and above. See the AudioScreen project page for more information.
• OSARA stands for “Open Source Accessibility for the REAPER Application”. REAPER is a complete digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset. REAPER supports a vast range of hardware, digital formats and plugins, and can be comprehensively extended, scripted and modified. See the OSARA page for details on OSARA or REAPER.FM for more information on REAPER.

Finally, thank you for either reading this or attending the session. If you did attend the session, please don’t forget to go to sessions.csunconference.org where you can find the session evaluation form.