[BCAB] NVDA follow up
Colin_Phelan at pmlgroup.com
Tue Jul 8 10:12:18 BST 2014
Thanks Colin, really good stuff,
I downloaded NVDA a year or so ago but never put any time in to figure
out how to use it.
I am a Supanova user which does fine for me most of the time but I
believe NVDA is stronger on the net.
Can anyone give me any pointers on the best way of using 2 screen
For example, what is the launch key stroke and kill key stroke for NVDA
Are there any settings I then need to change to use on the web or am I
good to go
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Colin
Sent: 08 July 2014 00:38
To: BCAB Discussion List
Subject: [BCAB] Michael Curran, Lead NVDA Developer,Addresses the NFB
From: David Goldfield
<000000b4144fc9c3-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.ICORS.ORG>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2014 14:14:29 -0400
Just got this.
An Address to the National Federation of the Blind Convention 2014 July
7, 2014 5:02 am The following speech was given by Michael Curran on the
6th of July 2014, to attendees at the National Federation of the Blind's
2014 convention in Orlando Florida. NV Access wishes to thank the NFB
for providing funding for Michael's attendance.
The NVDA screen reading software is changing the lives of blind and
vision impaired people across the globe, by providing them with a free
alternative to commercial screen readers, that may be either too
expensive or not available in their location or language. It is enabling
these people to independently use computers to produce written content,
read news, socialise, shop and bank online, and, most importantly,
actively participate in education and employment.
It is developed by users, for users.
NVDA is used by both the young and old.
It is used at home, at school, at university, in the workplace and on
It supports over 40 languages.
It can be run portably, with out the need for installation.
NVDA is open source software. We have received contributions of code,
documentation and translations from over 140 people from across the
NVDA is downloaded roughly 60000 times each release, with over 17000
users depending on the product each and every day, spanning over 160
countries. As NVDA is free for anyone, the greatest impact is for people
living in developing countries where it is often impossible to access a
commercial screen reader. However, even in the developed world, NVDA is
having a significant impact. The second highest country for NVDA usage
is the United States, suggesting that even here, there are people for
whom NVDA is a necessity, due to the prohibitive cost of other products.
Over the past several years, we have continued to strive to ensure that
NVDA is a fully featured solution for not only those who have no other
option, but also for those who simply like choice.
For anyone who hasn't looked at NVDA in the last two years or so, some
of the major changes and improvements have been:
* A repackaged download, allowing you to install or create a portable
copy, all from one file.
* Automatic updates, ensuring that you always have the latest and
greatest NVDA when it becomes available.
* Support for NVDA add-ons, allowing you to add optional features
created by others in the community.
* Support for Asian character input and improved support for reading
right-to-left languages such as Arabic.
* Support for Microsoft Powerpoint, allowing you to both read and edit
Powerpoint presentations. Special thanks goes to the NFB and several
other blindness agencies, for contributing financially to this
* Microsoft Word enhancements including: support for graphics, form
fields, revisions and comments.
* A Configuration profiles manager, allowing you to create and switch
between multiple configurations for different applications or
Other developments have included: support for touch screens on Windows
8; computer braille input; support for many more braille displays;
customisation of keyboard, braille display and touch commands;
enhancements and fixes to web page and pdf content; stability fixes; and
As a small taste of what is coming for the next release, Some
enhancements you can look forward to particularly in regards to
Microsoft Office are:
* Support for the Outlook Calendar
* less verbose reading in the Outlook inbox and other message lists.
* a new command to read the current comment in both Microsoft Word and
* Microsoft Word specific enhancements including:
* reporting of paragraph indenting
* Reporting of distance from the left edge when pressing tab
* Feedback in speech and braille for most formatting shortcut keys
(bold, italic, underline, alignment, etc.)
* Automatic column and row header reading in tables where the author has
specified headers compatible with Jaws.
* Improved automatic column and row header reading for Excel including
setting headers for multiple regions and per-worksheet storage
compatible with Jaws Some other features that will be available in the
not too distant future
* Improved support for Rich text editing in web browsers, Further
enhancing the accessibility of products such as Google Docs, Office 365,
and other content editors.
* Access to complex math equations in web browsers and Microsoft Office,
Via Design Science's Math Player Alpha, allowing for meaninful
navigation within equations, with feedback in both speech and braille.
In conversations almost 10 years ago,my close friend James Teh and I
talked as blind people, about the possibility of a fully featured free
Screen Reader for Windows. Due to the high cost of commercial products,
there was unfortunately a fair amount of illegal usage of the existing
commercial products. Given the importance of access to computers, it was
difficult for many to resist doing this. However, both of us realized
that in addition to the obvious legal and ethical reasonsagainst
software piracy, this approach simply ignores the underlying problems of
screen reader cost and availability. Blind people, regardless of their
economic status, should not have to break the law just to be able to use
computers and gain independence.
The idea of a free screen reader was not new. There were several free
screen readers for Linux and Apple at that time was introducing
VoiceOver to the Mac. There were even some free options for Windows, but
they were either extremely limited or abandoned. Another group had a
similar dream to ours, but their projet seemed to never get off the
In April 2006, While just out of university,And, also out of a job,I
decided to start working on the NVDA screen reading software. I
certainly wasn't the best programmer around,But previous life
experience, And participation in Blind Citizens Australia taught me,That
if you want or need something,Someone, has got to start it some time.
Although perhaps a little skeptical about the chance of success at
first, James Teh joined me on the project in July that year, and
together we have worked as lead developers for the last 8 years.
There were many reasons we developed NVDA as a free and open source
project. The first was because this enforced the ideal that it would
always be freely available to anyone who needed it. Second, based on our
previous experience with open source software, we knew that a project of
this size and complexity could really benefit from input and
contributions from the community. Finally, we believed that for too
long, screen reading techniques had been locked up in the proprietary
world. Each time a new screen reader project was started, programmers
had to re-invent the wheel. There was no reference, no baseline from
which to start. NVDA would be a chance to open this up and allow the
blind and vision impaired community to access and learn from the code,
knowledge and techniques that helped them access computers each and
Although we understood well the issues around screen reader cost for
ourselves and others in similar situations to our own, we did not
appreciate at first just how much more of an impact NVDA would make on
the blind in developing or non-English speaking countries. In these
countries, commercial screen readers can be up to 4 times the price that
we are used to, and sometimes the commercial screen readers are outdated
or just not available in their particular language. This further spurred
our efforts and led to a framework enabling translation of NVDA into any
language by anyone so that everyone, regardless of language, can benefit
from access to computers. We realised it was now imperative that we put
in place infrastructure to ensure NVDA's long-term continuation.
In 2007, James Teh, myself, and several other blind people,founded NV
Access, an Australian-based non-profit organisation to develop and
promote NVDA. NV Access raises funds through grants, donations,
contracts and potentially other avenues in future. Among other things,
NV Access employs us to work full time on the project, provides the
technical infrastructure for the website and other online services, and
allows us to offer related services such as support and consulting.
NVDA is now a world renowned screen reader used by tens of thousands,
but its impact reaches far beyond the direct benefits to its users. It
has helped to change the landscape of an industry where fully featured,
free or low cost products were previously considered an unrealistic
dream. It has provided greater competition in the assistive technology
space, thus driving continued development and innovation. Both NVDA and
NV Access have played a significant part in pushing the accessibility
industry forward, particularly in the area of web accessibility. Because
NVDA is free and unrestricted, more developers are able to test with a
screen reader when implementing accessibility in their products,
lowering even more barriers to accessibility. All of this ensures the
importance and relevance of our work now and into the future, even
despite the emergence of other free options such as Window-Eyes for
users of Microsoft Office.
Today, NV Access still continues to actively develop NVDA. With the
rapid pace of technology developments, we must continually update NVDA
to ensure compatibility with the latest versions of Windows or other
popular 3rd party applications. Aside from NVDA development, we are also
focusing on several other areas in order to increase awareness and
uptake for those who truly need it.
In order to best achieve our mission, NV Access needs to grow as a
business and be sustainable into the future. Also, we need to grow the
ecosystem of services and products around NVDA. Thanks to a grant from
The Nippon Foundation, we have recently hired a General Manager who is
focusing specifically on these issues.
The lack of official training material and technical support is
something that many people have identified as a barrier to NVDA uptake.
We recognise the importance of this and are working towards a solution.
The hope is to firstly have a set of official text-based training
materials available in the not too distant future, with the aim of also
putting in place a certification system around this training to ensure
quality from those offering training in their own local communities.
Ensuring the existence of training will allow the NVDA user to work more
effectively with the product, get beginner users up to speed faster, and
also quash a fair bit of ignorance around NVDA's current capabilities.
We are also seeking to partner with various blindness agencies,
rehabilitation organisations and companies,including organisations here
in the U.S,who could offer end-user technical support to NVDA users in
their own compunities,and around the world. We already have a corporate
support model in place which allows these organisations to receive
second-level technical support, training or custom development from NV
Access for a monthly fee.
Another major barrier to uptake is of course the speech. NVDA comes with
the eSpeak speech synthesizer built in. It is extremely responsive and
can speak in many languages. I myself use espeak all the time and there
are many others who also do, especially in developing countries where
other synthesizers are simply not available. However, we are very much
aware of the reluctance of many to use eSpeak due to its apparent
robotic ormetallic nature.
Perhaps the most popular speech synthesizer among screen reader users is
Nuance ETI-Eloquence. IBM also incorporated the same engine in their
IBMTTS product. Unfortunately, we have been unable to license this for
use with NVDA despite several attempts to negotiate with both Nuance and
IBM. Furthermore, both products are considered end of life. Nuance
continue to wholesale Eloquence but do not provide support or updates,
while IBMTTS can no longer be purchased at all. Also perhaps more
unfortunately, we are aware that a significant number of users choose to
use these synthesisers illegally. NV Access certainly does not condone
One potential solution we are pursuing is attempting to restart research
into formant synthesis by developing a prototype Klatt synthesizer. If
successful, it could be a replacement for those who cannot adapt to
eSpeak but are comfortable with the sound of Eloquence or Dectalk. Like
NVDA, it is being developed as open source software, ensuring that
others can contribute and that the future of the product is not
dependent on just one company. The prototype is already available in
English and can be found on our Extra Voices web page, under the name of
NV Speech Player.
The aim of NV Access has always been to lower the economic and social
barriers associated with accessing Information Technology for people who
are Blind or Vision Impaired. The company is thus dedicated to the ideal
that accessibility and equitable access is a right and should be
available to everyone, no matter their language, location or economic
status. NV Access upholds this ideal through its continuing commitment
to keep NVDA freely available to all blind and vision impaired people
who need it. However, in order to best achieve this ideal, we, the
blindness community, must work together. We welcome open and candid
discussion with all in the blindness community, including the NFB, on
ways we can ensure NVDA's continuation.
There are still many blind people in the U.S. and otherwise who don't
have access to computers or the internet,Due to screen reader
availability. In a 21st century context, for some this means the
inability to participate equally in education, the inability to get a
job, or the inability simply to socialise.
We believe that everybody, blind or not, has a duty and a right to
contribute to society in some way. We implore organisations such as the
NFB to work to ensure that all blind people have the necessary tools to
do so. Let us also make sure that at least some of these tools are owned
and controlled by the blindness community. Access to technology is
essential, and we as blind people must play a significant part in
shaping the future of that access.
I would like to thank ourcurrent primary sponsersincluding: Adobe, The
Nippon Foundation, and Google. And to also acknowledge past support from
Microsoft, And especially past support from Mozilla, with whom we share
Finally, I would like to thank the NFB for the opportunity to speak
today,And for your support of the NVDA project.
You can find out more about NVDA or download a copy, at www.nvaccess.org
In Michael Curran's speech at this year's NFB convention, he mentioned
that NV access is working on a synthesizer for people who have
difficulties with Espeak and who want something more like Dectalk or
eloquence. I just checked their Twitter feed and saw they posted a link
to the latest version at http://t.co/J9mfthJhmJ This is an add-on which,
once installed, will show up in the list of synthesizers as NV Speech
I'm not sure what to think about it. It is somewhat reminiscent of
Eloquence and Dectalk but I'm not sure that people who hate ESpeak will
find the voice much more appealing. Then again, we have to consider
that this is not the final version of the synth but it's still in beta
or maybe even in an alpha state. Also, it has a lot of extra controls
in the voice settings dialog which can allow you to fine tune the voices
and I'm sure the developers will be working on this as well.
Feel free to visit my new Web site
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Founder and Peer Coordinator
Philadelphia Computer Users' Group for the Blind and Visually
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