GTT Toronto Summary Notes, CSUN Assistive Tech Conference Summary, March 21, 2019

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

March 21, 2019

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB Foundation

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, March 21 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

Theme: 2019 CSUN Assistive Tech Conference Summary

 

GTT Toronto Meeting Summary Notes can be found at this link:

 

Ian White (Facilatator, GTT)

Jason Fayre (Presenter)

 

Jason opened the meeting. He invited questions and input.

 

General Discussion:

A member raised the topic that AIRA is offering 3 months of free service. You’re eligible if you’ve never paid for AIRA before. The deal is on till March 29. You pay your first month at $29 U.S. and your next 3 months are free, 30 minutes per month. You don’t get glasses; you just use your phone. Another member described a device he had with him. Samsung has an in-house accessibility program. They offer a free, downloadable program that works with virtual reality glasses. The member passed the device around. It’s something wearable on your face, that holds your phone, and augments what the camera sees, in various ways. It’s a device for people with low vision. It’s a competitor to Iris Vision and New Eyes. It’s mainly for magnification and enhancement.

Another member raised a problem watching Netflix on his phone, and the controls get minimized Another member said she called Netflix, and they say it’s an iPhone issue. She recommends when the “show controls” button comes up, tap and hold. Netflix has an accessibility team; Twitter might be one way to find them. The first member said he now uses his Apple watch to control it. Someone else recommended that if you want to track down an accessibility person at a particular company, try finding them on LinkedIn.

Someone raised the question of what’s going on with CELA. When will their website be fixed. A member said that downloading and direct-to-player should now be working. They completely redesigned their site, and almost everything about how they operate. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they’d hope. Now, you can access CELA and Bookshare through the same site. It will really facilitate getting more titles from the U.S. soon.

Albert from GTT on the west coast contributed that someone from CELA will be on the national GTT call on May 8 to talk about the changes. The main site to find out about national GTT stuff is www.gttprogram.blog. Many things are posted there. The national calls are always on the second Wednesday of each month, 7:00 P.M. eastern.

A member raised a problem in Jaws 2018 and Windows10, where demands by the computer to install upgrades, were causing Jaws to crash in Outlook. He said the Microsoft accessibility help desk was able to downgrade him to a previous version of something, which helped. Jason added that using Windows10 pretty much requires you to keep your Jaws completely updated. The Office version number is also relevant to the equation. NVDA is getting very good, so if anyone’s frustrated, it’s always an option.

A member raised a problem with Windows8 where turning on the computer seems to load many windows, which he has to close before he can continue. Jason recommended the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. You can also use Be My Eyes, and call Microsoft through that. This allows you to point your camera at the screen for easier diagnostics.

A member asked about files that say, “empty document,” when you open them. Another member said this is likely because the document is a scanned image, or if the protection on the document is too high. Another member added that, in Adobe, there’s a setting under “reading” that will help to read the entire document verses reading only one page at a time. Try going under the view menu, then accessibility, for more options. PDFs are always challenging. One might work, one might not. Another member added that Jaws now has built in character recognition for PDF documents. Within Jaws 2019, press insert, space bar, O, then D, it will allow you to read some PDF’s. Also, you can do this by navigating to the file name without opening it, open your applications menu, and arrow down to, recognize with Jaws OCR.

Another member raised the question of how to use Outlook to make appointments consulting other peoples’ calendars. Jason replied that it’s possible but not simple, maybe too in-depth for the meeting. Jason volunteered that he has a document he wrote in another context, which explains how to do it. He offered to send it out to the group.

A member asked about how to fax from a printer. Jason answered that you’d have to call the printer company and ask if there’s a way to do it directly from the computer.

A member asked if it’s possible to combine all your calendars into one. Jason answered that if you attach all your calendars to your phone calendar, your phone will show everything. Everything will show in a unified list in the phone calendar ap.

 

CSUN Summary:

Jason then began talking about his experience at CSUN. This is an enormous assistive technology conference that occurs in California each year. It’s put on by the University of Southern California North Ridge. It’s the largest conference of its kind anywhere. It includes any kind of assistive tech, not just blindness-related stuff. Microsoft and Google have a large presence there. Apple attends too, but keeps a low profile.

There’s a large exhibit hall where companies set up tables to display the latest things. The other part of the conference is presentations on specific topics. Apple did have a table this year, but they didn’t present.

This year there wasn’t one defining great thing, or extraordinary trend. There were, however, some interesting new things.

Hymns released a new Q-Braille XL, which is a note taker and display that you can hook up to your phone or PC.

Another interesting element related to the hotel which hosted the conference. This was a new venue for the event. AIRA had set up a free access point for the hotel, so that if you had an AIRA account, you could use it there and not have to pay for your minutes.

The hotel had what you might call a “smart elevator.” This works by having a key pad on the wall at each elevator bank outside the elevator. You type in the floor you want into the keypad, then you’re directed to a specific elevator car. This is a system designed to streamline elevator use in very busy buildings, and it had a feature that allowed you to turn on speech. Jason then played a brief audio recording demonstrating use of the elevator.

It really is obvious when you spend any time in the U.S., how effective the ADA legislation has been in making things more accessible. Jason described getting into a cab for a very long cab ride. Facing him in the back seat, was a little display showing you dynamic details of your trip. When the trip started, a voice says, “to turn on voice accessibility, press the button in the corner.” Then, you’d get a verbal update of your fair and location. This proves that the technology exists.

Another highlight is always the networking. Jason got to meet with representatives from Microsoft and Google.

One exciting piece of tech that was being displayed was a set of Bows glasses called the Bows Frames. Both AIRA and Microsoft are planning to incorporate them into GPS aps. There are highly directional speakers in the arms of the glasses, that sit right behind your ears. Bone conducting headphones can slightly block your hearing and echo location, and this effect is lessened when the sound is coming from behind your ears. Jason connected them via Bluetooth to his phone, then sent them around the room. The sound is directed toward your ears, and he demonstrated how local the sound is, so that someone sitting next to you doesn’t hear a lot of sound bleeding out. Flipping them upside-down turns them off. The true innovation is that they have an inertial measurement unit in them. This means they can track your head movement for GPS and navigational purposes. They go for $200. Like bone-conducting headphones, this is mainstream technology. The Bows store near the hotel hosting the conference was swamped with people wanting them. The sound quality for someone on the other end of the call through the glasses is quite good.

Unless you’re moving, GPS can’t tell which way you’re facing. AIRA plans to integrate with these because the accelerometer lets them know that immediately.

A member raised the topic of looking a bit strange walking down the street apparently talking to yourself, using the glasses. Jason said that it’s getting less and less unusual as more sighted people start using Bluetooth devices. He described the experience of talking to his headset, and being misunderstood by people around him, and having them offer help. He was told that it’s a universal gesture to tap your ear, as a non-verbal sign to others that your engaged in a different conversation.

Albert reported that most announcements at CSUN were tweaks of things we already know about. One of the exceptions this year, a new exciting device, is the Canute, out of Britain. It’s a 9-line, 40-cell braille display. It’s portable but beefy. It shines for anything you’d want to see multiple lines of braille for, such as music or math. They’re hoping to launch by the end of this year, and CNIB is very interested in working with them. The target price is around 1500 pounds, maybe $2600 Canadian. Jason had a prototype with him, and demonstrated it. There’s storage, and you could store many books. The refresh rate is line by line, so you could time it to be at the bottom line by the time the top line is replaced. Braille readers at the conference were very excited about it. They described it as going back to paper braille. This is not a replacement for a note taker, it’s firmly a braille reader. It’s a stand-alone device. They hope to integrate it with Duxbury. This would allow paperless proof reading.

There’s another device in development that is a tactile graphics display, called Graffiti. It will be appropriate for diagrams rather than braille.

Jason described several workshops on the blind Maker movement that interested him.

He spent a lot of time at the conference asking, “When will we get this in Canada?” Amazon and Google both released new things, but not in Canada yet. If there are things you know about that aren’t available in Canada, express to companies that you want them; it might help.

Amazon Prime has all kinds of audio described content, that we can’t get at. Representatives talk a good talk, but are unwilling to commit themselves about times or reasons.

One new thing is a DAISY player from a company out of China. Unfortunately, their representative didn’t speak very good English. Jason got a contact for the U.S. that he’ll follow up on.

Albert, who was at CSUN for the first time, was impressed that it wasn’t just a group of assistive tech companies. All of the big players in technology were there. This wouldn’t have been true 10 years ago. The reason is that mainstream companies are increasingly taking accessibility more seriously over all.

Jason also discussed a company called Native Instruments, that’s very well known in the field of digital music. They’ve recently built accessibility in. One of their music keyboards that you can connect to a PC, has an accessibility mode. When you turn it on, all of its features talk, and so you have easy access to all the functions.

It’s a good idea to get yourself on to the GTT national email list. It’s high traffic, but it’s very diverse and helpful. Google GTT support to find out how to get on it. You can put it in digest mode. There’s also a GTT WhatsAp group.

A member raised a question about Google Docs. A few people said that they’ve used it, and it’s doable, with a stiff learning curve.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Switching From JAWS To NVDA nvaccess/nvda-community Wiki · GitHub

Switching From JAWS To NVDA

To visit the website where this article is posted please access the above link.

 

Introduction

 

The purpose of this guide is to assist users of JAWS (Job Access With Speech), a commercial screen reader by Freedom Scientific to switch to the open source screen reader NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) with ease. It assumes prior knowledge of JAWS and that you are proficient in its use.

 

It is not intended to be a replacement of the included user guide, rather as a means to make NVDA seem less daunting.

 

Strengths And Weaknesses

 

The intent of this guide is not to be a comparison of JAWS and NVDA, but it is necessary to mention some things that NVDA doesn’t currently support or that needs improving so you can make an informed choice.

 

Support for advanced features of the Microsoft office suite is a fairly recent addition, so you may not find it as polished an experience as JAWS. However, this has been improved significantly in recent versions, and is constantly being worked on.

 

With that said, you’ll find that – in most daily situations, NVDA works just as well as JAWS, if not better in some cases.

 

A Quick Note about NVDA’s Laptop Keyboard Layout

 

Selecting the laptop keyboard layout does not automatically set the CapsLock key to act as the NVDA modifier key. However, a check box is provided next to the Keyboard Layout combo box to toggle this setting.

 

Note On The Insert Key.

 

As you may be aware, both JAWS and NVDA can use the insert key for its modifier key. Both screen readers treat it slightly differently, which could lead to some confusion if you are used to one or the other.

 

With JAWS loaded, the insert key is solely for its use. This means that, in order to use the original function assigned to it (such as switching between insert and overwrite modes in a text editor or word processor), you first have to activate JAWS’s pass key through command.

 

NVDA on the other hand allows you to carry out the insert key’s original function by pressing it twice quickly. Keep this in mind the next time you’re editing text while using NVDA and find yourself erasing what you’ve already written by typing over it.

 

Alternatives to eSpeak

 

eSpeak NG is the speech synthesizer that is included with NVDA. Like NVDA itself, it is also free and open source, which is one of the reasons for its inclusion. Another being the shear amount of languages it can speak.

 

However, you may find that, for whatever reason, it is not for you. If this is the case you will be glad to know that there are alternatives, which will be discussed in the following sections.

 

Eloquence

 

One of the most asked questions concerns the use of the Eloquence synthesizer with NVDA. Until recently, it was illegal to do so, as explained by a developer.  However, Code Factory has released a version of eloquence as an NVDA add-on which can be purchased from this link.

 

A license to use Nuance’s Vocalizer synthesizer is also included in the price.

 

See the section entitled “Scripts” for information about NVDA add-ons.

 

Windows OneCore voices

 

If you are on Windows 10 and are running NVDA version 2017.3 or later, you have yet another alternative in the shape of Windows OneCore voices. These voices are developed by Microsoft and are included free of charge with windows 10.

 

There are quite a few available in various languages and dialects; some of which will already be installed. However, these will vary depending on the language packs you have on your system. The only way at present to get new voices is to install other language packs in Settings. Once done, you can then download the voices for that language. At which point, you can remove the language pack. This will not effect the voices you have just installed. hopefully this will be made more simpler in the future.

 

If you find that Windows OneCore voices do not speak fast enough, even when NVDA’s speech rate is at its highest, adjust the speech rate in windows settings as well.

 

Their slight complications aside, these voices offer a viable alternative to eSpeak NG as they are responsive and quite natural sounding.

 

Even more voices

 

If you still cannot find the perfect voice for you, This page lists several other speech synthesizers (both free and paid you can use instead.

 

Terminology

 

Most of the time, both NVDA and JAWS share a lot of the same terminology to describe controls e.g. radio buttons, combo boxes, check boxes etc.

 

One notable difference is that NVDA differentiates between single and multi-line edit fields, and will also tell you if a field is “protected” (anything you type will be replaced by asterisks). It will also alert you if text is selected in a field when you tab over to it. If so, typing will replace the highlighted text.

 

NVDA refers to the different languages a speech synthesizer can speak as voices, and the different voices supported by your synthesizer as variants.

 

Cursors

 

NVDA has various cursors to aid in navigating Windows and applications, similar to JAWS. The terminology is slightly different as described below.

 

The PC cursor in NVDA’s documentation is referred to as the system focus and system caret.

 

The equivalent to the JAWS cursor is a combination of object navigation, the review cursor and the various review modes; such as Document review, object review and Screen Review. The Screen Review function is the one perhaps most similar to the JAWS cursor, however it is beneficial to become familiar with all of these. You will find thorough, easy to understand instructions in the user guide.

 

Unlike JAWS, you don’t have to switch between the PC and JAWS cursor equivalents as the numpad is reserved exclusively for working with the JAWS cursor like functions.

 

It is worth noting that when you use object navigation or the review cursor, the mouse does not move in sync. You have to press a command to move the mouse to the location of the review cursor, which is similar to how JAWS’ “invisible cursor” works. There are also commands to simulate clicking or locking both

mouse buttons.

 

However, if you simply want to activate the current object you are focused on when using object navigation, there is a command to do this without having to move the mouse cursor to it first.

 

Touch cursor

 

In JAWS 15 or later, you can use numpad keys to navigate apps using a tree-like structure, similar to how users of smartphone screen readers such as VoiceOver would navigate touchscreens. in NVDA, object navigation and object mode touch commands can be used for this purpose

 

Virtual Cursor

 

The virtual cursor in NVDA is known as browse mode. It functions in much the same way as JAWS, giving you access to navigation quick keys, or in NVDA speak, single letter navigation.

 

Following are some common issues you may encounter when browsing the web with NVDA for the first time, and how to address them.

 

Why Is Everything On One Line?

 

In case you are unaware, JAWS has two modes for displaying webpages or other documents using the virtual cursor; simple layout and screen layout. Simple layout is the default, which displays content in a linear fashion – putting each link or control on its own line. Screen layout formats the content similar to how it’s displayed on screen.

 

The default in NVDA is screen layout, but you can easily switch to its version of simple layout by pressing NVDA+V while in browse mode. This will turn Screen layout off. Be sure to save your configuration after making this change with NVDA+CTRL+c.

 

It Keeps Saying Clickable Clickable Clickable.

 

While reading webpages, you might notice sometimes that NVDA says “clickable”, even multiple times on the same link or control.

 

As of version 2018.4 and later, NvDA will now only say clickable once, so if you experience this issue, please upgrade your copy.

 

You can also turn off the announcement of clickable elements entirely by going to document formatting in settings and unchecking “clickable” in the elements group.

 

Find doesn’t work on the web.

 

While JAWS is loaded, pressing ctrl+f in Internet Explorer or Firefox brings up the JAWS Find dialogue rather than activating the browser’s built-in find command. This is to allow you to search for text using the virtual cursor. The regular find command will search for the next occurrence of the entered text, but will not move the virtual cursor to that location. This is due to how screen readers interact with web pages.

 

NVDA has its own find command to search in browse mode, but it has not been tied to CTRL+F, so pressing that shortcut key calls up the browser’s find command, hence find not working as expected.

 

To bring up NVDA’s find dialogue, press ctrl+NVDA+F. Type in what you wish to find then press enter.

 

No commands to view forms and headings?

 

In JAWS, you can press JAWS+F5 to list forms, JAWS+F6 to list headings and JAWS+F7 to list links. In NVDA, the latter two have been combined into an elements list dialog, and you can access it by pressing NVDA+F7.

 

Forms Mode

 

The equivalent of forms mode in NVDA is focus mode, and it behaves very similar to JAWS, Even switching modes automatically when navigating through a webpage.

It will play a sound alerting you to which mode you are in.

 

Details about Focus Mode can be found in the user guide.

 

NVDA talks too much.

 

Sometimes you may find that NVDA can seem overly verbose, particularly in some list views. This is because as far as NVDA is concerned, list views are tables. NVDA is configured by default to announce each column or row header.

 

To turn that option off, uncheck “Report table row/column headers” in the “Document Formatting” dialogue.

 

Solving unexpected Speech Dictionary behaviour.

 

NVDA has always included a function to edit “Speech Dictionaries”, which are similar to JAWS’ dictionary manager files. However, until recently, the result of adding a word to them might not be what you had expected. If you added a word you wanted to change the pronunciation of to a dictionary , such as “mono”, any word that started with or included the word mono would be affected. Whereas in JAWS, only the text entered into the “actual word” field would be affected, unless you appended an asterisk (*). So as in this example, mono would be seen as a route word.

 

There was a work around, but this involved regular expressions, which aren’t at all obvious to the average user. However, as of 2014.4 or later, you will now find a group of radio buttons in the Add/edit dictionary entry labelled type, which determines how the text in the pattern, (NVDA speak for actual word), box will be treated.

 

list of 3 items

  • anywhere, which is the default behavior.
  • Whole word, which is how JAWS handles dictionary entries.
  • Regular Expression, which is complicated. You will also find a case sensitive check box.

list end

 

If you previously found NVDA’s speech dictionaries frustrating, be sure to take another look.

 

Scripts

 

Like JAWS, scripts can be added to NVDA to provide support for other applications or to add new features that can be accessed from anywhere. These script packages are called NVDA Add-ons. You can find several add-ons here:

http://addons.nvda-project.org/

 

These include a few that emulate JAWS features not currently present in NVDA such as a system tray list, virtualise window function and ability to append text to clipboard. Scripts for popular applications such as GoldWave are also available. The user guide has details on installing add-ons, and you can read help documentation that comes with each add-on to learn more about how to use the add-on.

 

The following link is to the developer guide with information on how to create ad-ons.

http://community.nvda-project.org/documentation/developerGuide.html

 

Remote access

 

In 2015, Christopher Toth and Tyler Spivey released a free add-on to allow NVDA users to provide remote support, similar to JAWS Tandem. To learn more about this add-on, go to

http://www.nvdaremote.com

 

Application-specific settings

 

Until recently, NVDA’s settings were global (applied everywhere). Starting with NVDA 2013.3, it is possible to configure certain settings to be applied when using a program. This is done by creating an app-specific configuration profile. To create an app-specific profile, open the Configuration Profiles dialogue while using the app in question. To open the dialogue, hit NVDA, N, to bring up the NVDA menu. arrow down until you hear configuration profiles.

 

When the dialogue opens, select New, and select “current application” when asked when to use this profile.

 

Alternate say all

 

In recent versions of JAWS, you can configure a different speech synthesizer to be used when say all is active. You can do this in NVDA by creating a say all profile in the configuration profiles menu.

 

Here are the steps.

 

list of 3 items

  1. Open the configurations profile from the main NVDA menu. Press NVDA, N, then arrow down to configuration profiles.
  2. Create a new profile by tabbing to the new button or press alt, N.
  3. After you name your profile, tab to the profile usage radio butttons. arrow down untill you hear say all. Hit OK

list end

 

while this profile is active, you need to complete the process by configuring the synthesizer while the say all profile is active.

 

© 2018 GitHub, Inc.

 

GTT Toronto Summary Notes, NVDA Session One, November 15, 2018

Summary Notes

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group

November 15, 2018

 

An Initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind

In Partnership with the CNIB

 

The most recent meeting of the Get Together with Technology (GTT) Toronto Group was held on Thursday, November 15 at the CNIB Community Hub.

 

*Note: Reading Tip: These summary notes apply HTML headings to help navigate the document. With screen readers, you may press the H key to jump forward or Shift H to jump backward from heading to heading.

 

November Topic: NVDA Session One

 

GTT Toronto Meeting Summary Notes can be found at this link:

 

Ian White (Facilatator, GTT)

Jason Fayre (Presenter, CNIB)

Chris Malec (Note taker)

 

Ian opened the meeting:

The meeting began with a roundtable discussion. A member is getting a new computer soon, and asked about what software is compatible with what. Jason answered that Jaws 2018 and Office 365 work well together, as do Office and NVDA. For browsers, Microsoft Edge isn’t quite there yet in terms of accessibility. Chrome is quite reliable, and Internet Explorer is increasingly not useful. It’s not being updated, so it can’t support new web technologies. It’s really important, if you can, to keep your screen reader up-to-date, because browsers and websites are constantly being updated. Office 365 updates monthly for example. The latest version of Jaws is 2019, which came out two weeks ago. Jaws has always done the typical upgrade system, where you can purchase a maintenance agreement that gives you the next two upgrades. In the U.S. they’re going to an annual subscription fee around $60, which gives you regular upgrades. This plan isn’t in Canada yet.

Jason then demonstrated the small speaker he will be using for his presentation. It’s called an Anker SoundCore Mini. It’s about the size of a tennis ball, and they’re quite cheap, $30 on Amazon. Anker makes iPhone chargers and speakers. It’s Bluetooth enabled, has an audio jack, an FM radio built in, and a micro SD slot. It has a really good battery life too.

Jason also demonstrated a new type of Bluetooth keyboard available for the iPhone, called a Tap keyboard. You wear it on your hand. It looks like five rings connected by a cable, and goes on your thumb and each finger. You type by using defined gestures, tapping on a hard surface. For example, each finger is a vowel, and other letters are made by various finger combinations. It’s possible to get quite fast with it. It’s fully accessible. It’s useful for typing on the go. It’s about $200 off Amazon. The company is called Tap Systems. There were some blind people involved in designing it. It allows you to type with one hand. It has a VoiceOver mode, so that you can control your phone with it. It’s gotten a lot of mainstream press related to virtual reality systems. A member asked about the best browser to use with Jaws. Jason said Chrome is the safest, but that FireFox works well too. There was an issue with FireFox for a couple of weeks, but it’s resolved now. Compatibility can be a problem; FireFox won’t work with Jaws16 for example.

 

 

Primary Presentation, NVDA:

Ian introduced the topic. NVDA is an acronym for Non-Visual Desktop Access. According to their website, it was the idea of a couple of Australian developers who have vision loss. They wanted to design a free screen reader as a social justice cause; many people in the developing world need screen readers, but can’t afford what was available. Whole sectors of the populations were cut off from computer technology. They decided to build an open-source screen reader, so that anyone who wants to, can add content. It’s available as a free download. They now occupy about 31% of the screen reader market globally.. Jaws has about 48%. This trend has been steady. It’s been translated into 43 languages, and is being used in 128 countries world wide, by millions of users. They do ask for donations if you’re able, because that helps keep it going. The updates come automatically, and are free as well.

Jason discussed making the topic of NVDA a multi-evening topic, in order to focus on different aspects of using it.

You can find NVDA at NVAccess.com or dot org. From the site, there’s a download link. When you do this, the first screen asks for donations, either one-time, or on-going. The default is a one-time $30 donation, so you need to find the button on the page that says “I don’t want to donate at this time.” You have to have Windows7 or better to run it. NVDA is labelled by year, then by version, so that NVDA 2018.3 is the third release for this year. There are usually four releases per year.

Jason then demonstrated the installation process. In response to a member question, Jason said that you can also download it to something like a Microsoft Surface. It does have limited touch control. It works on Windows only, not Apple or Linyx. The installation process is a series of simple steps, and then a very short installation time compared to Jaws. Jaws typically takes 5-10 minutes, and NVDA took less than a minute. Once you start the installer, NVDA will talk to you in its own voice during the install.

A dialogue comes up inviting you to configure. You’ll be asked which keyboard layout you want to use: laptop or desktop. The desktop layout uses a numeric keypad for many functions. Laptop mode uses other key combinations, assuming you don’t have a numeric keypad. If you’re installing it as your primary screen reader, check the box that says to load automatically when starting your system.

You are then asked about whether you will allow data collection about your use of NVDA, for development purposes.

The voice that came up in Jason’s demo was the default Microsoft voice. This is new. E-Speak, the voice that used to come up had a well-earned reputation for being intolerable. Though unpleasant to some, E-Speak has lightning-fast response times and speech rate compared to the Microsoft voice.

There are other options for voices. You can buy add-ons for around $100, that will allow you to use Eloquence or Vocalizer voices, some of the voices you might be used to from Jaws or on your iPhone. You could have Apple Samantha as your default NVDA voice. Even within Microsoft there are a few passable voice options.

Many navigation functions will remain the same, because they’re Windows hotkeys with no relationship to the screen reader. You can adjust the speech rate from within NVDA preferences, or there’s a shortcut keystroke.

There’s a quick-help mode that you can activate with insert1. The help mode is a toggle, and it’s the same keystroke as Jaws. NVDA has tried to reproduce as many of the same keystrokes as they could.

If you go to the NVDA menu under help, there’s a quick reference section. This brings up a webpage with all NVDA commands. All of the commands are reassignable. There’s also a “what’s new” section, and a user guide.

NVDA works with a good range of braille displays.

It will work with all the major applications that you’re likely to use. In terms of browsers, you’re still better off with Chrome or FireFox.

 

There are built-in sound effects to indicate actions like pop-up windows. The level of announcements you get is configurable. Navigation commands within documents are the same as Jaws. Just as with Jaws, insert F gives information about the font.

Because NVDA is a free product, it doesn’t have free tech support. You can, however, purchase hourly tech support, in blocks of hours, at around $13, and the block will last a year. There’s also a very high-traffic mailing list to ask questions of other users. There’s also a training guide which you can purchase. It’s more structured, and has a series of tutorials. It’s $30 Australian, and is  quite good. There are three different courses, basic, Excel, and Word. Each are $30, and worth it. You can get them in audio for a bit more money, or as braille, which is also more expensive.

Ian contributed that you can ask an NVDA question in a Google search, and will most likely find an answer.

Excel, Word, Outlook, Thunderbird, and the major browsers work well. Occasionally you’ll find an application where NVDA works better than Jaws, perhaps because the developers wanted to use it.

Because of licensing, you can’t use your Jaws Eloquence voice in NVDA. To compare, the NVDA installer is 21 meg, and the Jaws installer is well over 100. NVDA also works faster. There’s an NVDA pronunciation dictionary.

As Jaws does, opening Google lands you in the search field. NVDA has the same concept of forms mode. The home and arrow keys work the same as Jaws when navigating webpages. There’s a current Chrome bug in which entering text into the search field causes the phrase to be spoken repeatedly as you enter each keystroke.

You can use H and numbers one, two and three to move through headings. Insert F7 brings up an elements list. It defaults to a links list, but if you hit shift tab, you have the choice to switch between which elements you want a list of, headings, buttons, landmarks etc. You can use insert Q to quickly turn off NVDA, and control alt N, to start it. Entering and exiting will give you a four-note tone to let you know it’s doing it.

Add-ons for NVDA are what Jaws calls Jaws scripts. These are little bits of code that people have designed to do specific tasks, remoting into a machine for example.

A member asked if it can be used on a Chrome book. Jason answered no, because Chrome books run Chrome OS, which is a totally different operating system.

NVDA does have a built-in OCR function.

 

Upcoming Meetings:

  • Next Meeting: Thursday, December 20 at 6pm
  • Location: CNIB Community Hub space at 1525 Yonge Street, just 1 block north of St Clair on the east side of Yonge, just south of Heath.
  • Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at 6pm.

 

GTT Toronto Adaptive Technology User Group Overview:

  • GTT Toronto is a chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
  • GTT Toronto promotes a self-help learning experience by holding monthly meetings to assist participants with assistive technology.
  • Each meeting consists of a feature technology topic, questions and answers about technology, and one-on-one training where possible.
  • Participants are encouraged to come to each meeting even if they are not interested in the feature topic because questions on any technology are welcome. The more participants the better able we will be equipped with the talent and experience to help each other.
  • There are GTT groups across Canada as well as a national GTT monthly toll free teleconference. You may subscribe to the National GTT blog to get email notices of teleconferences and notes from other GTT chapters. Visit:

http://www.GTTProgram.Blog/

There is a form at the bottom of that web page to enter your email.

 

 

Guest Post: Along With NVDA I’m Also Now Using JAWS 2019. Here’s Why. | Thoughts from David Goldfield

I had initially been a user of the JAWS screen reader since version 1.0 began shipping. I didn’t purchase it at that time but the product came out while I was working for Blazie Engineering in the 1990s. Blazie Engineering was a distributor of many third-party products, such as screen readers and speech synthesizers, and…
— Read on davidgoldfield.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/along-with-nvda-im-also-using-jaws-2019-heres-why/

Useful Resource: Reading PDF’s with jaws

This tip was sent to me by a GTT participant.

 

JAWS TIP OF THE WEEK

Many documents are distributed in PDF format. Unfortunately, not all PDF files are accessible to someone using JAWS. I’m going to talk about how to read PDF files and some techniques you can use if things aren’t reading correctly.

The application used to read PDF files is called Adobe Reader. The latest version of Adobe reader is version 11. On the desktop, it is labeled as “adobe Reader XI.”

If you are opening PDF files from links on web pages, there is a setting that should be changed in Internet Explorer to improve accessibility. This will ensure that the PDF opens in Adobe Reader and not inside Internet Explorer. You only need to do this procedure once.

To make this change, do the following:

1.Open Internet Explorer.

2.Press Alt+T to open the Tools menu.

3.Press the letter A or arrow down to Manage Add-ons and press Enter.

4.Press Alt+T to select the Toolbars and Extentions radio button.

5.Press Tab to move to the Filter By combo-box.

6.Press the letter A to select All Add-ons.

7.Press Tab to move to the list of add-ons.

8.Press the letter A to locate Adobe Reader. You should hear something like “Adobe PDF Reader, Adobe Systems, Incorporated, Enabled, 12/3/2014 1:31 AM, 11.0.10.32 9.If you hear the word “Enabled”, press Tab to locate the Disable button and press the Spacebar to activate it.

10.Press Alt+L to activate the Close button.

Reading pDF files:

For the best accessibility, a PDF file should be “tagged” for accessibility. When this has been done correctly, JAWS will know the correct reading order for the text. Also, you are able to navigate through a PDF file the same way you navigate through a web page. You will know if a PDF has been tagged if the document opens immediately without any dialog being displayed. Depending on the size of the document, JAWS may only let you read one page at a time. If you are moving through the document and JAWS stops reading after the first page, press Ctrl+Page Down to switch to the next page. You are able to use quick navigation commands to read through the document. These include H for heading and P for paragraph. Note that these commands only work with what is displayed using the virtual cursor. So, if you are only seeing one page at a time, pressing H will not move you to a heading on another page.

 

Dealing with untagged documents:

If you open a PDF file that is untagged, a dialog will pop up asking you how you want to deal with the document. You need to make a choice in this dialog before you can read the PDF file. T He first combo box asks you to select the reading order. Your choices are:

Infer reading order from document: Tries to automatically determine the correct reading order by analyzing the document (this is often the best choice).

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Reads the text as it appears on the page, from left to right and top to bottom. This may not work well on multi-column pages.

Use raw print stream

Use the Infer Reading Order selection first. If that doesn’t work, try Left to Right, Top to Bottom.

Pressing Tab from the Reading Order combo box takes you to a Radio button that lets you set how much text is displayed at a time. You can set this to either Read visible pages only or entire document. How this is set by default will depend on the size of the document. Setting this radio button to read entire document will cause adobe reader to process the entire document before you can read it. If the document is very large, your system can become unresponsive for a period of time while the document is being processed.

Pressing Tab again takes you to a checkbox titled Always use the settings from the reading preferences (do not show this dialog again).” I recommended leaving this checkbox unchecked, since you may need to change the settings on a per-document basis.

Pressing Tab one more time takes you to a Start button. Press Enter on this button to start processing the document. You can also press Enter from anywhere in this dialog to start processing.

Once processing is done, you should be able to read the document. If this document isn’t reading correctly, try a different reading order. You can press Ctrl+Shift+5 to change the reading order.

If you try and readthe document and you hear “Alert: Empty Document,” this means that there is no text in the document. Some PDF files just contained scanned images of the pages. In this case, you will need to use an OCR solution to read the document. Examples of software that will read these types of PDF files are Openbook and Kurzweil 1000. JAWS 16 can also read these type of PDF files.