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NVDA 2015.1 Has Arrived

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP


Keeping to their regular milestone schedule, the folks at NV-Access (Non Visual Desktop Access) have released the first official release of the popular NVDA screenreader of 2015. The unimaginative yet descriptive title of NVDA 2015.1 can’t lead you astray.  If you are running an even slightly recent version, you’ll be prompted to update when you next start the application.

There are several great new features in this release.  Most exciting to me—the ability to read MS Word files in “Browse mode.”  This causes a document to respond much like a webpage.  All of the quick navigation commands (such as pressing “h” for the next heading) as well as all of the others familiar “browse mode” features seem to work as expected.  Messages in Outlook also start in “browse mode” automatically.   There are several other features, like improved performance in Internet Explorer and Skype. NVDA is certainly starting off the year on the right foot.

For those who may be unfamiliar with NVDA, it is a free and open-source screen reader for Windows OS.  For some years now, it has been a very respectable alternative to other costly screen reading systems like Jaws For Windows.  In fact, NVDA works well enough that paying hundreds of dollars for another package becomes hard to justify unless you need a specific feature.  Many point to remote access as one of these features, though this may soon be a reality for NVDA users as well.

MDTAP also recommends NVDA for testing websites for non-visual accessibility.  The price is right, and the installation couldn’t be easier.  If the free voices aren’t to your liking, there are many paid alternatives available.  NVDA can also use the voices which come with MS Windows. Each successive version ships with higher and higher  quality voices, so try them out before breaking out your chest full of hard-earned sheckles.

If you find NVDA to your liking, consider  donating to their project.  A “Donate” menu option is provided directly within NVDA.



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