Posts in category GeneralNews

NVDA 2014.1rc1 Released

NVDA 2014.1rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be identical to the final 2014.1 release.

Seeking Testers for NVDA Quick Books 2014 Support

Recently, NV Access has been taking part in a project between My Blind Spot and Intuit to make Intuit Quick Books accessible to the blind. Thanks to some support from My Blind Spot to NV Access, we have been working on support for Quick Books 2014 in NVDA.

Please find a message below from Albert J Rizzi seeking testers for the new Quick Books support. Note that the code is not yet in next or master snapshots, but will be available to you as try builds if you choose to join the project. Eventually once stable, the code will either be an add-on freely available, or integrated into NVDA itself.

--- Message --- We are seeking experienced QuickBooks and NVDA users. Note that the test is not a training platform for either, so if you do not already know NVDA, or have a strong familiarity with QuickBooks, please do not apply for this test.

Interested individuals should contact info@myblindspot.org

Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed. Founder and CEO My Blind Spot, Inc. 90 Broad Street - 18th Fl. New York, New York 10004 www.myblindspot.org PH: 917-553-0347 --- end message ---

NVDA2013.2Released

NV Access would like to announce the release of NVDA 2013.2. To find out more or to download a copy, please see the official NV Access announcement.

As always, we would like to thank all contributors for making this release possible.

NVDA 2013.1 Released

NV Access would like to announce the release of NVDA 2013.1. To find out more or to download a copy, please read the Official NV Access Announcement.

We would like to extend our thanks to all contributors for making this release possible.

Thanks for your support.

NVDA 2013.1rc2 Released

NVDA 2013.1rc2 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2013.1 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2013.1 release.

Changes from rc1 to rc2:

  • OpenOffice and LibreOffice Writer no longer crash when entering text. (#3177)
  • Fixed a problem which sometimes occurred when connecting to or pressing keys on Papenmeier BRAILLEX newer models. (#3174)
  • When updating a previous installation, old eSpeak voices are now removed. (#3181)
  • it is now possible to use browse mode for pages in Internet Explorer 10 when in standards mode; e.g. www.gmail.com login page. (#3151)
  • Updated eSpeak speech synthesizer to 1.47.09. (#3141, #3172)
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2013.1rc1 Released

NVDA 2013.1rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2013.1 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2013.1 release.

Changes from beta2 to rc1:

  • NVDA no longer freezes when using Asian character input in some .NET applications. (#3005)
  • Updated eSpeak speech synthesizer to 1.47.07. (#3124, #3132, #3141, #3143)
  • Fixed problems when interacting with Microsoft PowerPoint presentations in some cases, particularly in protected view. (#3007)
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2013.1beta2 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2013.1beta2. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2013.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2013.1 release.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • Fixed key map and reconnection problem for Papenmeier BRAILLEX older models. (#3074)
  • Support for automatic language switching when reading documents in Microsoft Word. (#2047)
  • Fixed problems related to whitespace at the end of lines when using a braille display in certain cases. (#2466)
  • If NVDA falls back to no braille due to the configured braille display failing when NVDA starts, the configured display is no longer automatically set to no braille. This means that now, the original display will be tried again next time NVDA starts. (#2264)
  • Updated eSpeak speech synthesizer to 1.47.04. (#2680)
  • In applications using the Java Access Bridge, braille displays are now updated correctly when the caret moves in editable text fields . (#3107)
  • Support the form landmark in browse mode documents that support landmarks. (#2997)
  • The eSpeak synthesizer driver now handles reading by character more appropriately (e.g. announcing a foreign letter's name or value rather than just its sound or generic name). (#3106)
  • Fixed an issue with Chinese input in PowerPoint where finalizing a composition would cause the slide, shape and edit field to be spoken, rather than just the finalized composition like as in all other applications.
  • NVDA no longer fails to copy user settings for use on logon and other secure screens when the user's profile path contains non-ASCII characters. (#3092)
  • Updated translations. (#3067)
  • Updated documentation. (#3065, #3075)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2013.1beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2013.1beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2013.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2013.1 release.

Highlights of this release include a more intuitive and consistent laptop keyboard layout; basic support for Microsoft PowerPoint; support for long descriptions in web browsers; and support for input of computer braille for braille displays which have a braille keyboard. Important note to laptop layout users: The laptop keyboard layout has been completely redesigned in order to make it more intuitive and consistent. The new layout uses the arrow keys in combination with the NVDA key and other modifiers for review commands. Therefore, several of the other commands in the laptop layout had to be moved around. Some of the new keys are listed below:

  • Say all: NVDA+a
  • Read current line: NVDA+l
  • Read current text selection: NVDA+shift+s
  • Report status ba: rNVDA+shift+end

In addition, among other changes, all of the object navigation, text review, mouse click and synth settings ring commands have changed. Please see the Commands Quick Reference document for the new keys.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.3.1 Released

NVDA 2012.3.1 has just been released. This release includes updates and fixes to several translations. There are no functional changes.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.3 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2012.3. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

This release includes around 30 new features and 50 bug fixes. Highlights include support for Asian character input; experimental support for touch screens on Windows 8; reporting of page numbers and improved support for tables in Adobe Reader; table navigation commands in focused table rows and Windows list-view controls; support for several more braille displays; and reporting of row and column headers in Microsoft Excel.

Changes from 2012.3rc1 to 2012.3:

  • NVDA can again function in the Yahoo! Mail message list when used from Internet Explorer. (#2780)
  • NVDA no longer completely fails to read spreadsheet cells in OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice Calc for non-English locales.
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Many thanks go to all the translators and volunteers for their time in preparing NVDA 2012.3 for use much the world over. But most importantly thanks to those who have donated to help keep this project alive. NVDA provides independent access to computers for over 6000 blind and vision impaired people around the world each day, at home, at school and in the workplace. This is made possible due to your support.

NVDA2012.3rc1 Released

NVDA 2012.3rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2012.3 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.3 release.

Changes from beta3 to rc1:

  • Eliminated spurious double characters in Adobe Reader in some rare cases. (#2756)
  • Fixed an issue which caused certain add-ons which create temporary files (such as the OCR add-on) to fail when the temporary directory path contains non-English characters. (#2761)
  • In browse mode in Mozilla applications, the label of certain menu buttons is now rendered instead of only whitespace.
  • In browse mode, menu buttons are now reported correctly.
  • Fixed a serious lag when moving around the Visual Studio 10 code editor with braille enabled. (#2759)
  • The entire composition string is no longer read as it changes when typing with the Boshiamy Chinese Input method with reporting of candidates disabled.
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.3beta3 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2012.3beta3. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2012.3 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.3 release.

Highlights of this release include support for Asian character input; experimental support for touch screens on Windows 8; reporting of page numbers and improved support for tables in Adobe Reader; table navigation commands in focused table rows and Windows list-view controls; support for several more braille displays; and reporting of row and column headers in Microsoft Excel.

Changes from beta2 to beta3:

  • Fix a bug that stopped NVDA functioning correctly in Windows Explorer and the Start Menu on Windows XP. (#2748)

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • The entire content of some UI Automation editable text controls (e.g. the Search Box in the Windows 7/8 Start Menu) is no longer announced every time it changes.
  • Fixed an issue that caused the Papenmeier braille display driver to be unavailable. (#2684)
  • When moving between groups on the Windows 8 start screen, the label of a group is only announced if it is a custom label (rather than also when its simply the name of the first tile in the group). (#2658)
  • When opening the Windows 8 start screen, the focus is correctly placed on the first tile, rather than jumping to the root of the start screen which can confuse navigation. (#2720)
  • It is now possible to interact with the NVDA menu and other context menus within NVDA using NVDA's touch screen gestures. (#2717)
  • The touch keyboard now appears when activating the password field on the Windows Logon screen using touch.
  • (for developers) Add-on translation support can now be used within the add-on installTasks module. (#2715)
  • NVDA will no longer fail to start when the user's profile path contains certain multibyte characters. (#2729)
  • Fixes to automatic page turning during say all in Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Most Metro apps in Windows 8 (e.g. Mail, Calendar) no longer activate Browse Mode for the entire app.
  • Fixed a bug that stopped Chinese New Phonetic candidate lists from reading on XP if Auto Report Candidates was enabled.
  • Keyboard layout switching is again now announced in Windows command consoles on Windows 7.
  • Keyboard layout changes are again announced in Windows 8. (#2644)
  • In browse mode in Google Chrome, the text of tabs is now rendered correctly.
  • In Adobe Reader XI, page labels are now reported where present, reflecting changes to page numbering in different sections, etc. In earlier versions, this is not possible and only sequential page numbers are reported.
  • The list-view control in Agenda Jobe now works correctly. (#2742)
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.3beta2 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2012.3beta2. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2012.3 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.3 release.

Highlights of this release include support for Asian character input; experimental support for touch screens on Windows 8; reporting of page numbers and improved support for tables in Adobe Reader; table navigation commands in focused table rows and Windows list-view controls; support for several more braille displays; and reporting of row and column headers in Microsoft Excel.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • The entire content of some UI Automation editable text controls (e.g. the Search Box in the Windows 7/8 Start Menu) is no longer announced every time it changes.
  • Fixed an issue that caused the Papenmeier braille display driver to be unavailable. (#2684)
  • When moving between groups on the Windows 8 start screen, the label of a group is only announced if it is a custom label (rather than also when its simply the name of the first tile in the group). (#2658)
  • When opening the Windows 8 start screen, the focus is correctly placed on the first tile, rather than jumping to the root of the start screen which can confuse navigation. (#2720)
  • It is now possible to interact with the NVDA menu and other context menus within NVDA using NVDA's touch screen gestures. (#2717)
  • The touch keyboard now appears when activating the password field on the Windows Logon screen using touch.
  • (for developers) Add-on translation support can now be used within the add-on installTasks module. (#2715)
  • NVDA will no longer fail to start when the user's profile path contains certain multibyte characters. (#2729)
  • Fixes to automatic page turning during say all in Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Most Metro apps in Windows 8 (e.g. Mail, Calendar) no longer activate Browse Mode for the entire app.
  • Fixed a bug that stopped Chinese New Phonetic candidate lists from reading on XP if Auto Report Candidates was enabled.
  • Keyboard layout switching is again now announced in Windows command consoles on Windows 7.
  • Keyboard layout changes are again announced in Windows 8. (#2644)
  • In browse mode in Google Chrome, the text of tabs is now rendered correctly.
  • In Adobe Reader XI, page labels are now reported where present, reflecting changes to page numbering in different sections, etc. In earlier versions, this is not possible and only sequential page numbers are reported.
  • The list-view control in Agenda Jobe now works correctly. (#2742)
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.3beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2012.3beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2012.3 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.3 release.

Highlights of this release include support for Asian character input; experimental support for touch screens on Windows 8; reporting of page numbers and improved support for tables in Adobe Reader; table navigation commands in focused table rows and Windows list-view controls; support for several more braille displays; and reporting of row and column headers in Microsoft Excel.

Download links and change log:

Come and See NVDA at Vision Australia's Texpo 2012

NV Access will be demonstrating NVDA at Texpo 2012, an annual public event run by Vision Australia to showcase current technologies and services available for those who are blind and vision impaired in Australia. On August 24th and 25th in Melbourne, August 31st and September 1st in Sydney, and September 7th and 8th in Brisbane, you will get a chance to chat with the developers of NVDA and learn about its benefits and features in several 45 minute sessions run over the course of each day.

For more information about locations and what else will be at Texpo, please visit the Texpo 2012 website.

Presented by lead developers Michael Curran and James Teh, The NVDA sessions will introduce and demonstrate NVDA, including browsing the web, working with documents and much more. These sessions run for around 45 minutes, starting at 10:30, 11:45, 1:15 and 2:30 on Friday and 10:15, 11:30, 1:00 and 2:15 on Saturday.

Michael and James will also be available for questions after each session.

We look forward to seeing you there.

High-Quality Voices Available for NVDA

NV Access is very happy to announce the availability of the Nuance Vocalizer range of voices for NVDA. These voices, which have proven to be popular on iPhones and the Mac, can now all be purchased for one affordable price for use with NVDA. Whether you use NVDA installed on one computer, or carry it around with you for access at anytime on a USB flash drive, these performant and high-quality voices will be there when you need them.

Purchasing Vocalizer today for 75 EUR gives you access to over 50 different voices covering more than 30 major languages.

Vocalizer can be purchased from Tiflotecnia Lda and other local distributors. For each purchase NV Access will receive at least 10 EUR to help support the NVDA project.

For more information about Vocalizer with NVDA, trial downloads and a list of distributors, please visit the official Vocalizer NVDA website.

To use Vocalizer, NVDA 2012.2 or higher is required. Please visit our Download page to get the latest version of NVDA if you have not done so already.

NVDA 2012.2.1 Released

NVDA 2012.2.1 has just been released. This release addresses several potential security issues (by upgrading Python to 2.7.3). Upgrading is recommended.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.2 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2012.2 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Highlights of this release include an in-built installer and portable creation feature, automatic updates, easy management of new NVDA add-ons, announcement of graphics in Microsoft Word, support for Windows 8 Metro style apps, and several important bug fixes.

Note that NVDA is now distributed in one package. Rather than separate portable and installer versions, there is now just one file that, when run, will start a temporary copy of NVDA and will allow you to install or generate a portable distribution.

Changes from 2012.2rc2 to 2012.2:

  • Updated translations.
  • More fixes related to downloading updates when installed on a system running Eset NOD32 HTTP Scanner. (#2352)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.2rc2 Released

NVDA 2012.2rc2 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2012.2 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.2 release.

Changes from rc1 to rc2:

  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.
  • Downloading updates no longer fails when installed on a system running Eset NOD32 HTTP Scanner. (#2352)
  • Creating a portable copy no longer fails in certain circumstances (specifically, when a destination file is in use because it hasn't yet been released by another application).
  • Creating a portable copy in a network location now works correctly.
  • When installing an NVDA update in Windows XP and running as a user without administrator privileges, the update is now installed correctly and system files are no longer inappropriately copied into the program directory. (#2391)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.2rc1 Released

NVDA 2012.2rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2012.2 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.2 release.

Changes from beta2 to rc1:

  • Fixed an issue where NVDA would fail to update on some systems running particular anti-virus software. (#2347)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.2beta2 Released

NVDA 2012.2beta2 has just been released. Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.2 release.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • Fix an error that stopped NVDA installing on a system where NVDA was previously installed in a non-default directory. (#2332)
  • In Internet Explorer 9, NVDA no longer reads unwanted content when focus moves inside certain landmarks or focusable elements (specifically, a div element which is focusable or has an ARIA landmark role).
  • Removed the Create Autorun File option from the Create Portable Copy dialog as it did not work as expected. (#2321)
  • in browse mode, the jump to end of container quick navigation script is now , (comma) not shift+. This is more consistent with the other quick navigation keys and fixes a particular locale issue.
  • When creating a portable copy or installing, there are a few more cases where NVDA can now ask the user to retry or cancel for particular errors.
  • The Add button in the Add-ons Dialog has been renamed to Install. this button now has a shortcut of alt+i, rather than the add-ons list.
  • Fix a bug that stopped translation support in Add-ons from working if the add-on code was located in a directory with certain non-English characters.
  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.2beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2012.2beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2012.2 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.2 release.

Highlights of this release include an in-built installer and portable creation feature, automatic updates, easy management of new NVDA add-ons, announcement of graphics in Microsoft Word, support for Windows 8 Metro style apps, and several important bug fixes.

Note that NVDA is now distributed in one package. Rather than separate portable and installer versions, there is now just one file that, when run, will start a temporary copy of NVDA and will allow you to install or generate a portable distribution.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2012.1 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Highlights of NVDA 2012.1 include features for more fluent reading of braille; indication of document formatting in braille; access to much more formatting information and improved performance in Microsoft Word; and support for the iTunes Store.

Changes from 2012.1rc1 to 2012.1:

  • Updated translations.
  • The HumanWare Brailliant B 80 can now be used via bluetooth.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.1rc1 Released

NVDA 2012.1rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2012.1 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.1 release.

Changes from beta2 to rc1:

  • Updated translations.
  • When using eSpeak, speech no longer goes silent in some cases in the Save As dialog of the NVDA Log Viewer. (#2145)
  • NVDA will no longer freeze in Microsoft Word under Windows XP when inputting with IME.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.1beta2 Released

NVDA 2012.1beta2 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2012.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.1 release.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • Updated documentation. (#1929, #2076, #2078, #1290)
  • Updated translations. (#2101)
  • In Firefox 11, the move to containing virtual buffer command (NVDA+control+space) now works as it should to escape embedded objects such as Flash content.
  • Long (30 characters or more) graphic names guessed from URLs are now truncated, rather than stripped completely. (#1989)
  • Updated liblouis braille translator to 2.4.1.
  • NVDA now restarts itself correctly (e.g. after changing the configured language) when it is located in a directory which contains non-ASCII characters. (#2079)
  • If braille reading by paragraph is enabled and the caret is at the end of some editable text fields, the last paragraph is now correctly displayed instead of nothing. (#2075)
  • It is again possible to route the cursor to the space at the end of the line/paragraph using the cursor routing keys on a braille display.
  • Braille correctly respects the settings for reporting of object shortcut keys, position information and descriptions.
  • In browse mode, object names containing certain rare Unicode characters no longer cause errors. (#2090)
  • In Mozilla applications, switching between browse and focus modes is no longer slow with braille enabled. (#2095)
  • Routing the cursor to the space at the end of the line/paragraph using braille cursor routing keys in some editable text fields now works correctly instead of routing to the start of the text. (#2096)
  • For developers: Braille output is now logged at level input/output. First, the untranslated text of all regions is logged, followed by the braille cells of the window being displayed. (#2102)
  • NVDA functions correctly again in the VirtualBox Create New Virtual Machine dialog. (#2089)
  • NVDA again works correctly with the Audiologic Tts3 synthesizer. (#2109)
  • NVDA will now announce footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word even when they appear directly after punctuation. (#2071)
  • In Microsoft Word, comments within formatted text no longer cause strange formatting announcements before and after the comment.
  • Microsoft Word documents are correctly treated as multi-line. This causes braille to behave more appropriately when a document is focused.
  • New braille translation tables: Icelandic 8 dot computer braille, Tamil grade 1, Spanish 8 dot computer braille, Farsi grade 1.
  • In Microsoft Word, moving review or braille away from the cursor now works correctly.
  • In Microsoft Internet Explorer, errors no longer occur when focusing on certain rare controls. (#2121)
  • For developers: subclasses of the sapi5 synthDriver can now override _getVoiceTokens and extend init to support custom voice tokens such as with sapi.spObjectTokenCategory to get tokens from a custom registry location.
  • Changing the pronunciation of punctuation/symbols by the user will now take effect straight away, rather than requiring NVDA to be restarted or auto language switching to be disabled.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2012.1beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2012.1beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2012.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2012.1 release.

Highlights of NVDA 2012.1 include features for more fluent reading of braille; indication of document formatting in braille; access to much more formatting information and improved performance in Microsoft Word; and support for the iTunes Store.

Download links and change log:

NV Access Offers Phone-based Support and Training to Australian Users

NV Access now offers phone-based support and training for users of NVDA in Australia for a flat rate of AU$59.95 per hour. Hours are prepaid so that once purchased, you can give us a call any week day to have your query answered. Whether you have a specific question or you want a thorough introduction to the basics or more advanced features, we're only a phone call away. We can also offer face-to-face training for organisations or groups of individuals. Please contact us if interested.

Update on NVDA and ETI-Eloquence

Due to the high demand to be able to use Nuance ETI-Eloquence or IBM ViaVoice TTS with NVDA, a few months ago, we asked for expressions of interest in purchasing Nuance ETI-Eloquence from NV Access. We did receive sufficient interest to make this viable and began negotiating with Nuance. More than three months ago, We raised several concerns with Nuance concerning the contract they provided. Unfortunately, Nuance have provided no response, despite several requests from us.

Given our concerns about the contract and Nuance's apparent lack of interest in our business, we decided to investigate IBM ViaVoice TTS again. This offers several advantages, including better pricing, more languages and, in our experience, far better customer service. The major obstacle we hit in our initial investigation was that it required installation due to its use of the machine registry. Recently, we devised and implemented a work around for this. We then contacted Wizzard Software to begin negotiations. Unfortunately, they informed us that they are discontinuing sale of the product, so this is no longer an option. We've contacted IBM in the hope that they may be able to help, but this is extremely unlikely.

We recognise the importance of ETI-Eloquence to many of our users. As such, we have expended significant effort and time attempting to provide a solution. Regretably, all our efforts have failed and as far as we know, there is nothing more we can do.

NVDA 2011.3 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2011.3 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Highlights of NVDA 2011.3 include automatic speech language switching when reading documents with appropriate language information; support for 64 bit Java Runtime Environments; reporting of text formatting in browse mode in Mozilla applications; better handling of application crashes and freezes; and initial fixes for Windows 8.

Changes from 2011.3rc1 to 2011.3:

  • Updated documentation.
  • Updated translations.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.3rc1 Released

NVDA 2011.3rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2011.3 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.3 release.

Changes from beta1 to rc1:

  • Updated documentation.
  • Updated translations.
  • NVDA no longer fails to recognise that the focus has moved when switching windows in some cases; e.g. opening a new window in Mozilla applications. (#1851)
  • With mouse tracking enabled, moving the mouse over certain editable text fields (such as in Synaptics Pointing Device Settings and SpeechLab SpeakText) no longer causes the application to crash. (#672)
  • NVDA no longer freezes when moving around in the system menu in Internet Explorer 8 on Windows XP. (#1831)
  • Basic support for Design Science MathPlayer.
  • NVDA now functions correctly in several about dialogs in applications distributed with Windows XP, including the About dialog in Notepad and the About Windows dialog. (#1853, #1855)
  • Symbol pronunciation and character descriptions for Chinese are now reported correctly.
  • If automatic language switching is disabled, NVDA's user interface language is used for symbol pronunciation and character descriptions instead of the language reported by the synthesizer. (#1861)
  • Reviewing by word now works correctly in Windows Edit controls. (#1877)
  • Updated eSpeak speech synthesizer to 1.45.47. (#1879)
  • Moving out of an editable text field with leftArrow, upArrow or pageUp while in focus mode now correctly switches to browse mode when automatic focus mode for caret movement is enabled. (#1733)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.3beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2011.3beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2011.3 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.3 release.

Highlights of NVDA 2011.3 include automatic speech language switching when reading documents with appropriate language information; support for 64 bit Java Runtime Environments; reporting of text formatting in browse mode in Mozilla applications; better handling of application crashes and freezes; and initial fixes for Windows 8.

Download links and change log:

How Has NVDA Helped You?

In order to best meet the needs of our users, we'd love to hear about how you're using NVDA in your daily life. Do you use it at home, at school or in the work place? How often do you use it? What features of NVDA do you find most useful? Let us know how important NVDA is to you. If interested, please submit a paragraph or 2. We are especially interested in hearing from people using NVDA in education settings, and from those using it in Australia. But of course any story is still very welcome. Many many thanks to all of our users.

NVDA 2011.2 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2011.2 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Highlights of NVDA 2011.2 include major improvements concerning punctuation and symbols, including configurable levels, custom labelling and character descriptions; no pauses at the end of lines during say all; improved support for ARIA in Internet Explorer; better support for XFA/LiveCycle PDF documents in Adobe Reader; access to text written to the screen in more applications; and access to formatting and color information for text written to the screen.

Changes from 2011.2rc1 to 2011.2:

  • Updated documentation.
  • Updated translations.
  • If NVDA is unable to start, failure to play the Windows critical stop sound no longer clobbers the critical error message in the log file.
  • Corrected the fix for focus tracking in the Outlook 2010 message list when NVDA is installed or running as administrator with UAC enabled. (#1285)
  • In Internet Explorer and other MSHTML multi-line editable text fields, backspacing at the end of the line is now reported correctly. (#1605)

Download links and change log:

Interested in purchasing Nuance ETI-Eloquence from NV Access?

NV Access is investigating the possibility of selling Nuance ETI-Eloquence for use with the NVDA screen reader. If you would be interested in purchasing this product if it becomes available, please register your interest.

NVDA 2011.2rc1 Released

NVDA 2011.2rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2011.2 release.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.2 release.

Changes from beta3 to rc1:

  • Updated documentation.
  • Updated translations.
  • NVDA no longer temporarily freezes or refuses to speak when in the Move to / Copy to dialogs in Windows Live Mail. (#574)
  • In Outlook 2010, NVDA will now correctly track the focus in the message list. (#1285)
  • Additional key bindings have been added for the MDV Lilli braille display. (#241)
  • Some USB connection issues have been resolved with the MDV Lilli braille display. (#241)
  • When using flat review, moving by word again stops when it encounters blank characters. (#1663)
  • In Internet explorer and other MSHTML controls, spaces are no longer ignored in browse mode in certain cases (e.g. after a link).
  • In Internet Explorer and other MSHTML controls, some extraneous line breaks have been eliminated in browse mode. specifically, HTML elements with a display style of None no longer force a line break. (#1685)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.2beta3 Released

NVDA 2011.2beta3 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2011.2 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.2 release.

Changes from beta2 to beta3:

  • Updated documentation.
  • Updated translations.
  • Fixed failure of the report text formatting command in some translations. (#1621, #1653)
  • New braille translation tables: Slovene grade 1, Serbian grade 1.
  • When NVDA is installed on Windows Vista or Windows 7, lines can again be read in Microsoft Word.
  • In the Windows 7 Control Panel, lists in the Windows Firewall and Default Programs sections are again usable.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.2beta2 Released

NVDA 2011.2beta2 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2011.2 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.2 release.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • Update documentation.
  • Updated translations.
  • Corrected the descriptions reported for some commands in input help mode.
  • In Windows 7, the manufacturer for the NVDA service is now reported as "NV Access Inc" instead of unknown.
  • In Microsoft Word 2010 NVDA will now automatically read confirmation dialogs. (#1538)
  • Say all no longer stops prematurely. (#1595)
  • NVDA no longer freezes when moving around in the system menu in Internet Explorer 8 on Windows XP. (#1577)
  • In multi-line editable text fields in Internet Explorer and other MSHTML controls, selection on lines after the first is now reported correctly. (#1590)
  • Adjustments to English symbol information, including improvements to speaking of times, currency, negative numbers and ellipses.
  • Improved moving by word in many cases, including browse mode and Windows Edit controls. (#1580)
  • The NVDA installer no longer shows garbled text for Hong Kong versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. (#1596)
  • Selection changes are again correctly reported on list items, tree items and grid rows in Mozilla applications. (#1600)
  • In firefox brows mode, NVDA no longer refuses to include content that is inside a focusable node with an ARIA role of presentation.
  • NVDA no longer fails to load the Microsoft Speech API version 5 synthesizer if the configuration contains settings for that synthesizer but is missing the voice setting. (#1599)
  • NVDA no longer fails to start when the Galician language is used. (#1614)
  • In editable text fields in Internet Explorer and other MSHTML controls, NVDA no longer lags or freezes when braille is enabled.
  • In Internet Explorer, NVDA once again correctly remembers the position you were at when returning to a previously visited web page. (#1604)
  • In Microsoft Word with braille enabled, lines on pages after the first page are now reported correctly. (#1603)
  • In Microsoft Word 2003, lines of right-to-left text can once again be read with braille enabled. (#627)
  • In Microsoft Word, say all now works correctly when the document does not end with a sentence ending.
  • New braille translation table: Ethiopic grade 1.
  • Support for the calendar control found in the Date and Time Information dialog accessed from the Windows 7 clock. (#1637)
  • Removed the NVDA Microsoft Excel Cell Editor dialog, as it can't display dates and other formatted values correctly. The Excel cell editing field can be read and navigated, so this dialog isn't necessary anyway. (#1636)
  • When opening a plain text message in Windows Live Mail 2011, NVDA will correctly focus on the message document allowing it to be read.
  • The authenticode signature on NVDA executables is again timestamped to allow them to run after the certificate has expired. (#1644)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.2beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2011.2beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2011.2 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.2 release.

Highlights of NVDA 2011.2 include major improvements concerning punctuation and symbols, including configurable levels, custom labelling and character descriptions; no pauses at the end of lines during say all; improved support for ARIA in Internet Explorer; better support for XFA/LiveCycle PDF documents in Adobe Reader; access to text written to the screen in more applications; and access to formatting and color information for text written to the screen.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.1.1 Released

NVDA 2011.1.1 has just been released. This release fixes several security and other important issues found in the 2011.1 release. Upgrading is highly recommended.

Fixes in this release:

  • The Donate item in the NVDA menu is now disabled when running on the logon, lock, UAC and other secure Windows screens, as this is a security risk. (#1419)
  • It is now impossible to copy or paste within NVDA's user interface while on secure desktops (lock screen, UAC screen and windows logon) as this is a security risk. (#1421)
  • In Firefox 4, the move to containing virtual buffer command (NVDA+control+space) now works as it should to escape embedded objects such as Flash content. (#1429)
  • When speaking of command keys is enabled, shifted characters are no longer incorrectly spoken as command keys. (#1422)
  • When speaking of command keys is enabled, pressing space with modifiers other than shift (such as control and alt) is now reported as a command key. (#1424)
  • Logging is now completely disabled when running on the logon, lock, UAC and other secure Windows screens, as this is a security risk. (#1435)
  • In input help mode, Gestures are now logged even if they are not bound to a script (in accordance with the user guide). (#1425)
  • Updated translations.

Download links and change log:

NVDA chosen as sourceforge.net Project Of the Month for March 2011

NVDA has been chosen as the project of the month for March 2011 by SourceForge. Every month SourceForge chooses one of its hosted projects and publishes detailed answers of about 20 questions asked of the project's lead developers on the SourceForge website.

For a bit of an insight into why NVDA was started and how the project is managed, why not read the answers published by SourceForge.

SourceForge is a service for hosting open source software projects. They provide version controled storage for source code, bug tracking and other developer tools, and also hosting of project releases for download. This last feature is mainly what NVDA makes heavy use of today.

We would like to thank SourceForge for choosing NVDA as this month's Project of the Month!

NVDA 2011.1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2011.1 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Highlights of NVDA 2011.1 include automatic reporting of new text output in mIRC, PuTTY, Tera Term and SecureCRT; support for global plugins; announcement of bullets and numbering in Microsoft Word; additional key bindings for braille displays, including keys to move to the next and previous line; support for several Baum, HumanWare and APH braille displays; and reporting of colors for some controls, including IBM Lotus Symphony text controls.

Changes from 2011.1rc1 to 2011.1:

  • Updated translations.
  • Fixed a formatting error in the User Guide.
  • Fixed announcement of the left control key in languages other than English.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.1rc1 Released

NVDA 2011.1rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2011.1 release.

Note that there may be some minor updates to some translations (particularly of the what's new document) in the final release.

Changes from beta2 to rc1:

  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.
  • The status bar in Media Player Classic Home Cinema is now recognised.
  • When reading by line in AkelPad with word wrap enabled, NVDA no longer reads the first character of the following line at the end of the current line.
  • In the Visual Studio 2005/2008 code editor, NVDA no longer reads the entire text after every typed character. (#975)
  • A non-textual character (specifically, a Unicode BOM) is no longer placed at the start of the title of many of NVDA's documentation files.
  • Fixed the issue where some braille displays weren't cleared properly when NVDA was exited or the display was changed.
  • When reverting to saved configuration and a braille display is active in the saved configuration, the display presents the appropriate focus or review position instead of being blank.
  • Fixed a bug where the first command immediately after NVDA was started did not work in some cases, especially on braille displays.
  • The Freedom Scientific Focus 40 Blue braille display can now be used when connected via bluetooth. (#1345)
  • The initial focus is no longer sometimes spoken twice when NVDA starts. (#1359)
  • NVDA no longer fails to start when configured to use Spanish or Galician. (#1361)
  • In the NVDA General Settings dialog, the name of the default language is no longer shown for the SR language code. (#1363)
  • NVDA no longer freezes when you attempt to activate an NVDA settings dialog using a keyboard shortcut when another NVDA settings dialog is already open. (#1372)
  • You can no longer open a second NVDA settings dialog if you try twice.
  • Fixed the issue where certain links weren't being recognised correctly in MSHTML controls. This included links in Windows XP Update and email messages in Windows Live Mail. (#1330)
  • NVDA now gracefully handles encoding errors in the user input gesture map.
  • Locale input gesture maps are now correctly copied into binary builds.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.1beta2 Released

NVDA 2011.1beta2 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2011.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.1 release.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • Updated translations.
  • Updated documentation.
  • Fixed problems when reading text in Windows command consoles with reporting of line numbers enabled.
  • The Elements List dialog for virtual buffers is now usable by sighted users. All controls are visible on screen. (#1321)
  • The list of entries in the Speech Dictionary dialog is now more readable by sighted users. The list is now large enough to show all of its columns on screen. (#90)
  • The reload plugins command no longer causes NVDA to stop loading plugins from the user configuration directory.
  • On ALVA BC640/BC680 braille displays, NVDA no longer disregards display keys that are still held down after another key is released.
  • Adobe Reader X no longer crashes after leaving the untagged document options before the processing dialog appears. (#1218)
  • NVDA now switches to the appropriate braille display driver when you revert to saved configuration. (#1346)
  • The Visual Studio 2008 Project Wizard is read correctly again. (#974)
  • Fixed the issue where certain key combinations on braille displays never activated the command to which they were bound; e.g. b2+b4+b5 on Handy Tech displays. (#1349)
  • The ALVA BC640/680 braille display driver works again.
  • NVDA no longer completely fails to work in applications which contain non-ASCII characters in their executable name. (#1352)
  • Errors in the user input gesture map no longer cause NVDA to fail to start. Instead, a dialog is presented informing the user about the error, after which NVDA continues normally. (#1342)
  • The user input gesture map is now reloaded when you revert to saved configuration.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2011.1beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2011.1beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2011.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2011.1 release.

Highlights of NVDA 2011.1 include reporting of colors for some controls; automatic reporting of new text output in mIRC, PuTTY, Tera Term and SecureCRT; support for global plugins; announcement of bullets and numbering in Microsoft Word; additional key bindings for braille displays, including keys to move to the next and previous line; and support for several Baum, HumanWare and APH braille displays.

Download links and change log:

NVDA Needs You

As you are all aware, NV Access, the organisation which develops NVDA, is a non-profit organisation which is predicated on making software for the blind that requires no extra cost than the purchase of a computer. What you may not know, however, is that to do this, we must seek grants or donations from larger organisations to survive. Unfortunately, the present financial climate has meant that these grants are much less forthcoming than in the past, despite the accolades that NVDA has received over the past couple of years.

Jamie and Mick, the core developers of NVDA, are essentially paid minimum wage for their experience, knowledge and skills, which they are prepared to accept because they love the fact that they are making a positive contribution to the blind community and the accessibility industry more generally. Despite their willingness to carry on, however, there will be no money to pay them after July 2011 unless we receive some financial assistance. Rest assured, we will be seeking grants from and alliances with other companies, but the stark reality is that these may not come to fruition in time to save NVDA. In short, we desperately need your help.

For the last release of NVDA, our records indicate that there were 50,000 downloads. Even if we discount 20,000 for those who may have downloaded NVDA multiple times, we are left with 30,000 individual users. If every user donated $10 today, we would have $300,000 that we could use to pay Jamie and Mick to continue to develop NVDA full time for the foreseeable future.

We are very proud that we provide a free and open source screen reader for our community and for the accessibility industry to use. The principles that underlie the decision to make NVDA free and open source are as important to the committee of NV Access now as they were when Mick first envisaged the potential of NVDA. However, for NVDA to be developed in the way that you have become accustomed, we need your help. We are not being greedy or exploitative, merely pragmatic and honest. Please think of how NVDA might have helped you, or may help others, and donate today.

We sincerely thank you for any contribution you can make.

The NV Access Committee

NVDA 2010.2 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2010.2 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Notable features of NVDA 2010.2 include greatly simplified object navigation; virtual buffers for Adobe Flash content; access to many previously inaccessible controls by retrieving text written to the screen; flat review of screen text; support for IBM Lotus Symphony documents; reporting of table row and column headers in Mozilla Firefox; and significantly improved user documentation.

Changes from 2010.2rc1 to 2010.2:

  • Updated translations.
  • Fixed access to some Windows Security dialogs such as the dialog which appears when installing unsigned drivers in Windows 7.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2010.2rc1 Released

NVDA 2010.2rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2010.2 release.

Note that there may be some minor updates to some translations (particularly of the what's new document) in the final release.

Changes from beta2 to rc1:

  • Updated translations.
  • Updated What's New.
  • Fixed the issue where copying text to the clipboard from flat review of the screen only copied part of the text in some circumstances. (#948)
  • When moving the main cursor in virtual buffers, the review cursor will always review the entire document as intended, rather than reviewing the focused object. This was supposed to be fixed in beta2, but the fix was flawed.
  • NVDA will now once again function in Windows XP with no service pack. This was supposed to be fixed in beta2, but another change had to be made to make this work correctly. (#908)

Download links and change log:

September Fundathon total

At the end of the first, rather successful September fundathon, donations for NVDA totalled AU$590.00 (Around US$570.00 at time of writing). We would like to very much thank all who donated. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have decided to put these donations this time towards a specific project, which is to start implementing support for multitouch devices in NVDA. We had first planned to purchase a tablet PC, however it now seems that probably just a stand-alone multitouch monitor would be useful enough to start testing. We have some ideas on brands and models, and we will post more info once we have the new toy and start researching / implementing multitouch support in NVDA.

NVDA 2010.2beta2 Released

NVDA 2010.2beta2 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2010.2 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2010.2 release.

Changes from beta1 to beta2:

  • Updated translations.
  • Updated What's New.
  • Disable retrieval of table headers for Firefox 3.6.10, as the crash fix is not included in that release. See #807 for details.
  • NVDA now functions correctly on a system where the current working directory has been removed from the DLL search path (by setting the CWDIllegalInDllSearch registry entry to 0xFFFFFFFF). Note that this is not relevant to most users. (#907)
  • Fixed the issue where say all would only read the first line of paragraphs with multiple lines in Lotus Symphony/OpenOffice.org documents. (#910)
  • When the table navigation commands are used outside of a table in Microsoft Word, "edge of table" is no longer spoken after "not in table". (#921)
  • When the table navigation commands cannot move due to being at the edge of a table in Microsoft Word, "edge of table" is now spoken in the configured NVDA language rather than always in English. (#921)
  • Support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.
  • The move mouse to current navigator object command now works correctly in virtual buffers.
  • When moving the main cursor in virtual buffers, the review cursor will always review the entire document as intended, rather than reviewing the focused object.
  • In Outlook Express, Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail, the state of the checkboxes in message rules lists is now reported. (#576)
  • The description of message rules can now be read in Windows Live Mail 2010.
  • NVDA will now once again function in Windows XP with no service pack. (#908)

Download links and change log:

NVDA Wins the 2010 New Inventors Les is More Award!

We're proud and honoured to announce that NVDA is the winner of the 2010 New Inventors "Les is More Award"! This award is presented "to an inventor whose invention might make a real difference to people's lives or the environment". We'd like to extend our sincerest thanks to The New Inventors. Thanks also to the many others who have made NVDA possible, including our volunteer developers and translators, organisations who have provided us with funding, the many individuals who have donated and, of course, our users.

NVDA is a Finalist for the New Inventors Les is More Award!

In March, NVDA featured on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) TV's New Inventors show. We're proud to announce that we're a finalist for the New Inventors "Les is More Award". The New Inventors describes this award as follows:

Each year, in honour of our late judge Les Miller, The New Inventors presents a special award to an inventor whose invention might make a real difference to people's lives or the environment.

To find out if we win, watch the New Inventors grand final this Thursday at 8:30 pm on ABC1!

NVDA 2010.2beta1 Released

NV Access is pleased to announce the release of NVDA 2010.2beta1. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2010.2 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2010.2 release.

Notable features of NVDA 2010.2 include greatly simplified object navigation; virtual buffers for Adobe Flash content; access to many previously inaccessible controls by retrieving text written to the screen; flat review of screen text; support for IBM Lotus Symphony documents; reporting of table row and column headers in Mozilla Firefox; and significantly improved user documentation.

Download links and change log:

Supporting Multi-Touch devices in NVDA, plus September fundathon update

Usually, donations go to supporting general development of NVDA and administration of NV Access. However, the September Fundathon recently started by one of our users gave us the idea of raising some specific funds to purchase a Multi-touch tablet PC, so that we could start developing support for these devices in NVDA.

As tablet PCs become more wide-spread, we believe that it is very important that NVDA can provide open, no-cost access to these devices for the blind or vision impaired user. We also believe that the introduction of multi-touch screens in to mainstream devices such as PCs offer a very exciting future for the blind and vision impaired as it will allow for new and innovative ways of accessing not only the Operating System and general tasks such as browsing the web, but also information such as maps and other graphical materials.

Apple has proven that multi-touch devices are well suited to the blind, with the inclusion of the VoiceOver screen reader on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Microsoft has built support for multi-touch screens in to the Windows 7 Operating System, so all that needs to happen now is for assistive technologies such as NVDA to make use of these available features, and bring multi-touch access to the blind and vision impaired Windows user.

Please consider making a donation to NV Access to help purchase a tablet PC, so that we can secure access to these devices for blind and vision impaired people in a free and open way. Our goal is to raise AU$3,500.

Finally, we wish to thank all who have donated so far in the September fundathon, with special thanks to the member of the NVDA community who started it. So far in September, we have received AU$295 in donations.

Thank you for supporting NV Access and the NVDA project.

Free Speech Synthesizers for NVDA

Although NVDA comes packaged with a free speech synthesizer called eSpeak, there are also a few other freely available speech synthesizers that can be downloaded from the internet, and used with NVDA.

Please visit the Free Speech Synthesizer list? article to find out more.

NVDA and ETI-Eloquence: The Situation Explained

We have received countless requests from users wanting to use the ETI-Eloquence or IBM ViaVoice TTS speech synthesisers with NVDA. Unfortunately, it is generally not legal to use either of these synthesisers with NVDA. This article explains the situation. Please read this article in full before posting any questions about either synthesiser. Discussion about illegal use of either synthesiser on the NVDA mailing lists will not be tolerated.

What are ETI-Eloquence and IBM ViaVoice TTS?

ETI-Eloquence is a small footprint, multi-lingual speech synthesiser which is extremely popular among blind and vision impaired people and is used in many popular desktop and mobile screen readers. IBM ViaVoice TTS is another product which incorporates the ETI-Eloquence speech synthesis technology .

Licensing

ETI-Eloquence is now owned by Nuance Communications. It is not (and has never been) a free product, even despite the fact that its development has been discontinued by Nuance. Similarly, IBM ViaVoice TTS is distributed by Wizzard Software and is also not a free product.

Both synthesisers are licensed to application developers for use in their applications. Unfortunately, unlike many synthesisers on the market, it is not currently possible to purchase individual licenses that aren't tied to specific products for either of these synthesisers.

Certain products, such as IBM Home Page Reader and GW Micro Window-Eyes before version 7, included a SAPI 4 version of ETI-Eloquence or IBM ViaVoice. This synthesiser could be used with NVDA via its SAPI 4 driver. However, even though there is no restriction on the actual software, it is highly likely that the license does not actually permit the synthesiser to be used with products other than the one with which it is bundled. The license certainly does not permit free redistribution of the synthesiser.

Confirmation of Licensing

In 2006, NVDA did include a driver for IBM ViaVoice (but not the synthesiser itself). We used the version of IBM ViaVoice bundled with IBM Home Page Reader. However, we were asked by IBM to remove this driver due to the above licensing issues.

Following is a translated letter from Byteway Srl, the Italian distributor of ETI-Eloquence, in response to suspected illegal use of ETI-Eloquence by NVDA users:

Sirs,
I have read in various mailing lists that the ETI Eloquence Synthesis, property of Nuance International BVBA, is used by some integrators without the regular License Agreement and thus without the right of using this technology for commercial or divulgation purposes.
Furthermore, I read that the ETI Eloquence is used by end users in combination with third parties applications for which no right of usage is granted by the producer.
At the present moment only two companies (in Italy), Cavazza 2000 and ITEX di Marco Gregnanin, are authorized to integrate ETI Eloquence.
As the legal representative of Byteway Srl, distributor of the above mentioned technologies, it is my right and duty to inform that, the persons that do an indiscriminate use of this vocal synthesis are breaking the laws against software piracy.
Thus, I kindly advise to all integrators and end-users to settle their position with respect to the right of using ETI Eloquence as soon as possible.
Byteway will be happy to provide further information, license agreements and prices.
Otherwise, as stated with Nuance's legal office, legal measures will be adopted to defend the interest of the producer and the distributor.
Highest Regards,
Donato Savino, CEO
d.savino@byteway.it
Byteway Srl
Imaging and Speech Technologies
Milano, Via Roncaglia 14 - ITALY
Tel. +39 02 3809 3651
Fax +39 02 3809 3656
www.byteway.it

Attempts by NV Access to Provide a Solution

NV Access, the organisation which develops and supports NVDA, recognises the importance of ETI-Eloquence to a large portion of its user base. As such, NV Access attempted to make it available for a small cost to NVDA users for use with NVDA.

First, we investigated the possibility of re-selling IBM ViaVoice TTS, as TTSynth has done for Linux. Unfortunately, after spending several hundred dollars on the SDK, we discovered that the Windows version of IBM ViaVoice TTS uses the registry to store its configuration, which makes it unsuitable for use with a portable screen reader such as NVDA. (ETI-Eloquence itself does not use the registry.)

Second, we investigated the possibility of re-selling ETI-Eloquence itself. Unfortunately, the lowest cost that Nuance would negotiate was $15AUD per license if we purchased 300 licenses. In order to cover our costs, compensate for the possibility that we might not sell 300 copies and provide some extra funding for NV Access, we would need to charge users a higher price, but this price from Nuance doesn't give us much to work with before the cost to users becomes unreasonable.

Update: Given the demand for this synthesiser, we attempted to negotiate a license with Nuance in 2011. Some clauses in the license agreement concerning distribution and copy protection were quite vague, and when we requested clarification, our contact at Nuance simply stopped responding to our queries, despite several requests over several months. Even despite this, we suspect Nuance would require us to implement extreme copy protection measures, which is an area in which we have no experience nor the time or resources to pursue.

Update: In 2013, we discovered a way to work around the technical issues concerning use of the registry in IBM ViaVoice TTS. Unfortunately, when we attempted to negotiate licenses, we were informed that Wizzard Software was discontinuing sale of the product. It cannot be purchased from any other party. We've contacted IBM several times to request other options, but have not received any useful responses.

Are There Any Legal Options?

As far as we are aware, the only legal option for using NVDA with ETI-Eloquence is to purchase PenVDA, which includes NVDA and a specifically licensed copy of ETI-Eloquence. Unfortunately, PenVDA is quite expensive (at least $120USD depending on where you purchase it). Please note that PenVDA is in no way affiliated with NV Access and its cost does not contribute to NVDA development.

NVDA 2010.1 Released

We are pleased to announce that NVDA 2010.1 has been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

NVDA 2010.1 focuses primarily on bug fixes and improvements to the user experience, including some significant stability fixes.

The only changes from 2010.1rc1 to 2010.1 are updates to some translations.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2010.1rc1 Released

NVDA 2010.1rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2010.1 release.

Note that there may be some minor updates to some translations (particularly of the what's new document) in the final release.

Changes from beta1 to rc1:

  • Updated translations.
  • Updated what's new.
  • Fixed various harmless but annoying exceptions.
  • In Miranda IM, automatic message reading is now also supported in the srmm plugin.
  • Fixed problems in file selection dialogs in Miranda IM. (#580)
  • Fixed some problems with logging of messages containing non-ASCII characters. This could cause spurious errors in some cases on non-English systems. (#581)
  • The information in the About NVDA dialog now appears in the user's configured language instead of always appearing in English. (#586)
  • Problems are no longer encountered when using the synthesiser settings ring after the voice is changed to one which has less settings than the previous voice.
  • In Skype 4.2, contact names are no longer spoken twice in the contact list.
  • Fixed some potentially major memory leaks in the GUI and in virtual buffers. (#590, #591)
  • Focusing Total Commander lists other than the main list of files now functions correctly.
  • Updated eSpeak to 1.43.03.
  • Work around a nasty bug in some SAPI 4 synthesisers that was causing frequent errors and crashes in NVDA. (#597)

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2010.1beta1 Released

We're pleased to announce that NVDA 2010.1beta1 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2010.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2010.1 release.

NVDA 2010.1 focuses primarily on bug fixes and improvements to the user experience, including some significant stability fixes.

Download links and change log:

NVDA on New Inventors in March!

NVDA will feature in ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) TV's New Inventors show on Wednesday 10 March. If you're in Australia, tune in to ABC1 at 8pm to watch Mick and me demonstrating and talking about NVDA!

the nvda-support email list is now here

Recently a new email list has been created specifically for support questions about NVDA. Please visit: The nvda-support page for further information. Users are wecome to ask any questions in relation to how to use NVDA, and other users or the project maintainers will be more than happy to answer. However before joining, please note the rules outlined on The nvda-support page. Look forward to seeing you there.

NVDA 2009.1 Released

We are extremely pleased to announce that NVDA 2009.1 has finally been released. This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for production use and is recommended for most users.

Major highlights of NVDA 2009.1 include support for 64 bit editions of Windows; greatly improved support for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader documents; support for Windows 7; reading of the Windows logon, control+alt+delete and User Account Control (UAC) screens; and the ability to interact with Adobe Flash and Sun Java content on web pages. There have also been several significant stability fixes and improvements to the general user experience.

Changes from 2009.1rc1 to 2009.1:

  • Minor documentation and translation updates.
  • NVDA no longer freezes in Save As dialogs on Windows XP and Vista systems with the Platform Update installed.
  • The title of the Windows Logon screen is now always read in Windows Vista and Windows 7.
  • Fixed a problem with the report date and time command (NVDA+f12). Previously, date reporting was truncated on some systems. (#471)
  • Fixed the issue where the system screen reader flag was sometimes inappropriately cleared after interacting with secure Windows screens. This could cause problems in applications which check the screen reader flag, including Skype, Adobe Reader and Jart. (#462)
  • In an Internet Explorer 6 combo box, the active item is now reported when it is changed. (#342)
  • Dynamic updates in Adobe Reader documents (e.g. changes to form fields) are now properly reflected by NVDA. (This used to work, but regressed a few months ago.)
  • NVDA now behaves correctly when an Adobe Reader document is scrolled by other means (e.g. pressing control+pageDown) before NVDA has itself scrolled the document in response to movement of the virtual cursor.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2009.1rc1 Released

NVDA 2009.1rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate, which means that unless any critical issues are found, this will be almost identical to the final 2009.1 release. The major change since the beta which should be tested is that installed copies can now fully access applications running as administrator in Windows Vista and Windows 7. This is not possible for portable copies.

Note that there may be some minor updates to some translations (particularly of the what's new document) in the final release.

Changes from beta1 to rc1:

  • Updates to translations.
  • Fixes to documentation.
  • Fixed an issue which caused embedded objects not to be rendered in Mozilla Firefox 3.7 nightly builds.
  • Fixed issues when pressing upArrow or downArrow in the password field of the Windows XP logon screen.
  • Fixed an issue where NVDA would fail when navigating certain documents in Adobe Reader.
  • The report text selection command (NVDA+shift+upArrow) now gracefully reports that there is no selection in objects which do not support text selection.
  • The Save As dialog in the NVDA Log Viewer no longer causes NVDA to freeze in Windows 7. (#439)
  • Fixed broken reporting of text under the mouse in many editable text controls and Windows command consoles.
  • Fixed the issue where pressing the enter key on certain Miranda-IM buttons or links was causing NVDA to freeze. (#440)
  • The current line or selection is now properly respected when spelling or copying the current navigator object.
  • Fixed the issue where NVDA was sometimes not terminated properly on secure desktops when fast desktop switches occurred. This could cause the Windows control+alt+delete screen to fail to appear or multiple copies of NVDA to run at once on the Windows logon and shutdown screens. (This was fixed previously, but regressed a few days before beta1 was released.)
  • Worked around a Windows bug which was causing garbage to be spoken after the name of link controls in Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer dialogs. (#451)
  • NVDA can now fully access applications running as administrator in Windows Vista and later. You must install an official release of NVDA for this to work. This does not work for portable versions and snapshots. (#397)
  • The NVDA error sound is no longer played in release candidates and final releases. Note that errors are still logged.

Changes in the build process for official releases:

  • Python optimisations are enabled.
  • All main executables are signed with the NV Access code signing certificate.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 2009.1beta1 Released

We're pleased to announce that NVDA 2009.1beta1 has just been released. It is intended for those who are interested in testing and evaluating the upcoming NVDA 2009.1 release, but is not recommended for production use. Testers are encouraged to report any bugs found while using this beta.

Note that some translations may not yet be updated. They will be updated by the time of the final 2009.1 release.

Major highlights of NVDA 2009.1 include support for 64 bit editions of Windows; greatly improved support for Microsoft Internet Explorer and Adobe Reader documents; support for Windows 7; reading of the Windows logon, control+alt+delete and User Account Control (UAC) screens; and the ability to interact with Adobe Flash and Sun Java content on web pages. There have also been several significant stability fixes and improvements to the general user experience.

Download links and change log:

Adobe Provides Grant for PDF and Flash Support in NVDA

We are pleased and grateful to announce that Adobe have provided a grant to NV Access to support NVDA development. This grant will enable us to improve support for Adobe Reader and add support for Adobe flash embedded in browsers. This is great news for NVDA users given the increasing regularity of PDF documents and Flash content. This will also help users access content and applications developed with Adobe Flex and interactive forms developed with Adobe LiveCycle.

We've already done much of the work to improve support for Adobe Reader. You can try it out for yourself in NVDA development snapshots.

New Grant from the Mozilla Foundation furthers NVDA

We would like to thank the Mozilla Foundation for providing NV Access with another grant allowing NVDA to continue and grow. Initially this grant will allow development of much more proper and complete support for ARIA live regions in NVDA. Specifically this work will firstly consist of redesigning NVDA's in-process code, making it less specific to virtual buffers and more generalized so that it will be much easier to add code for such things as live regions. I have started this work already. Secondly support for live regions will be designed within the new in-process framework so that NVDA will be able to appropriately announce changes in live regions found in web documents and applications. Examples of live regions are the message history of a chat application, a value on a score board, or even perhaps subtitles, audio description text, or captions on a video streamed over the web.

Yahoo! Supports the NVDA Project

We're pleased to announce a formal partnership with Yahoo! to support the NVDA project. Their first funding contribution will enable us to implement enhanced table navigation and reporting in virtual buffers, ARIA land marks, ARIA drag and drop and other ARIA improvements in NVDA over the next couple of months. This will greatly improve the experience on the web for NVDA users for both web pages and advanced web applications. We'd like to thank Yahoo! for their support and hope to continue this partnership into the future.

A Vision Australia Making a Difference Award goes to NV Access

NV Access is pleased to have received a 2009 Making a Difference award presented by Vision Australia for its work on NVDA. You can read more about this on NV Access's blog post.

NVDA on Windows Logon, UAC and Other Secure Screens

Several months ago, we started work to allow NVDA to read secure Windows screens such as the Windows logon screen, User Account Control (UAC) screens, the Windows lock screen and the control+alt+delete screen. This work stalled for several months, but due to increasing requests from users (as well as our own frustration), I finally revitalised the effort a couple of weeks ago. I am happy to announce that this work has now been merged into the main NVDA development branch, which means that it is now available for testing by users in daily snapshots. There are doubtless some issues still to be fixed, but this should now be quite useable. This code also added an option to the General Settings dialog which allows you to configure the system to automatically start NVDA after logging on to Windows. In addition, there is an option to configure whether NVDA will be used on the Windows logon screen. Disabling this will still allow other Windows secure screens to be read while NVDA is running.

Some additional info for those that care: The standard way to configure assistive technology products to access secure Windows screens on Windows Vista and later is to use the Ease of Access framework. However, using a service (which is the approach used for Windows XP) appears to work quite well on Windows Vista and later as well. Therefore, rather than implementing support for Ease of Access in NVDA, we just use the service for all supported versions of Windows for now. (The documentation for Ease of Access is also incorrect in some areas, which stops us from implementing useable support right now.) We may consider implementing support for Ease of Access later if we discover a significant reason to do this.

NVDA in New Zealand Public Libraries

NVDA is now available on public access computers in public libraries right across New Zealand!

Last year, after discovering that NVDA was being blocked from running from a USB drive on public access computers at his local library in Stratford, Gene Gibson contacted The Aotearoa People's Network, who provide and manage public internet access for public libraries across the country, to request that NVDA be allowed to run. They happily obliged, first for the Stratford district library and later for all libraries served by the APN. In addition, the APN are currently rolling out a software upgrade to all of their computers which includes the latest version of NVDA. Gene has also been instrumental in getting free magnification software installed on APN computers. This is fantastic news for blind and vision impaired New Zealanders! See our Recognition? page for press articles and other links.

We'd like to extend our thanks to Gene for his great advocacy and support of the NVDA project.

CSUN 2009 NVDA Presentation Slides now Available

I'm still working on my CSUN 2009 report as I find the time. It's coming. Really. :) In the meantime, I've posted the slides for our NVDA presentation. We used S5 for these slides. If you want to see all of the slides in a handout format, press the letter t. (NVDA users will need to pass this key through to the browser by first pressing NVDA+f2.)

NVDA 0.6p3.2 Released

This release includes an updated Polish translation which was meant to be included in 0.6p3 but missed out by a few days. It also includes a fix for an issue where some documents would not load at all in Adobe Reader. However, note that support for Adobe Reader in this release is still very rudimentary at best.

Download links and change log:

NV Access at CSUN 2009

As noted previously, we will be attending CSUN 2009, which is now less than two weeks away. We are presenting on NVDA and will also feature in two other presentations. We've posted our plans for the conference, including details of these presentations and our schedule. IF you're interested in meeting, drop us an email.

NVDA 0.6p3 with Mozilla Products

NVDA 0.6p3.1 Released

This release provides a quick fix for those who could not start NVDA after installing NVDA 0.6p3 with the installer. In these rare cases, the NVDA start sound would be played, but NVDA would immediately exit with a critical error. If you did not experience this problem, you probably don't need to update. There is also another minor fix for those running NVDA using an 8.3 file path, which will again not affect most users.

Download links and change log:

NVDA 0.6p3 Released!

NVDA 0.6p3 has just been released. Unfortunately, it is almost two months later than the original release estimate, as we encountered some major problems which we felt needed to be fixed before the release. We also took the opportunity to update the user guide and provide several minor fixes.

Highlights of this release include:

  • Support for braille displays! NVDA can now display both contracted and uncontracted braille on supported braille displays, and includes support for displaying the cursor and cursor routing.
  • Many users found the term "virtual buffer pass through" confusing. Therefore, instead of virtual buffer pass through on and off, NVDA now reports focus mode (pass through on) and browse mode (pass through off).
  • In virtual buffers, when the focus changes or the caret is moved, NVDA can automatically switch to focus mode or browse mode as appropriate for the control under the caret. For example, if a page automatically moves to an interactive control or a user tabs to or clicks an interactive control with the mouse, focus mode can automatically be enabled. This is configured from the Virtual Buffers dialog.
  • Rewritten SAPI4 synthesizer driver which replaces the sapi4serotek and sapi4activeVoice drivers and should fix the problems encountered with these drivers.
  • The configuration file and speech dictionaries are now saved in the user's application data directory if NVDA was installed using the installer. This is necessary for Windows Vista and also allows multiple users to have individual NVDA configurations.
  • NVDA can now read text past 65535 characters in standard edit controls (e.g. a large file in Notepad).
  • NVDA no longer sometimes freezes completely when editing text in OpenOffice.

Please read What's New in NVDA 0.6p3 for a more detailed list of changes.

Please note that this is a preview release, meaning that there are still some issues to be fixed before the next stable release. For more information about the current status of releases, see [ReleaseStatus this article]. Nevertheless, this release is recommended for most users. The old stable release, 0.5, is no longer recommended.

Download links and change log:

Web Site Problems Now (Hopefully) Resolved

Some of you might have noticed that recently, the NVDA and NV Access web sites have been hideously slow and unreliable at certain peak times. Pages often took a very long time to load, and sometimes even failed to load at all, simply throwing up a nasty error. Our server was struggling (and failing) to cope with the traffic it was receiving. While this is exciting in one sense (we're obviously getting quite a lot of hits!), it was obviously a rather large problem. Therefore, I've spent quite a few hours optimising it and made some rather substantial changes to its configuration. It took me quite a few tries to get everything working correctly, so the site has been in various states of functionality over the last day or so. Everything should be working now and the server does seem to be running much better than it was before. Please let me know if there are any further problems. Our apologies for the downtime.

Mozilla Grant Progress Report

It is drawing towards the end of the year for which the Mozilla Foundation provided a grant to NV Access to employ me to work full time on NVDA. This post examines the grant goals and summarises our progress for each goal. It is important to note that the original grant goals were written for a three year period, whereas this grant was for one year.

1. NVDA Core Development

  • General core improvements: This includes speed improvements, memory usage optimisation, fixing memory leaks and improvements to user experience.

We have made many considerable improvements to the performance, stability, accuracy and reliability of NVDA throughout the year. We constantly strive to ensure that the NVDA code is efficient, optimal and reliable. The user interface has also evolved to better serve its users.

  • Debugging and testing: Improvements to the debugging facilities in NVDA will assist in finding and fixing problems. In addition, an automated testing system needs to be developed to allow for faster discovery of problems and to prevent unnoticed regressions in functionality.

NVDA's logging code was refactored to be more flexible and simpler for developers to use. The log viewer was introduced to facilitate quick viewing of the log file for the running copy of NVDA. The Python console?, which provides an interactive Python interpreter inside NVDA, has vastly simplified and expanded the possibilities of debugging, research and testing. Unfortunately, an automated testing system has not yet been developed.

  • IAccessible 2 support: IAccessible 2 is an emerging accessibility API that has the potential to vastly improve the accessibility of many applications and is thus very important for NVDA's success. It is already used by a growing amount of important applications, including such applications as Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird and Chatzilla which use Mozilla Gecko / XUL.

Since early 2007, NVDA has had comprehensive support for IAccessible2 and uses it wherever it has been implemented in applications. Particularly worthy of note is NVDA's use of IAccessible2 in Mozilla applications, where the rich accessibility provided by IAccessible2 is especially benefitial. In 2008, as well as general enhancements to this support, we implemented support for text attributes, which enables NVDA to read formatting information, spelling errors, etc.

2. Braille Output Support

NVDA should support dynamic output of both contracted and uncontracted braille on various popular refreshable braille displays.

Braille display support has now been implemented, including support for cursor routing. Users have been extremely impressed by the speed and responsiveness of this implementation. Some noteable features are still missing and some polish is required, but this initial implementation is very useable already. NVDA attracted the attention of the braille display manufacturer Handy Tech, who participated in the initial design and prototyping of NVDA's braille support and provided a driver for their displays.

3. NVDA Customisation for Applications and Web Pages

There was little significant change to NVDA's support for application specific scripting. The code documentation and design were improved slightly. However, there has been no request or need for enhancements or changes to this functionality, although there is definitely room for improvement concerning documentation for new developers. NVDA has no functionality to facilitate customisation for specific web sites. Again, there has been no request or need for this in NVDA from our users so far. The WebVisum Firefox extension has facilitated some page customisation. WebVisum is independent of the screen reader used and its page modifications are automatically shared by its user community. Due to its popularity with NVDA users, we made some changes to NVDA to better support WebVisum.

4. Static Web Support

I will address only Mozilla Gecko 1.9 (used in Firefox/Thunderbird 3.x) here, as this is what concerns Mozilla. It is worth noting that NVDA's early support of Gecko 1.9 meant that it was able to work with Firefox 3.0 out of the box as soon as it was released.

  • Fast, efficient access to basic html content in a flat representation

NVDA renders most pages presented with Mozilla Gecko such that no additional delay is perceived by the user. Some highly complex pages involving many nodes may incur a noticeable delay, but these tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Pages are rendered into a flat representation which can be read and navigated like a normal text document. Once rendered, navigating the page is instantaneous. The first official release to include this functionality was 0.6p1 in March 2008.

  • Support for dynamic updates to a page resultant to JavaScript events

Dynamic updates are automatically reflected in the flat representation of the page (the virtual buffer).

  • Synchronicity between the flat representation and the actual controls to provide access to forms, and to facilitate navigation of a page using a hierarchical structure

This synchronisation has now been achieved. Users can choose to interact with a control from within the flat representation, and the cursor position within the flat representation will be updated appropriately when a control receives focus. In addition, object navigation can be used to hierarchically navigate a page, with the review cursor moving to the appropriate position in the flat representation.

5. Research and Development of New Accessibility Concepts

These concepts included:

  • Accessible drag and drop
  • Custom accessible widgets
  • Mathematics accessibility
  • Diagram accessibility

Accessible drag and drop is already possible through the use of ARIA drag and drop. This has not yet been implemented in NVDA. (See below for more details.) There is not yet a complete specification or application implementation for the remaining three items. We have been participants in working groups concerning the development of these specifications and plan to participate to a larger extent in future work.

6. Web Application Support

  • ARIA widgets

NVDA now has very useable support for ARIA widgets, although some polish is required in certain areas. In strong commendation of this support, NVDA has featured in several presentations by Yahoo developers about ARIA widgets; see this blog post for one example.

  • Rich text editing in rich internet applications

NVDA does have some support for this. However, it is buggy and incomplete. Improving this to a satisfactory level will be quite a large, difficult undertaking.

  • Live regions

NVDA has very limited, unsatisfactory support for live regions at present. Implementing better support is quite difficult under Windows. (Technically, this is due to the need to go in-process for efficient handling of events.)

  • ARIA drag and drop

This is not currently supported, although we have investigated this and have some idea of how it will be implemented.

  • HTML 5

This requires more work in web browsers before it can be considered in NVDA.

7. XUL Application Support

As already mentioned, NVDA has comprehensive support for IAccessible2 and the Gecko 1.9 rendering engine, which means that accessible widgets in recent XUL applications should be accessible.

  • Thunderbird

NVDA has excellent support for Mozilla Thunderbird 3. Many users, including us, use Thunderbird as our email client of choice.

  • Komodo

This is untested.

  • Songbird

This is untested. We have reason to believe that more work may be required in Songbird to make it accessible.

  • Miro

This is untested.

  • Popular Mozilla extensions; e.g. Adblock Plus

Popular Mozilla extensions are far too numerous to test and report upon here. Noteably, NVDA works very well with Adblock Plus and WebVisum.

8. Mozilla Accessibility Community Interaction

  • Filing bugs for Mozilla issues

At the time of this writing, we have filed 32 bugs related to Mozilla accessibility. Additionally, many more have been communicated to the Mozilla accessibility team (primarily Aaron Leventhal and Marco Zehe) for filing by them.

  • General interaction with the Mozilla accessibility community

We regularly participate in discussions with both users and developers in the Mozilla accessibility community via its mailing list and IRC channel.

  • Involvement in and Contribution to the development of accessibility frameworks and standards

We have participated in and contributed to the development of the IAccessible2 accessibility API. We have also provided feedback on ARIA issues such as landmarks.

9. NVDA Community Development

The development of the resources described below has encouraged a strong, diverse community of both users and contributors supporting the NVDA project, which continues to grow steadily. The NVDA web site received a major overhaul in mid 2008. All of our web services were integrated into one site based on Trac, which allows for seemless referencing and interaction between services, greater community collaboration and ease of maintenance, among other benefits.

  • Development documentation

Some development articles are provided on the NVDA wiki. Much of NVDA's code includes documentation and comments, although there is still quite a bit of undocumented code. Further development articles are probably required to assist new developers who wish to contribute to NVDA.

  • Issue database

An issue database was established in 2007. People can report? and view issues in this database. Although the system was always used to some degree, we began to use it to a much greater extent in 2008 and strongly encouraged both users and other developers to use it as well. This has been quite successful and has greatly improved the management of the project, as well as increasing community contribution.

  • Community resources; e.g. mailing lists, wiki, blog, etc.
  • The Community? page provides information about mailing lists and the NVDA IRC channel, as well as links to other sites related to NVDA that have been created by the community.
  • The NVDA web site is largely based around a wiki. The Documentation? page provides links to categories of wiki articles relevant to users and developers.
  • The NVDA blog is regularly updated with news and progress updates.

10. Assisting Application Developers to Implement Accessibility

  • Promoting application accessibility

We constantly strive to promote application accessibility through our strong participation and presence in various accessibility communities, as well as our work with application developers such as Mozilla. We seek to improve accessibility in general by assisting in the development of new accessibility technologies such as IAccessible2. We encourage interest and open participation by regularly keeping the community up to date through our blog. We have filed or contributed to accessibility bug reports and enhancement requests for several products, and have made similar requests for other products via other means. Through the recent grant from Microsoft, we will provide a public case study of the emerging UI Automation API from the perspective of a screen reader and will implement support for UI Automation in NVDA, as well as testing and providing feedback on accessibility in Windows 7.

  • Documenting strategies, techniques and examples for implementing optimal accessibility

Although we have certainly participated in discussion about such documentation, we have not written any ourselves at this time.

  • Providing tools and consultation to assist application developers in implementing accessibility

NVDA itself serves as an invaluable tool which assists application developers in implementing accessibility. The blog post about Yahoo developers using NVDA cited above is just one example. Integrated tools such as the Python console? and the display synthesiser (which displays text that would normally be sent to a synthesiser in a window on the screen) have been very useful to application developers. We have provided advice to developers of software such as foobar2000 seeking to improve accessibility.

Conclusion

With regard to success criteria, the grant proposal stated:

The success of this grant will be determined by the progress of NVDA in general, with particular emphasis on the goals described above, especially those related to Mozilla software. As noted above, due to the new territory being explored, some of these goals may change. However, these goals should be mostly completed, allowing for deviations as appropriate.

Most of the important goals were achieved with great success. Two noteable exceptions are satisfactory support for live regions and rich text editing, both extremely complex undertakings. Some goals were unachievable due to the lack of complete specification or application implementation. In addition, it must again be emphasised that the original grant goals were written for a three year period, rather than the one year covered by this grant. The benefits that NVDA has had for the community are evident in the rapid growth in NVDA's popularity. NVDA 0.6p2 has been downloaded over 18000 times since its release in August 2008. NVDA has also received considerable Recognition?, including an article in the press, reviews, testimonials and an award. Given all of these factors, we believe that this grant has been very successful.

NVDA Presentation at CSUN 2009

The Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, hosted by California State University, Northridge (and thus usually known simply as the CSUN conference), is perhaps the world's largest conference on assistive technology. Thanks to the generocity and support of the Mozilla Foundation, Mick attended CSUN 2007 and both Mick and I attended CSUN 2008. We gained a great deal from these conferences, as they enabled us to meet and share information and ideas with prominent figures in the industry, as well as giving us a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about NVDA. For CSUN 2009, given the positive response from users and the industry as a whole, we decided to take a step forward and run our own presentation about NVDA. We are pleased to announce that our submission was accepted. We are very much looking forward to the conference and are keen to once again spread the word about open accessibility technology from the Mozilla booth. CSUN 2009 will be held from 16-21 March at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott & Renaissance Montura Hotels.

Following is the abstract for our presentation.


NVDA: A FREE, OPEN SOURCE SCREEN READER FOR MICROSOFT WINDOWS

Michael Curran
President/Software Developer
NV Access Inc.
Email: mick@nvaccess.org

James Teh
Vice President/Software Developer
NV Access Inc.
Email: jamie@nvaccess.org

NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free, open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows. Providing feedback via synthetic speech and braille, it enables blind and vision impaired users to access a computer running Microsoft Windows for no more cost than a sighted person. In the short time since its inception in mid 2006, NVDA has already developed into a viable alternative to commercial screen readers, outperforming them in some areas. It has rapidly gained popularity and is used by many blind and vision impaired people across the globe. As at November 2008, the current version had been downloaded over 10000 times since its release less than three months prior. In this session, the primary developers of NVDA will provide an introduction to NVDA, including a discussion of its history, features, philosophy, community drive, design and plans for the future. Demonstrations will be provided where appropriate. NVDA began its life in mid 2006 when Michael Curran, unhappy with the excessive cost of existing screen readers, endeavoured to write his own screen reader in the Python programming language. In the first part of this session, the history of the NVDA project will be outlined, right from its humble beginnings to the considerable success it enjoys today. This will include the introduction of the other primary developer, James Teh, to the project, the creation of NV Access as a non-profit supporting organisation for the NVDA project, and Michael's journey to CSUN 2007. Subsequently, the increasing support of the Mozilla Foundation will be covered, including the grants they provided to enhance support for Mozilla Firefox and to employ James full time. CSUN 2008's impact on the project will then be discussed, followed by the developments in the rest of the year. Perhaps the greatest appeal of NVDA is its zero cost, but this is certainly not a reflection of its quality or functionality. The session will focus on the many features of NVDA and the benefits they offer to its users. This includes its vast support for over twenty languages (all of which are included in the main distribution) and bundling with the free, open-source, multilingual speech synthesiser eSpeak. NVDA'S ability to run entirely from portable media such as USB flash drives will be covered, as well as the optional capability for installation with a talking installer. There will be a focus on NVDA's excellent support for Mozilla Firefox 3, including quick navigation keys, links list, support for the Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) standard and basic support for live regions, as well as support for Mozilla Thunderbird 3, accessible Java applications and Windows Command Prompt and console applications. Innovative features such as audible progress bar beeps and audible indication of the mouse position will be outlined. As well as describing these features, the session will detail how they have been applied by users in their daily lives and why a user might choose NVDA over its commercial equivalents. The guiding principle of both NV Access and the NVDA project is that accessibility should not be an extra cost for the user. The session will explain how NV Access fulfills this goal and the philosophy of NV Access and NVDA, including their commitment to openness and community. First, the benefits of open source software will be discussed, such as the ability to draw on a diverse, global pool of development expertise and the benefits of openly sharing knowledge for accessibility as a whole. These benefits are very much evident in the multitude of contributions already made to NVDA by the global community. Peter Vágner, the internationalisation coordinator for NVDA, will talk about his role in managing the translation and internationalisation effort, which has assisted in making NVDA's excellent multilingual capabilities a reality. There will also be discussion surrounding the NVDA developers' active participation in and support of the development of other open source software as well as open accessibility standards and technologies. Marco Zehe from the Mozilla Corporation will discuss the relationship between Mozilla and the NVDA project, which has had substantial benefits for both parties. Also, importantly, the growth of NVDA's own community will be discussed, including the development of community resources such as the NVDA web site, email lists, blog entries, an internet relay chat channel and an issue tracking system for users to report and discuss bugs and feature requests. Finally, NVDA's potential for innovation and experimentation will be covered.

NVDA's success as a product is in no small way due to the care with which it has been designed and implemented. The developers will briefly describe the principles underlying NVDA's design and implementation. This includes the use of the Python programming language to enable simple, rapid development, the extensible, modular, abstract design, and the focus on accuracy and efficiency.

The final part of this session will outline possible plans for the future for both NV Access and the NVDA project. Topics discussed will include the enhancement of support for Internet Explorer, support for UI Automation, the ability to read display information and improved support for office suites.

Microsoft provides grant to improve NVDA

Microsoft has recently decided to support NV Access and the NVDA screen reader project by providing funding and support that will allow NV Access to improve NVDA in two key areas:

  • Allowing NVDA to support Microsoft's UI Automation API in Windows 7 (the next Microsoft Windows Operating System); and
  • Improving NVDA's support for Microsoft Internet Explorer and other related applications.

Please visit the NV Access site for a more detailed blog post.

NVDA 0.6p2 Passes 10000 Downloads!

There have now been over 10000 downloads of NVDA 0.6p2 since its release on 7 August, less than three months ago. At the time of this writing, there have been 10459 downloads. Thank you to all of you for your support. NVDA certainly wouldn't be what it is without the fantastic community that surrounds it.

NVDA 0.6p2 released!

NVDA 0.6p2 has just been released. The release is almost two weeks later than the original estimate proposed at the recent hack fest, as we decided to implement some additional noteworthy features, user interface changes, bug fixes and documentation updates.

Please note that this is a preview release, meaning that there are still some major issues to be fixed before the final 0.6 release. For more information about the current status of releases, see [ReleaseStatus this article]. Nevertheless, this release is recommended for most users. The old stable release, 0.5, is no longer recommended.

Download links and change log:

NVDA Featured in Yahoo UI Blog Post About Tab View Accessibility

NVDA features prominently in this post (and accompanying video) on the Yahoo UI blog: Enhancing TabView Accessibility with WAI-ARIA Roles and States

This highlights one of the great benefits and potential uses of NVDA. The fact that NVDA is free and open source software allows developers to test the accessibility of their web sites and/or applications with a fully functional screen reader without having to purchase an expensive product they would not otherwise use.

Aside from the great plug for NVDA (thanks!), this is an excellent, well documented use of WAI-ARIA to improve web accessibility.

New NVDA Web Site Launched

I am happy to announce that we have just launched the new NVDA web site on which we have been working for the past couple of weeks. This new site is based entirely on Trac and integrates all of our web services, including general information pages, downloads, wiki, issue tracker and blog. This allows for seemless referencing and interaction between services, greater community collaboration and ease of maintenance, among other benefits.

Note that www.nvda-project.org is the preferred address for this new site. trac.nvda-project.org redirects to this address.

Feedback is very much welcome.

nvaccess.org and nvda-project.org Moved to New Server

As many of you can probably attest, services on nvda-project.org, including the web site and Trac, have been extremely unreliable over the past few months. There has been frequent downtime, sometimes lasting for hours at a time, and even when services were functional, they were often extremely slow. Thus, a few weeks ago, we decided that it was time to move to a new server. Rather than moving to another service hosting package, we opted for our own virtual server. While this increases the technical administration tedium that Mick and I must endure, it also allows for much greater flexibility.

Despite the rather shaky transition, all services for nvaccess.org and nvda-project.org have now been moved to the new server. There certainly does appear to be a definite improvement in speed and reliability and we're hoping it will continue thus.

CSUN 2008

As I begin writing this, I'm sitting on a plane enduring the 13 hour flight back to Sydney from Los Angeles. As many of you know, the week prior to CSUN was insanely busy, as Mick and I hurried to make the 0.6p1 release in time for the conference. (In fact, we ended up deferring the release until soon after we arrived in the U.S.) CSUN was similarly busy, which, alongside far too little sleep, has left us exhausted. Despite a consequent need for some serious R&R, CSUN 2008 was an absolutely fantastic experience, both for NVDA and for Mick and I personally.

We arrived in L.A. late on Monday morning and were settled into our hotel room by around lunch time. No one else we knew was to arrive before Tuesday afternoon, so we spent the first two days working on some final touches for 0.6p1, which was released some time on Tuesday afternoon. (Unfortunately, we also had to endure a dodgy internet connection during this work, which persisted in its dodginess throughout the week. Arrrg!) We also burnt around 30 CDs containing NVDA, Firefox 3beta4 and information about both for distribution to potential new users whom we encountered during the conference.

10 a.m. on Wednesday morning saw us at the IAccessible2 face to face meeting. This ended up exceeding its 1 hour time slot by almost another hour! Discussion was quite broad, covering IAccessible2 itself but also extending beyond into many other topics relating to open accessibility standards. Nevertheless, i think the meeting was very successful. We were told that IAccessible2 support for OpenOffice.org would hopefully ship in a 3.x release some time within the next year, which is very exciting. There was a great deal of discussion in terms of the future of IAccessible2, especially relating to the establishment of guidelines beyond the specification for application implementations. Currently, there are widely varying ideas on how IAccessible2 should be implemented, with applications such as Lotus Symphony taking a rather flat approach as compared with Mozilla Gecko's extremely hierarchical approach. Mick and I believe that there need to be guidelines for the ways in which IAccessible2 should be implemented in various applications to prevent this getting out of hand. This idea was met with overall approval and a great deal of discussion ensued as to how this might be achieved. Other issues included problems with the use of IAccessible2 for portable applications and assistive technologies, feedback regarding Accessibility Probe, problems with the dependence of IAccessible 2 on MSAA and potential minor changes to the specification. Aside from the useful outcomes, it was great for me to meet the team behind this excellent accessibility API face to face.

On Wednesday evening, we had a dinner meeting with the NVDA Japanese localisation team. Our meeting spanned several hours, although it was interrupted several times by the need to adjourn to different locations. We discussed the status of the NVDA Japanese localisation and a demonstration was given with a commercial Japanese speech engine. We then covered a couple of localisation problems. The first concerned certain Japanese punctuation marks which aren't handled by the synthesiser used. While we handle expansion of English punctuation marks, there is no provision for doing this for other language specific symbols. Second, we discussed Windows input method editors (IME), which are necessary for entry of characters in pictographic languages such as Japanese. NVDA currently has no support for this. We would certainly like NVDA to support this, so Mick and I asked many general questions about how this works. We then spoke about the possibility of open source Japanese speech synthesisers. Mick and I suggested that efforts be made to improve the current eSpeak Japanese language so that an additional synthesiser would not be needed for Japanese NVDA users. Finally, the team explained the current state of screen readers in Japan. There are no good free alternatives and Japanese commercial screen readers are quite expensive, which is why they believe NVDA is important for Japan. It was a very pleasant meeting and it was great to receive some face to face feedback from a localisation team.

Thursday was the first day on which the exhibit hall was open. We spent much of our time for the remainder of the conference assisting at the Mozilla booth in the exhibit hall, preaching the goodness of Firefox 3 accessibility and, where appropriate, NVDA. We had very few opportunities to actually demonstrate NVDA. On the other hand, we spoke to many people from widely varying groups and levels of experience and gave away most of our CDs. It was humbling and gratifying to have quite a number of people, both users and otherwise, visit just to tell us that they appreciate the work we're doing. A highlight for us was a visit from a group of vision impaired primary school students accompanied by a teacher. She did not know about NVDA and was very pleased when we told her of the project. She told us that it would be great for some of her students whose families probably could not afford to purchase any of the commercial screen readers and took several of our CDS for her students, even coming back to take more for others. This is a fantastic validation of the mission of NV Access and NVDA: to lower the barrier to accessible computing. Furthermore, young students like these are not biased by prior use of another product, so in some ways, they are perhaps most likely to make the most of NVDA.

In terms of Mozilla, many people, existing users and otherwise, were impressed by the new accessibility features in Firefox 3. Being primarily concerned with accessibility for screen reader users, I must confess to having paid little attention to accessibility features for other users. There was a great deal of interest in the new full page zoom feature for low vision users. As well, the rich accessibility API support offered by Firefox 3 has potential benefits for users of voice dictation software. Again, many people visited just to say that they appreciated the work of Mozilla. There was also a great deal of interest in the merchandise up for grabs, which included an abundance of stickers, badges, temporary tattoos and brochures. Almost all of this had been taken by the end of the conference.

Thursday night was spent at a dinner with all of the people assisting at the Mozilla booth. (Well, actually, we first had to endure a rather frustrating, crazy cab ride, but I digress.) Most were either fellow grantees or people otherwise involved with Mozilla who were volunteering. Frank Hecker, the CEO of the Mozilla Foundation, was also present. It was great to spend an evening with such a fantastic, sincere group of people.

On Friday afternoon, we attended the IAccessible2 development panel, a session open to the public in which "Lead software applications and assistive technology developers [got] together to share their experiences in supporting IAccessible2". Present were representatives from IBM, Dolphin, GW Micro, Sun Microsystems, Freedom Scientific, Ai Squared, Adobe Systems and NV Access, with Mick speaking for NV Access. Each spoke a little about their current implementation of or plans to implement IAccessible2 support, some also speaking of their involvement in its design. Mick spoke of the IAccessible2 support in NVDA and why we believe it to be important for accessibility. He mentioned the current shortcomings in NVDA's support, including the lack of support for tables (which, by the way, is something we want to rectify very soon). Most of the assistive technology developers have also implemented at least partial support for IAccessible2, although some currently use it only for certain applications. We learnt that Adobe are starting to implement support, which is great news for us. In the discussion of problems and future plans, Mick raised the issue of the current inability to run IAccessible2 applications and assistive technologies portably due to the need to register a proxy library. A potential solution was proposed, which we have since investigated and found to be quite promising.

As is often the case at such conferences, even socialising after hours provided a fantastic opportunity for networking. One such occasion was a discussion with some of the core development team for Orca, the open source screen reader for the Gnome GUI under Linux and Solaris. One outcome of this discussion was that both teams agreed to try to collaborate wherever possible. We have always been open to such collaboration, but this was a great opportunity to become properly acquainted. On another occasion, we were introduced to the person at Microsoft responsible for accessibility of Internet Explorer 8.

One of the few conference sessions we attended was on Saturday afternoon. This was entitled "Low-Cost and Free Screen Access Solutions Versus Full-Feature Software" and was presented by the National Federation of the Blind. We had no idea whether NVDA would be covered or how it would fare if it was. Initially, we felt that perhaps the description of the free and low-cost solutions as not being "full-featured software" was a bit unfair, but I guess it is true that we still have a lot of work to do to match some of the more expensive products. Conversely, we were pleasantly surprised by the fair demonstration of NVDA. We waited with bated breath to find out which version of NVDA would be demonstrated and were relieved to discover that 0.6p1, the release we had prepared only days earlier, was featured. (NVDA has certainly come a long way since 0.5.) The other featured screen readers were Thunder and Serotek System Access. Overall, it was a worthwhile presentation and I hope it inspired some people to at least give solutions such as NVDA a try.

Over the duration of the conference, we met and conversed with several key accessibility people from large organisations such as IBM, Sun, Adobe and Microsoft. In addition, we spoke to several people who were interested in collaborating with us in some way or potentially distributing NVDA with their products. It was gratifying once again to realise the respect we have attained in the field of accessibility. We were astounded to learn of the amount of interest NVDA has attracted. Mick and I also took the opportunity on occasion to investigate some of the other exhibits.

Overall, CSUN 2008 was a very enjoyable, benefitial and worthwhile experience, both for NVDA and for us personally. I very much hope that both Mick and I are able to attend the conference again next year.

NVDA 0.6p1 Released!

We have just released NVDA 0.6p1. This is a preview release, meaning that there are still major issues to be fixed before the final 0.6 release. However, this provides a preview of some of the new functionality that can be expected in 0.6. This release will be featured at CSUN 2008. For more information about the current status of releases, see this article?.

Download links:

NV Access at CSUN 2008

Mick and I will be attending the Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference (better known as CSUN) commencing in approximately two weeks. Once again, this is thanks to the generosity of the Mozilla Foundation. This should be an exciting event for NVDA, as NVDA has progressed a great deal since last year's conference.

Perhaps the most exciting recent development is the new in-process virtual buffer back-end for Mozilla Gecko 1.9, which is used by Firefox 3 and Thunderbird 3. In practical terms, this means that rendering pages into a virtual buffer in these programs is now practically instantaneous and is far more accurate than the previous code. Although it is not quite yet as stable as we would like, it is almost ready for public testing. We're very keen to show this off at the conference! :) We are also working to address several other items in NVDA prior to CSUN.

Please see CSUN 2008 Plans for more information, including our "to do" list and a rough schedule. If any of you are interested in joining or collaborating with the NVDA project in some way and want to meet at CSUN, please drop Mick and I an email.

My full time work on NVDA commences…

I began working full time for NV Access on NVDA three weeks ago (on Monday, 4 February, to be precise). This was interrupted last week, as I had to work for another week with my previous employer, so I've now been working full time on NVDA for two weeks.

It has certainly been a busy but interesting two weeks. I am obviously quite familiar with the project, given that I have been a core developer almost since the beginning. However, working on a project full time is unsurprisingly somewhat different to casual contribution in one's spare time. Nevertheless, I am very much enjoying the work and am looking forward to realising exciting potential for NVDA as the year progresses.

Mick and I are currently focusing on preparing both ourselves and NVDA for the upcoming Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference, better known as CSUN. I will post more on this later. I have spent most of my time so far discussing all things NVDA with Mick, fixing small (but nevertheless annoying and problematic) bugs, and helping Mick to test the new virtual buffer code.

I would like to once again extend my personal thanks to the Mozilla Foundation for making this possible. I am extremely grateful for and excited about the opportunity to devote all of my working hours to further develop NVDA.

Mozilla Foundation grant allows for employment of NVDA full-time developer

Thanks to the generocity and support of the Mozilla Foundation NV Access has been able to hire James Teh as a full-time developer to work on NVDA. The Mozilla Foundation has taken a keen interest in NVDA as one of NVDA's goals is to provide excellent support for Mozilla products, such as Firefox and Thunderbird.

The grant (which provides NV Access with US$80,000 over 2008) allows NV Access to employ James Teh (Jamie) full-time to work on improving and maintaining NVDA, with a major focus on Mozilla products. The grant will be also used to cover overheads for the running of NV Access, which a part from general administration, also includes project promotion and the seeking of further funding.

NV Access and Mozilla worked together to draw up a list of grant goals for NVDA, which both organizations see as the most important things that should be achieved to make the project a success. Although the grant will be reviewed before the end of this year, all the goals listed are to be completed with in a three year timeline.

Jamie will hopefully be starting work in the next month or so, once all the admin has been organized. I for one am very excited to have Jamie join the project on a much more full-time basis, and I know he is also very excited to be able to put all his working time to open-source projects that hopefully can improve the lives of people in the community in some way.

On behalf of NV Access, and the other developers of NVDA I would like to thank the Mozilla Foundation for its support over the last year. Together we can make sure that blind users will always have both a free choice when it comes to access to applications on the Microsoft Windows Operating System, and also a choice to move forward with the rest of the community, to use free and open-source products (such as Firefox and Thunderbird).

NVDA at BCA Technology Expo and NVDA Summit

Last weekend, I flew to Melbourne, Australia (I live in Brisbane) for two exciting events related to NVDA.

On Friday, Mick, Amy, Matt and I attended the Blind Citizens Australia Technology Expo held prior to the BCA national convention, where we staffed a booth for NV Access. Mick and I were providing one on one demonstrations of NVDA under both Windows XP and Vista. We were a bit concerned about the lack of interest for the first hour and a half or so, but after that, things started to heat up. People from widely varying backgrounds and degrees of computing experience visited the booth. We made between six and eight demonstrations (I can't remember the exact number), some of which were quite detailed. Between 15 and 20 people provided us with contact details, requesting further information. We also spoke to several people who were interested in passing the word about NVDA to larger numbers of people through various channels. Everyone was quite impressed by the project and most were somewhat astonished by its $0 price tag. :) Overall, it was a valuable, worthwhile experience. The interest we attracted was somewhat heartening. I think Mick and I learnt a lot about presenting the project to prospective users and other interested parties. We had also underestimated the potential for networking with people who can help further spread the word.

All of Saturday and Sunday morning was devoted to what we are calling an "NVDA Summit" or hack fest. Mick and I sat in his lounge room discussing, coding, living and breathing NVDA... as well as eating Amy's yummy, home-made cookies, among other delicious morsels. (Thanks Amy!) We covered quite a lot of ground, answering all but one of the items on our agenda. The agenda and outcomes are outlined here. Aside from this agenda and discussion of the direction of NVDA in general, the time allowed us to revitalise our working relationship and zeal for the project. It also enabled me to familiarise myself with complex parts of the code which I haven't had a chance to examine in detail due to being somewhat busy with other things of late.

The benefits of this "summit" are already being realised. This week, we have made major leaps forward with regard to the way we read dialogs. Rather than reading the entire dialog or only the dialog title and the current control, we attempt to read the descriptive text or query and then the focused control. This makes for a much nicer user experience when using most dialogs. Also, we have found and squashed a major memory leak which has been plaguing us for a while now. We have improved the speed and accuracy of cursor keys and backspace and delete, although backspace and delete still need some work.

These two events were made possible by many generous donations to NV Access. Many thanks to everyone who has donated.