Free, open-source screen reader is the focus of a new online tutorial series by the American Foundation for the Blind

Date Posted: 08/01/2016

NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), the free, open-source, portable screen reader for Microsoft Windows created by Michael Curran, director of the Australian company NV Access, is the focus of a new educational series, Learn NVDA, created by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). The eight-part series of free, online video tutorials are designed to help people who are blind or have low vision learn how to use the computer with a screen reader or improve their computer skills. The Learn NVDA tutorials are designed to allow people with visual impairments who have never used NVDA before to independently install the program and learn how to use it. The series covers how to: install NVDA on a computer; navigate Microsoft Windows with NVDA; use NVDA "hotkeys" (that is, keystroke shortcuts); install and use the Firefox Internet browser; and access and interact with documents in Microsoft Word (word processing software) and Excel (spreadsheet software) formats by using NVDA. Each tutorial video includes step-by step instructions that feature the audio of a presenter using NVDA and a video of the presenter's computer screen. The entire Learn NVDA series can be accessed free online at: www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/using-technology/assistive-technology-videos/learn-nvda/1234.

According to its developers, NVDA "has been downloaded 70,000+ times, in 43 languages." NVDA is designed to operate with 32- and 64-bit editions of Microsoft Windows XP or later, it has no additional hardware requirements beyond those of the operating system, and it requires around 50 megabytes (MB) of disk space. The screen reader is bundled with eSpeak, a free, multilingual speech synthesizer. In addition, NVDA is designed to use both SAPI 4 and SAPI 5 speech engines. The Learn NVDA tutorials were made possible with support from the Arlington, Virginia–based Consumer Technology Association Foundation. For more information, contact: William Reuschel, technical solutions manager, AFB Tech, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Suite 350, Huntington, WV 25701; e-mail: wreuschel@afb.org; website: www.afb.org.

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