While the accessibility of voting locations still leaves a lot to be desired (an estimated 60% of polling places have impediments for people in wheelchairs according to a 2017 government study), sometimes problems persist even when the buildings and the voting mechanisms themselves are accessible. Lack of training for the people manning the polling places means even the technology for text magnification, height adjustments, or audio features exists, the people who need these features are unable to take advantage of it. The director of Paraquad, a disability services and support organization in St Louis notes that “There is a lot of hesitation and sometimes confusion from poll workers on what they can do.” Other polling stations are using assistive technology that’s over 20 years old. Privacy concerns arise when voters are unable to enter a building and must cast their vote outside - often by telling the pollsters who they’d like to vote for. While there have been definite upgrades inaccessible voting practices in the decades since the ADA was passed, there is still room for much improvement.
The May updates deliver a broad range of enhancements for using ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 with popular applications, including Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Microsoft Office (2013 and 2016), web browsers (Chrome, Firefox and IE11), iTunes, and more. Stability, performance and ZoomText/Fusion features have also been enhanced for greater usability and productivity.
These free updates can be downloaded and installed over top of previous ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 installations. You can also use the auto update feature which will alert you to the update on the next restart of ZoomText or Fusion.
To update ZoomText 2018
To download the full installer for the ZoomText 2018 May Update:
- Go to the ZoomText Downloads webpage.
- In the section titled “ZoomText 2018” and choose the “All Languages” download link.
- When the download is complete, launch the installer to perform the installation.
You can also use the ZoomText update wizard to get the ZoomText 2018 May Update. On the ZoomText 2018 toolbar, choose ZoomText > Manage License > Check for Updates. This will launch the update wizard and walk you through the ZoomText update process.
To learn about the changes in the ZoomText 2018 May Update, see the ZoomText 2018 release notes.
To update Fusion 2018
To download the full installer for the Fusion 2018 May Update:
- Go to the ZoomText Downloads webpage.
- In the section titled “Fusion 2018” and choose the download link for the language that you need.
- When the download is complete, launch the installer to perform the installation.
We hope you are enjoying your ZoomText 2018 or Fusion 2018 product and would love to hear your thoughts on how we can make it better. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ZoomText has been updated from ZT 11 to ZT 2018 (This is using the new versioning number). The update includes ZoomText and ZoomText Magnifier/Reader.
Also, Fusion 2018 has been released and is now essentially running ZT and JAWS at the same time. Getting Fusion now means you get ZT, ZT M/R, Fusion, and JAWS.
Here are the release notes for both Fusion and ZoomText:
ZoomText and Fusion Release Notes
- ZoomText 11 and Fusion 11 Release Notes
- ZoomText 10.1 Release Notes
- ZoomText 10.0 Release Notes
- ZoomText 9.0-9.19 Release Notes
ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 Release Notes
This document contains the latest information on ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018 (at the time of release). This document is divided into the following sections:
- Changes in each release since version 11.0
- System Requirements
Version 2018 for Windows 10, 8.1 and 7
Released February 2018
Note: This update applies to version 2018 of ZoomText Magnifier, ZoomText Magnifier/Reader and Fusion.
New Version Number Scheme
Beginning with this release, ZoomText and Fusion will now be numbered using the year it will be shipping in, rather than an arbitrary number. You can think of it as though these are the 2018 models of ZoomText and Fusion coming out, just as they do with automobiles. This new version number system also makes it easier for users to know which versions of ZoomText, Fusion and JAWS go together, and when they were released.
New Lifetime Serial Number
ZoomText product activation is now performed using Freedom Scientific’s Internet License Manager, also known as “ILM”. With the ILM, ZoomText owners now receive a lifetime ZoomText serial number that persists when purchasing future ZoomText upgrades and other Freedom Scientific software products. No longer do users need to enter a new serial number for each upgrade.
For customers entitled to receive the ZoomText 2018 upgrade as part of the SMA program, if you have not received your new ILM authorization code, please contact your distributor (if you are outside of the United States) or Freedom Scientific (if you are inside the United States). Please have your previous ZoomText Serial number available to assist us with emailing you your new Authorization Code.
New ZoomText Setup Program
ZoomText has a new streamlined setup program that makes the installation of ZoomText faster and easier to complete. The Setup interface has been streamlined and modernized with a fresh look that is intuitive and comfortable to use. And each dialog is fully self-voiced providing verbal guidance to help you complete the ZoomText setup in a snap.
New ZoomText Startup Wizard
The new ZoomText Startup Wizard makes it easier for users to choose how ZoomText starts up. The Startup Wizard appears automatically right after you activate ZoomText, but you can always run the startup wizard at any time from the ZoomText > Preferences menu.
New Vocalizer Expressive Voices
All versions of ZoomText Magnifier/Reader now include Vocalizer Expressive voices, providing voices for the most commonly spoken languages and dialects from around the world. When you install ZoomText, one male and/or female voice matching the language of your Windows operating system is automatically installed. Additional voices can be added at any time by selecting Download More Voices in ZoomText’s Voice Settings dialog box.
Improved Performance for All
A wide range of Improvements in ZoomText’s foundation has provided major improvements in performance and compatibility with Windows, Office, Adobe Reader and many other mainstream and specialized applications.
New 4-Monitor Support
ZoomText can now be used with systems running up to 4 monitors and desktops. ZoomText’s innovative multiple monitor support allows you to view different applications on each monitor or different views of the same application on each monitor. The Lens zoom window is also now available when running with multiple monitors.
Localizations Available in this Release
This release of ZoomText 2018 provides a localized user interface for the following languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, English UK, English US, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, and Swedish.
THE FOLLOWING ITEMS APPLY TO FUSION 2018 ONLY
New “Speech On Demand”
Fusion 2018 introduces a new Speech On Demand option that allows you to mute automatic speech output (such as the announcements that normally occur when you navigate through menus and dialogs), while still allowing you to trigger screen reading commands to hear items of interest, such as the Say All command or Speak the Window Title command. Users who prefer to navigate silently (using their vision or a braille display), but then have items of interest spoken aloud will find Speech on Demand a very welcome addition.
New Convenient OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
The new Convenient OCR feature recognizes text in inaccessible PDF documents, screen images, and image files. When one of these inaccessible items is encountered, Fusion will alert you and provide the option to process the item for readable text. When the process is complete, Fusion will automatically read the recognized text to you. The Convenient OCR feature also allows you to capture and process printed items using a PEARL camera (from Freedom Scientific) or a supported flatbed scanner. Again, when process is complete, Fusion will automatically read the recognized text to you.
The following hardware and software are required to run ZoomText 2018 and Fusion 2018:
- Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 with Service Pack 1 (or later).
- Processor: 2 GHz i3 dual core processor or similar. i5 or i7 recommended.
- 4 GB Ram. 8 GB recommended.
- Video card with support for DirectX 10 or higher.
- Recommended: 256 MB dedicated video memory.
- 400 MB hard drive space. SSD drive recommended.
- 5-point multi-touch display for touch screen support.
- USB 2.0 for ZoomText Camera support.
The March update of JAWS is here. The following is a list of improvements made in JAWS 2018 between the February 2018 update and the March 2018 update.
To download the latest release, visit the Downloads web page.
- JAWS will now unmute your sound card automatically. In addition to refreshing the screen, pressing INSERT+ESC now also checks the sound device being used by JAWS or Fusion to make sure it is not currently muted or has the sound level set to 0 percent. If muted, it will be unmuted. Or, if the sound level somehow got set to 0 percent, this new feature will raise it to 50 percent, allowing you to recover without getting assistance. The sound device is also checked every time JAWS or Fusion is restarted. If you purposely muted JAWS speech, there is not an issue as this new feature only looks at the Windows setting for the sound card, not the JAWS speech settings.
- This update includes drivers for the Orbit Reader 20 braille display from APH. Once the March 2018 update or later is installed, your Orbit Reader 20 will work with JAWS or Fusion 2018 without the need to download a separate driver installation file.
- We've added a new layered command to toggle the Screen Shade on or off. Since some computers do not offer a PRINTSCREEN key, you can now press INSERT+SPACEBAR, F11 as an alternative to INSERT+SPACEBAR, PRINTSCREEN to toggle the Screen Shade feature.
- The Commands Search along with the layered keystroke to launch it (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J) is now at the top of the JAWS Help menu to make it easier for users to locate this feature. The Search for Commands item has been removed from the JAWS Utilities menu.
- Resolved an issue with the Bookshare Book Search Research It lookup source not displaying a list of books as expected.
- When selecting files from a list view in File Explorer, resolved an issue where JAWS would not announce names of files if the list extended past the visible window.
- Resolved an issue where JAWS would unexpectedly restart when pressing ALT+WINDOWS+I to move to the next inconsistency in a document.
- When using JAWS over a Remote Desktop or Citrix connection with a braille display connected, resolved an issue where JAWS on the remote system would sometimes close unexpectedly.
- Added a new Dictionary entry to correct the pronunciation of Aira. It will now be pronounced: "EyeRah".
- JAWS now uses the Liblouis braille translator for French braille. Note that French Grade 1 and French Grade 2 currently only supports output. If you want to be able to both display and type braille in Grade 1 or Grade 2, you should choose Unified French.
- JAWS now includes a Finnish language braille table which can be selected in the Computer Braille Tables dialog box in Settings Center.
Amazon Kindle for PC
- You can now select text in a Kindle book by character, word, line, and paragraph. Once you select the text and press CTRL+C to copy, the Kindle app opens a selection toolbar where you can copy the selected text, highlight the text, lookup the text on the Internet, add a note, and more.
- Addressed issues with JAWS not working correctly with the Spellchecker in the latest updates to Office 365.
- When navigating in the Outlook auto complete list that displays when typing in the header fields of a new message, resolved an issue where JAWS was announcing the previous item instead of the currently selected one.
- When spell checking a Word document and you are focused in the Original Sentence field, pressing ENTER now accepts the first suggestion.
- Addressed reported issues with using Braille Line Mode in Office 2010 on Windows 7.
- In response to customer feedback, improved the error message that is spoken when INSERT+C to read the word in context is pressed and focus is not in the Spellchecker.
- You can now select and copy text from web pages in Microsoft Edge. Currently, selecting by character, word, and line are supported.
- When navigating by character in Edge, addressed an issue where JAWS was not indicating upper case characters.
- When using the JAWS table reading commands to move through a table in Edge, resolved an issue where JAWS was not indicating links in table cells.
- The O and SHIFT+O Navigation Quick Keys now move to the next and previous article on a web page. In addition, the CTRL+INSERT+O command now displays a list of articles on the page. The scripts for navigating by object are still available but are no longer assigned. They can be reassigned if needed using the Navigation Quick Key Manager accessed from the Run JAWS Manager dialog box (INSERT+F2).
- Pressing APOSTROPHE or SHIFT+APOSTROPHE now moves to the next or previous tab control on a web page. You can also now press CTRL+INSERT+APOSTROPHE to display a list of all tab controls.
- When encountering a separator on a web page, resolved an issue where JAWS was incorrectly reading several dashes before saying "separator".
- Addressed an issue where JAWS was not automatically reading dialog boxes opened from web pages in Chrome or when using INSERT+B.
- Resolved an issue where some tables were not being detected properly with JAWS 2018 even though they worked fine in JAWS 18.
- Addressed a reported issue with the B and SHIFT+B Navigation Quick Keys not moving to menu buttons as expected.
- Resolved an issue where JAWS custom labels assigned to edit fields were not being announced in Chrome.
- If Forms mode is set to Auto or Semi-Auto, resolved a reported issue where Forms mode was not activating when navigating to a vertical slider using the TAB Key.
- Resolved an issue where JAWS was not announcing results in the calculator in the latest Windows 10 updates.
- If you use multiple desktops, JAWS now indicates the currently active desktop when CTRL+WINDOWS+LEFT ARROW or CTRL+WINDOWS+RIGHT ARROW is pressed to switch between desktops.
- When pressing ENTER to select a category or subcategory in the Windows Settings app (WINDOWS+I), JAWS now says which item is selected as you navigate the list in addition to indicating the selection in braille.
Introducing Dictation Bridge a free open source dictation solution for NVDA and Jaws. It serves as a gateway between you, the NVDA and/or Jaws screen readers and either Dragon Naturally Speaking or Windows Speech Recognition.
Dictation Bridge 1.0 is fully featured. Some of the highlights are:
- Works with both NVDA and Jaws
- Jaws users can control both Windows Speech Recognition and Dragon.
- Does not change screen reader set up unrelated to dictation
- Echoes back dictated text
- An extensive collection of verbal commands that can control screen readers and perform a variety of other tasks with Dragon products.
- No cost solution
- As free open source software it can be added to, modified or repurposed by the community.
- High-quality documentation
- Can hand off its functionality between screen readers.
See the DictationBridge documentation for a full list of features.
The popular free screen reader, NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), has released version 2017.4, which includes many fixes and enhancements to web support. This includes browse mode for web dialogs by default, better reporting of field group labels in browse mode, support for new Windows 10 technologies such as Windows Defender Application Guard and Windows 10 on ARM64, and automatic reporting of screen orientation and battery status. Please note that this version of NVDA no longer supports Windows XP or Windows Vista. The minimum requirement for NVDA is now windows 7 with Service Pack 1.
New Features include:
- In browse mode, it is now possible to skip past/to the start of landmarks using the skip to end/beginning of container commands (comma/shift+comma).
- In Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, quick navigation to edit fields and form fields now includes editable rich text content (I.e. contentEditable).
- In web browsers, the Elements List can now list form fields and buttons.
- Initial support for Windows 10 on ARM64.
- Early support for reading and interactive navigation of mathematical content for Kindle books with accessible math.
- Added support for Azardi e-book reader.
- Version information for add-ons is now reported when being updated.
- Added new command line parameters to create a portable copy of NVDA.
- Support for Microsoft Edge running within Windows Defender Application Guard in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
- If running on a laptop or tablet, NVDA will now report when a charger is connected/disconnected, and when the screen orientation changes.
- New language: Macedonian.
- New braille translation tables: Croatian grade 1, Vietnamese grade 1.
- Support for the Actilino braille display from Handy Tech has been added.
- Braille input for Handy Tech braille displays is now supported.
- The minimum supported Operating System for NVDA is now Windows 7 Service Pack 1, or Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.
- Web dialogs in Firefox and Chrome web browsers now automatically use browse Mode, unless inside of a web application.
- In browse mode, tabbing and moving with quick navigation commands no longer announces jumping out of containers such as lists and tables, which makes navigating more efficient.
- In Browse mode for Firefox and Chrome, the name of form field groups are now announced when moving into them with quick navigation or when tabbing.
- In browse mode, the quick navigation command for embedded objects (o and shift+o) now includes audio and video elements as well as elements with the aria roles application and dialog.
- Espeak-ng has been updated to 1.49.2, resolving some issues with producing release builds.
- On the third activation of the 'read status bar' command, its contents is copied to the clipboard.
- When assigning gestures to keys on a Baum display, you can limit them to the model of the braille display in use (e.g. VarioUltra or Pronto).
- The hotkey for the filter field in the elements list in browse mode has changed from alt+f to alt+e.
- An unbound command has been added for browse mode to toggle the inclusion of layout tables on the fly. You can find this command in the Browse mode category of the Input Gestures dialog.
- Upgraded liblouis braille translator to 3.3.0.
- The hotkey for the regular expression radio button in the dictionary dialog has changed from alt+r to alt+e.
- Voice dictionary files are now versioned and have been moved to the 'speechDicts/voiceDicts.v1' directory.
- Versioned files (user configuration, voice dictionaries) modifications are no longer saved when NVDA is run from the launcher.
- The Braillino, Bookworm and Modular (with old firmware) braille displays from Handy Tech are no longer supported out of the box. Install the Handy Tech Universal Driver and NVDA add-on to use these displays.
- Links are now indicated in braille in applications such as Microsoft Word.
- NVDA no longer becomes noticeably slower when many tabs are open in either Firefox or Chrome web browsers.
- Cursor routing for the MDV Lilli Braille display no longer incorrectly moves one braille cell ahead of where it should be.
- In Internet Explorer and other MSHTML documents, the HTML5 required attribute is now supported to indicate the required state of a form field.
- Braille displays are now updated when typing Arabic characters in a left-aligned WordPad document.
- Accessible labels for controls in Mozilla Firefox are now more readily reported in browse mode when the label does not appear as content itself.
- On windows 10 Creaters Update, NVDA can again access Firefox after a restart of NVDA.
- When restarting NVDA with Mozilla Firefox in focus, browse mode will again be available, though you may need to alt+tab away and back again.
- It is now possible to access math content in Google Chrome on a system without Mozilla Firefox installed.
- The Operating System and other applications should be more stable directly after installing NVDA before rebooting, as compaired with installs of previous NVDA versions.
- When using a content recognition command (e.g. NVDA+r), NVDA now reports an error message instead of nothing if the navigator object has disappeared.
- Backward scrolling functionality has been fixed for Freedom Scientific braille displays containing a left bumper bar.
Changes for Developers
- "scons tests" now checks that translatable strings have translator comments. You can also run this alone with "scons checkPot".
- There is now a new extensionPoints module which provides a generic framework to enable code extensibility at specific points in the code. This allows interested parties to register to be notified when some action occurs (extensionPoints.Action), to modify a specific kind of data (extensionPoints.Filter) or to participate in deciding whether something will be done (extensionPoints.Decider).
- You can now register to be notified about configuration profile switches via the config.configProfileSwitched Action.
- Braille display gestures that emulate system keyboard key modifiers (such as control and alt) can now be combined with other emulated system keyboard keys without explicit definition.
- For example, if you have a key on your display bound to the alt key and another display key to downArrow, combining these keys will result in the emulation of alt+downArrow.
- The braille.BrailleDisplayGesture class now has an extra model property. If provided, pressing a key will generate an additional, model specific gesture identifier. This allows a user to bind gestures limited to a specific braille display model.
- See the baum driver as an example for this new functionality.
NVDA is now compiled with Visual Studio 2017 and the Windows 10 SDK.
Need a little help working with gestures when you turn on Talkback and Explore by Touch on your Android device? How about using gestures with VoiceOver in iOS? Here are a couple of reference sheets to help you handle those gestures like a pro:
In this episode
Jeremy and Mark have a fund discussion about the accessibility of the iPhoneX especially as it relates to the facial recognition feature.
The Interactive Accessibility Podcast (IAP) is an entertaining approach to accessibility. We enjoy sharing our discussions on accessibility and how it relates to technology, real-life issues, information, businesses, and people with disabilities.
JAWS 2018 Public Beta
Jaws has released the 2018 Public Beta. Among the new features are:
- JAWS Version Number Change
- Microsoft Edge Support
- Convenient OCR Adds Support for Freedom Scientific Cameras and Flatbed Scanners
- All New Installer
- New Verbosity Options for the Virtual Cursor“Document and Web Pages Automatically Read when Loaded” Option added to settings
- Support for Microsoft Mobile Voices in Windows 10
- Updated Liblouis Braille Translator
- Improvement to Jaws Language Switching
- Acronym Expansion Included When Spelling a Word
- Read Dialog Boxes in Modern Apps
For more details and to download the JAWS 2018 Public Beta read What’s new in JAWS 2018 Public Beta on the Freedom Scientific website.
Written by: Kurt Bunge