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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.

Changes:

  • 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.

Bug Fixes

  • 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. 

IAP 2017-E5: Darren the Guide Dog

In this episode:

Co-host Mark Miller, who is sited, takes co-host Jeremy Curry’s guide dog, Darren, for a mismatched and confusing walk across a busy Chicago street. Learn a bit about the unique relationship between a guide dog and their owner through the story of this little misadventure.

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.

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Kmart, Empire Today and Ace Hardware have all been accused of having websites that allegedly cannot be used by individuals who are visually impaired. Lawsuits have been filed by a California woman that alleges the companies are running websites and mobile apps that people who are blind and visually impaired can’t read, meaning they are denying potential customers access to products and services, a violation of the ADA.

See the Chicago Tribune article for more information

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. 

The ZoomText 11.4 update is now available for ZoomText 11 Magnifier, Magnifier/Reader, and Fusion. This free update (for users of ZoomText 11) provides expanded support for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, including full 32- and 64-bit support, stable magnification, and our popular Smart Invert feature. In addition, this update also brings a variety of compatibility fixes for popular applications, a new banner and sound cues that improve the usability of ZoomText’s layered command keys, and other refinements to the ZoomText user interface and localizations.

Learn about all of the changes in the 11.4 update in the ZoomText 11 release notes https://www.zoomtext.com/help/releasenotes.

To get the 11.4 update, go to the ZoomText 11 toolbar and choose ZoomText > Manage License > Check for Updates. This will launch the update wizard and walk you through the installation. If you prefer, you can also download the full ZoomText 11.4 installer from the product updates page: https://www.zoomtext.com/help/product-updates/. Be sure to download the installer that matches your license type.

We hope you are enjoying ZoomText 11 and would love to hear your thoughts on how we can make it better. Send your feedback to support@aisquared.com.

IAP Logo Your Accessibility Podcast

Explore the not so distant future of autonomous cars and the accessibility implications with Jeremy and Mark.

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. 

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

The latest release of NVDA (2017.2) includes full support for audio ducking in the Windows 10 Creators Update; fixes for several selection issues in browse mode, including problems with select all; significant improvements in Microsoft Edge support; and improvements on the web such as indication of elements marked as current (using aria-current).

New Features

  • Cell border information can now be reported in Microsoft Excel by using NVDA+f. (#3044)
  • In web browsers, NVDA now indicates when an element has been marked as current (specifically, using the aria-current attribute). (#6358)
  • Automatic language switching is now supported in Microsoft Edge. (#6852)
  • Added support for Windows Calculator on Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (Long-Term Servicing Branch) and Server. (#6914)
  • Performing the read current line command three times quickly spells the line with character descriptions. (#6893)
  • New language: Burmese.
  • Unicode up and down arrows and fraction symbols are now spoken appropriately. (#3805)

Changes

  • When navigating with simple review in applications using UI Automation, more extraneous objects are now ignored, making navigation easier. (#6948, #6950)

Bug Fixes

  • Web page menu items can now be activated while in browse mode. (#6735)
  • Pressing escape while the configuration profile "Confirm Deletion" dialog is active now dismisses the dialog. (#6851)
  • Fixed some crashes in Mozilla Firefox and other Gecko applications where the multi-process feature is enabled. (#6885)
  • Reporting of background color in screen review is now more accurate when text was drawn with a transparent background. (#6467)
  • Improved support for control descriptions provided on web pages in Internet Explorer 11 (specifically, support for aria-describedby within iframes and when multiple IDs are provided). (#5784)
  • In the Windows 10 Creators Update, NVDA's audio ducking again works as in previous Windows releases; i.e. Duck with speech and sounds, always duck and no ducking are all available. (#6933)
  • NVDA will no longer fail to navigate to or report certain (UIA) controls where a keyboard shortcut is not defined. (#6779)
  • Two empty spaces are no longer added in keyboard shortcut information for certain (UIA) controls. (#6790)
  • Certain combinations of keys on HIMS displays (e.g. space+dot4) no longer fail intermittently. (#3157)
  • Fixed an issue when opening a serial port on systems using certain languages other than English which caused connecting to braille displays to fail in some cases. (#6845)
  • Reduced the chance of the configuration file being corrupted when Windows shuts down. Configuration files are now written to a temporary file before replacing the actual configuration file. (#3165)
  • When performing the read current line command twice quickly to spell the line, the appropriate language is now used for the spelled characters. (#6726)
  • Navigating by line in Microsoft Edge is now up to three times faster in the Windows 10 Creators Update. (#6994)
  • NVDA no longer announces "Web Runtime grouping" when focusing Microsoft Edge documents in the Windows 10 Creators Update. (#6948)
  • All existing versions of SecureCRT are now supported. (#6302)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader no longer crashes in certain PDF documents (specifically, those containing empty ActualText attributes). (#7021, #7034)
  • In browse mode in Microsoft Edge, interactive tables (ARIA grids) are no longer skipped when navigating to tables with t and shift+t. (#6977)
  • In browse mode, pressing shift+home after selecting forward now unselects to the beginning of the line as expected. (#5746)
  • In browse mode, select all (control+a) no longer fails to select all text if the caret is not at the start of the text. (#6909)
  • Fixed some other rare selection problems in browse mode. (#7131)

Changes for Developers

  • Commandline arguments are now processed with Python's argparse module, rather than optparse. This allows certain options such as -r and -q to be handled exclusively. (#6865)
  • core.callLater now queues the callback to NVDA's main queue after the given delay, rather than waking the core and executing it directly. This stops possible freezes due to the core accidentally going to sleep after processing a callback, in the midle of a modal call such as the desplaying of a message box. (#6797)
  • The InputGesture.identifiers property has been changed so that it is no longer normalized. (#6945)
    • Subclasses no longer need to normalize identifiers before returning them from this property.
    • If you want normalized identifiers, there is now an InputGesture.normalizedIdentifiers property which normalizes the identifiers returned by the identifiers property .
  • The InputGesture.logIdentifier property is now deprecated. Callers should use InputGesture.identifiers[0] instead. (#6945)
  • Removed some deprecated code:
  • `speech.REASON_*` constants: `controlTypes.REASON_*` should be used instead. (#6846)
  • `i18nName` for synth settings: `displayName` and `displayNameWithAccelerator` should be used instead. (#6846, #5185)
  • `config.validateConfig`. (#6846, #667)
  • `config.save`: `config.conf.save` should be used instead. (#6846, #667)
  • The list of completions in the autocomplete context menu of the Python Console no longer shows any object path leading up to the final symbol being completed. (#7023)
  • Unit tests and infrastructure are located in the tests/unit directory. See the docstring in the tests\unit\init.py file for details.
  • You can run tests using "scons tests". See the "Running Tests" section of readme.md for details.
  • There is now a unit testing framework for NVDA. (#7026)

If you are submitting a pull request for NVDA, you should first run the tests and ensure they pass.

GAAD Logo

As you may have guessed from the title, today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! If you don’t know what GAAD is, it is “to get everyone thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.”  And, if you are coming to our site to learn about accessibility, you are in the right place!  Interactive Accessibility is known globally for being the experts in digital accessibility.

GW Micro recently announced on its website that they are ending the sales of Window-Eyes, effective immediately in the United States and Canada. Users outside of the United States and Canada should contact their local distributor for options.

Understanding how important a screen reader is to individuals with vision disabilities, they are offering JAWS® for Windows 18 as a replacement. Stating, “We are committed to providing a smooth transition and will honor existing Window-Eyes product purchases and software maintenance agreements.”

It is important to note that the free Window-Eyes Offer for Users of Microsoft Office version is not part of the conversion program.

For complete details visit the GW Micro website.

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