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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. 

Google is requiring developers explain how their apps properly use Accessibility Service to help people with disabilities in order to keep their requests for Accessibility Services. Noncompliance will mean the removal of the app from the Play Store. This is separate from the effort to make an app conform to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. Some sites, such as Android Police, have speculated that this initiative could largely be due to security.

Read more on Google’s new requirement on 9TO5Google.

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. 

For those who are blind the total solar eclipse, which is coming on August 21, 2017, could be little more than a story if it weren’t for The Eclipse Soundscapes Project by NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium. Through an iOS app, the project will deliver a multisensory experience of the event. This will include:

  • Audio description in real time
  • Recordings of the changing environment
  • A “rumble map” allowing user to visualize the eclipse through touch

The recordings will remain available as an open source file. The app can be downloaded from the apple store.  It will also be available for android soon. MP3 and MP4 files will also be available for desktop

The ZoomText development has delivered a robust set of version 11.5 updates for ZoomText 11 Magnifier, Magnifier/Reader and Fusion. These free updates deliver important enhancements to the ZoomText software, improving performance, stability and functionality in ZoomText’s features and tools. Also included are much faster updating of ZoomText (through the ZoomText Update Wizard), new localizations for Hebrew and Japanese, and a new “Hotkey Layouts” menu for simultaneously switching ZoomText and JAWS between their respective desktop and laptop hotkey layouts (when running ZoomText Fusion only). You can learn about all of the changes in the 11.5 update in the ZoomText 11 release notes: https://www.zoomtext.com/help/releasenotes.

To get the ZoomText 11.5 updates (for Magnifier and Magnifier/Reader)

  • If a previous version of ZoomText 11 Magnifier or Magnifier Reader is already installed on your system, 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 fast update process.

    If you need to install ZoomText 11.5 Magnifier or Magnifier/Reader on a new system (where ZoomText is not yet installed), you can download the full installer from the ZoomText Downloads webpage: http://zoomtext.com/downloads. On this webpage, go to the section titled “ZoomText 11 Magnifier and Magnifier/Reader” and choose the installer that matches your license type.

To get the Fusion 11.5 updates

  • Go to the ZoomText Downloads webpage: http://zoomtext.com/downloads. On this page, go to the section titled Fusion 11 and choose the installer that matches the language you require.

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.

For the first time the Unified Regulatory Agenda breaks out all agency regulatory action into three categories:

  • Active
  • Long-term
  • Inactive

The agenda does not define these terms. However, it appears only the active and long-term matters receive a description and project deadlines.

This is the Trump Administration’s first Agenda and it reveals DOJ has placed web accessibility among other things under Title II and III of the ADA on the Inactive List.

Read more on the Unified Regulatory Agenda on the ADA Title III Blog

The California Dental Association (CDA) has responded to member calls and a recent communication from the American Dental Association regarding the need for website accessibility by adding a section on website accessibility to its AwDA-related resources.

The CDA has made, Americans with Disabilities ACT and Disability Rights Laws, available to its members for download on the CDA Practice Support webpage. This provides background on the federal law and offers members guidance on complying to the federal and state physical accessibility standards, requirements for communication with people who have hearing impairments and a Q-and-A with links to resources and the newly added guidance on ensuring practices websites are in compliance with the AwDA.

You can read more on the CDA’s new web accessibility resources on the CDA’s 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.

Skittles bouncing of a deck

Not long after I had gotten off a call with Kathy discussing her upcoming IAAP webinar, Where is Your Organization on the Accessibility Maturity Scale, I was sitting on my back deck with my family when my youngest son declared he had a sugar craving and emerged from a plastic shopping bag with a family size bag of Skittles. He grabbed two sides of the candy bag, bared his teeth and pulled. All of us more mature members of his family prophesized an explosion of colorful candies and a rainbow of fruit flavors raining onto our composite decking.

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