Screen Readers

Freedom Scientific has released JAWS 18.0.2738, which boasts several improvements made between the JAWS 18 February 2017 release and this April 2017 update. The latest release can be downloaded at the JAWS download page.

Here is a list of the improvement you find in the new download:

JAWS

  • A customer reported that Krzysztof was missing from the Vocalizer Expressive 2.2 Polish compact voices collection. This has been resolved and the updated voice collection can be downloaded from the Synthesizer Downloads web page.
  • Resolved an issue where the Weather Research It lookup source was not displaying any results.
  • The JAWS Audio Ducking feature, which lowers the volume of other apps while JAWS is speaking, is currently disabled in the Windows 10 Creators update due to issues with JAWS not ducking audio as expected in some situations. We are continuing to work with Microsoft and plan on having Audio Ducking available again in a future update of JAWS, as soon as the necessary changes happen in an update of Windows 10.
  • When focused in the Book Page View of the Kindle for PC app, pressing INSERT+F1 now displays an appropriate help message.
  • This update includes updated drivers for the Alva BC6 braille displays from Optelec.
  • Resolved an issue in both WordPad and Word where JAWS was not reading the prompt to save changes when pressing ALT+F4 to close the app and the current document had not yet been saved.
  • Addressed an issue where JAWS was not reading the results when searching from the Windows 8.1 Start screen.

Google Docs

  • Pressing the INSERT+F8 keystroke in Google Drive or Google Docs now displays a list of the controls on the toolbar. Use the UP or DOWN ARROWS to select the control you want to use and then press ENTER or choose OK to activate it. Choose the Move To button to move focus to the selected control on the page. Note that using this command in Internet Explorer may not display all available toolbar controls due to limitations with this browser.
  • You can now use the JAWS Text Analyzer feature to locate errors in Google documents such as unmatched parentheses, unintentional format changes, extra whitespace, and stray or unspaced punctuation. When focused in the document area in Google Docs, press ALT+WINDOWS+I or ALT+WINDOWS+SHIFT+I to move to the next or previous inconsistency in the document. To have JAWS announce inconsistencies as you navigate with the ARROW keys or Say All (INSERT+DOWN ARROW), press INSERT+SPACEBAR, followed by A.
  • Improved JAWS support for the Google Docs spell checker. When focused in the Spellcheck dialog box, pressing INSERT+F7 now speaks and spells the current suggestion, and also reads the spelling error in context.
  • Pressing INSERT+PAGE DOWN while focused in the Google Docs document now reads the activity status such as "online" or "offline."
  • If a Google document contains comments, you can now press CTRL+INSERT+M to read the comment at the cursor location. In addition, JAWS support for the Comment Stream Box (ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+A) which allows you to manage comments, has been improved. Note that JAWS support for comments works best with Firefox or Chrome.
  • The CTRL+DOWN ARROW and CTRL+UP ARROW keystrokes to move by paragraph now work in a Google Docs document.
  • Resolved issues with JAWS double speaking in tables when using table navigation commands.
  • JAWS no longer says "blank" when deleting a character.
  • If the JAWS Commands Search (INSERT+SPACEBAR, J) is launched while focus is in Google Docs, the Virtual Cursor is now enabled so you can navigate the search page and then disabled again when focus returns to Google Docs.
  • When focused in a document, resolved issues with JAWS double speaking when performing copy, cut, paste, and undo operations.

Microsoft Office

  • Improved JAWS automatic announcements of Office 365 notifications that are displayed when collaborating with other users. For example, you should now hear JAWS indicate when one or more users join or leave the document, or if the current line is locked for editing by another user. JAWS also alerts you to any conflicts that are created while co-authoring a document so you can press F6 to move focus to the dialog box where you can address the conflict.
  • You can now use the L and SHIFT+L Navigation Quick Keys in Word documents in Office 365 to move by lists in a document. Pressing CTRL+INSERT+L will also now display a list of all lists in the document. Note that an update to Office is required in order for list navigation to work. If these commands are not working for you yet, future updates from Microsoft will fully enable this functionality.
  • When the CTRL+INSERT+V keystroke is pressed in Office applications to obtain version information, JAWS now also reports if you are running a subscription of Office 365 or a retail version of Office 2016.
  • Added support for the Office Activity pane, which can be accessed using F6. The Activity pane may appear in certain situations, such as when you attempt to open the previous version of a file.
  • When navigating in the Office 365 Styles grid in the ribbons (ALT+H, L), JAWS now indicates the style currently in use.
  • Resolved issues with reading tables contained in slides in PowerPoint 2016.
  • Resolved an issue where the Virtual Cursor was not always enabled as expected after pressing F5 to start a PowerPoint presentation.
  • When navigating by line through the text of an object in PowerPoint, resolved an issue where JAWS would say "graphic" on every line of text.
  • Addressed an issue with JAWS not reporting links as expected when tabbing through a slide in PowerPoint.
  • Improved speech and braille support for the Thumbnails pane in PowerPoint 2016.
  • JAWS now reads group labels as you navigate the Options dialog box in Outlook 2016.
  • Continued improvements to JAWS performance in the Outlook 2016 calendar for how appointments are announced as you navigate through dates.
  • In Excel 2016, addressed a customer reported issue where JAWS was not automatically speaking auto-complete information while typing in cells.
  • Resolved a reported issue with the virtual ribbon not working in Spanish Office 2016.
  • Added a new Quick Settings option, Use UIA for Edit Controls, to specify whether or not JAWS relies on UI Automation (UIA) from Microsoft when reading and editing Word documents in Office 365. This option is enabled by default, and in most cases, should be left on as UIA provides the most complete information to JAWS. However, turning this setting off may improve JAWS performance when navigating very large documents. After toggling this setting, you must close and restart Word before this change will take effect.

Web Browsers

  • The "Select and copy full content using onscreen highlight" Quick Settings option now works in Chrome similar to Internet Explorer. This feature enables you to select and copy text from web pages and paste it into other applications while retaining the original formatting.
  • In response to a customer request, the JAWS Cursor can now be used in Chrome.
  • Resolved an issue where selected items in an ARIA grid were not being indicated in braille.
  • Resolved an issue where attempting to move by paragraph in a multi-line edit field in Chrome was not working as expected.

Windows 10

  • When typing in the Search edit field of the Settings app (WINDOWS Key+I), you can now use UP or DOWN ARROW to move through the list of search results.
  • JAWS no longer speaks extraneous information in the Settings app.
  • Addressed issues with reading messages in the Windows 10 Mail app.
  • When composing a new message in the Mail app, JAWS now reads suggested contacts as you type in the To field.
  • Resolved an issue in the Mail app where pressing the END key was not moving to the end of the current line as expected in wrapped lines.
  • JAWS no longer speaks extraneous information on the account sign-in screen in various Windows 10 apps such as Mail or Maps.
  • Addressed a customer reported issue where JAWS was not automatically speaking results in the Windows 10 Calculator.

NVDA, a popular, award-winning and free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, released version 2.017.1 yesterday. The top new features and changes include:

  • Reporting of sections and text columns in Microsoft Word
  • Support for reading, navigating and annotating books in Kindle for PC
  • Improved support for Microsoft Edge

You can visit the NVDA website to download the screen reader and see a full list of what is new in version 2.017.1

NVDA 2017.1 is slated to be available in late February. It will support the enhanced accessibility functionality in the Amazon Kindle for PC version 1.19. In the new version users will be able to:

  • read books in browse mode
  • read with the cursor
  • use continuous reading
  • have pages turn automatically as they read
  • highlight text
  • add notes
  • perform dictionary and Wikipedia lookups
  • copy text to the clipboard

In addition, users will be able to access:

  • links
  • footnotes
  • graphics
  • highlighted text
  • user notes

The beta version of NVDA with Kindle support is available for testing now. You can download Kindle for PC 1.9 and download the beta version of NVDA with Kindle support. Read more about NVDA and Kindle for PC on NNVACCESS

Microsoft gave away the upgrade to Windows 10 for a full year. Now most users will pay as much as $199 for a copy of the popular operating system. However, if you’re an assistive technology user, there is good news. You can still get it for free.

People who use assistive technologies such as screen readers like Jaws and NVDA used by people who are blind or have low vision can still get Windows 10 for free. Microsoft has rolled out a new webpage to help their customers use assistive technology navigate the process.

This does not, however, elevate the need for producers of website, software and apps to comply with web accessibility guidelines such as the WCAG 2.0, so that people with disabilities can perform functions and access content and to meet the requirements of the ADA.

For more information on complying with the guidelines visit the Expert Accessibility Service page on the Interactive Accessibility website. 

Facebook can now automatically create alternative text for images generating descriptions that enable users who are blind or have low vision to envisage the content of the photo. The iOS app provides an audio breakdown of what’s happening in the photo using object recognition technology.

Using its vast supply of user images, Facebook has trained a deep neural network driving a computer vision system to recognize object in images. As is a standard in the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, the results are translated to “alt text,” which can be read by screen readers. 

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Boston Accessibility is hosting a roundtable at the IBM Innovation Center on 1 Rogers Street in Cambridge Massachusetts. Jeremey Curry from AISquared will talk about the new, ZoomText Fusion.

ZoomText Fusion is a Magnifier/Reader with a complete Screen reader that is designed for users with advanced or progressive vision loss. It tailored for individual who, over time, want a smooth and safe transition from magnification to full screen reading.  

The popular screen reader NVDA has released its 2016.1 version adding new features and changes.

Supports Baum VarioUltra and Pronto! when connected via USB

New feature include:

  • New braille translation tables:
  • Polish 8 dot computer braille
  • Mongolian
  • Ability to turn off the braille curser and changes is shape is the Show Cursor and Cursor shape option in the Braille Setting Dialog
  • Bluetooth connection to a HIMS Smart Beetle braille display
  • Lower the volume of other sounds with Windows 8 and higher installs through the Audio ducking mode option in the Synthesizer dialog of by pressing NVDA+shift+d
  • Supports APH Refresabraille in HID mode
  • Support for HumanWare Brialliant BI/B braille displays when the protocol is set to OpenBraille.

Changes:

  • Emphasis reporting is disabled by default
  • The shortcut for Formulas in the Elements List Dialog in MS Excel has been change to alt+r
  • Liblouis braille translator updated to 2.6.5
  • Text objects no longer announce “text” when they have focus.

The WCAG 2.0 guidelines help in coding accessibly and help meet the requirements of the ADA

(St. Petersburg, Florida – October 29, 2015) – Freedom Scientific today announced the release of version 17 of JAWS® for Windows, the world's premier screen reading software. Significant new features include:

  • Smart Navigation™, a more efficient way to interact with complex web pages and web apps
  • Domain-specific scripting, bringing the power of JAWS scripting to the web
  • Liblouis Braille Translator enhancing usage with Unified English Braille

Navigating complex web content such as pages often found in banking, shopping, or corporate sites, is a challenge for anyone using access technology. Today, JAWS 17 introduces new techniques via the Smart Navigation feature to help users be more efficient as they access this content.

“The ability to move through tables using just the arrow keys, or to skip past an entire menu bar with a single down arrow, are just two examples of how this will benefit users,” says Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management. “Add the capability to script for products such as SharePoint, and JAWS further expands the employment opportunities for visually impaired people worldwide.”

The JAWS 17 upgrade is an SMA release and can be downloaded as either a 32- or 64-bit version from the JAWS downloads web page. DVD shipments to SMA holders and new product customers will commence on November 2, 2015.

About Freedom Scientific

Freedom Scientific is the leading worldwide provider of assistive technology products for those with vision impairments. The Company sells its products worldwide and has offices in Florida and Switzerland. The Company's products have been translated into 24 languages and are available in 55 countries.

NVDA 2015.3rc1 Has Been Released

NVDA 2015.3rc1 has just been released. This is a release candidate so, unless critical issues are discovered, this will be the same as the final 2015.3 release.

This release includes:

  • initial support for Windows 10
  • the ability to disable single letter navigation in browse mode
  • IE improvements
  • Garbled text fixes when typing in certain application with braille enabled.

For more information visit the nvaccess website.

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