Mark Miller, the host, and his producer Marissa speak with Steve Sawczyn, Principal Digital Accessibility Engineer at Optum (part of UnitedHealth Group). Steve talks about how, although “It’s a great time to be blind,” he still runs into accessibility challenges that can be mildly embarrassing (how do you ask someone to tell you if you’re standing six feet away from them to abide by social distancing rules?) to potentially dangerous (information on Covid-19 is overwhelmingly found online, ideally on accessible websites).
- Screen Readers
Men used to explain their interest in Playboy magazine by citing the great literary content––not the images of scantily clad women. A legally blindman, Donald Nixon, recently took that argument to the next level by filing a lawsuit against the iconic publication alleging that neither Playboy.com nor Playboyshop.com were compatible with his screenreader. It turns out Mr. Nixon actually does want to read it for the articles, and according to the ADA, he argues, he should have every right to.
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.
At the National Federation of the Blind National Convention on July 1-6 Vital Source Technologies, an Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solutions, showcased new features to its already comprehensive accessibility support for the VitalSource Bookshelf platform.
Vital Source Technologies works to continually support industry standards for accessibility through conformance testing on all bookshelf platforms. They test offline on Windows and Macs, online on Windows and Macs using standard browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari), and on mobile devices for iOS and Android. All Bookshelf platforms are evaluated using screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA for Windows, VoiceOver for Mac and IOS, and TalkBack for Android.
Vital Source collaborates with accessibility consultants, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to insure the platform is tested in conformance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
In addition to the client updates being released, Vital Source will provide an updated and independently-reviewed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®) for each of the platforms. The Android, iOS, Browser, Macintosh and Windows VPAT®’s are available for download.
Read more on VPAT®’s and Accessibility Certification.
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.
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.
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 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 email@example.com.
By Jeremy Curry