With a piece of software called Winstaller from Levtec, one no longer needs to use an answer file for unattended deployment of Windows operating system. This opens up huge opportunities for those of us who cannot see and wish to work in a professional IT setting, or just for fixing our home computers.
In this episode, James Oates demonstrates LookTel Money Reader on an iPhone5 running iOS8.1.2.
LookTel Money Reader instantly recognizes currency and speaks the denomination, enabling people experiencing visual impairments or blindness to quickly and easily identify and count bills. Point the camera of your iOS device at a bill and the application will tell you the denomination in real-time. Twenty one currencies are supported: the US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Bahraini Dinar, Brazilian Real, Belarusian Ruble, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Hungarian Forint, Israeli Shekel, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, Kuwaiti Dinar, Mexican Peso, New Zealand Dollar, Polish Zloty, Russian Ruble, Saudi Arabian Riyal, Singapore Dollar, and United Arab Emirates Dirham.
In his first ever podcast with Cool Blind Tech, Brandon Cross informs Android users about a popular Twitter client called Tweetings. Though it is a mainstream client with images and video content, Tweetings is accessible to Talkback users. With Tweetings any Android user can enjoy all the facets of Twitter, and elements like lists, direct messages and mentions are separated into categories which can either be accessed through the navigation drawer or by swiping right or left with two fingers.
Microsoft’s Yammer team announced updates for Yammer mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Greg Lopez gives us a basic introduction to Talkback, the built-in screen reader for Android devices. Download Talkback for your Android device via the Play Store by clicking here.
NVDA is a free alternative to screen readers like Jaws and Window-Eyes One of its features- in fact, the one I’ll be covering today- is extensibility. So, how is NVDA extensible? Through add-ons, which are packaged zip files with an .nvda extension that contain the necessary files to add or modify the functionality of NVDA. So, let’s discuss how to download and install add-ons, as well as how to manage them afterward.
Within the depths of the Google play store, there exists a staggering amount of launchers, which allow for the customization of your phone’s home screen. Just as car enthusiasts can debate the interior of which car they like best, so can Android users have a heated discussion on which launcher fits their perfect needs and esthetic desires.
In this episode, James Oates demonstrates how to stream music and play a radio station using an Xbox Music Pass subscription. He shows us how to play a movie on Netflix and pin a favorite TV show to the start screen. Finally, he reviews the accessibility of the popular Twitter client, Tweetium. Throughout the episode, James is relying heavily on Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant. Since Cortana is integrated into the Music and Netflix applications, it makes the experience quite simple.
As a visually impaired Windows user, there’s quite a few options out there when it comes to screen reading software for you to choose from… JAWS, Window-Eyes and System Access might be the best known of the commercial screen readers on the market, while in the open-source space there’s one screen reader most visually impaired users have heard of… NVDA, or Non-Visual Desktop Access. While JAWS and it’s brethren are carefully designed, well tested and well supported by their respective creators, they also generally are a bit expensive, especially when factoring in the software maintenance agreements that keep these screen readers up to date. On the other hand, NVDA is a high-quality, open-source and most importantly, free screen reader that I’ve used exclusively for the last 90 days and would highly recommend to Windows users looking for an alternative to the commercial screen readers.
When it comes to installation, NVDA is quite straightforward to install, with an installation wizard that walks you through the process with speech, even if no other screen reader is installed on your system. Basically it’s agreeing to the license, clicking a few buttons and clicking Finish when it’s done. Dead simple… and you’re back to your normal routine.
The experience with NVDA is a bit different than the commercial screen readers, as there’s no special display driver required to make things accessible. NVDA uses the built-in accessibility frameworks in Windows to provide the information it needs to provide spoken feedback of what’s on screen at the moment. What this means is that in some cases, applications that may not have been very accessible under the commercial screen readers might become accessible under NVDA. It’s not always perfect, but I’ve had some applications that I thought were inaccessible using a commercial screen reader become useful to various degrees under NVDA. Your mileage may vary, so don’t be afraid to test out the accessibility of your favorite application.
So, what works well with NVDA? Here’s a short list of applications I use that work quite well, and that you might find useful:
There’s more than just these applications, but these are applications I use, and have found to be quite accessible. Unfortunately, not all applications will work with NVDA, but it’s not due to something with NVDA itself, but the fact that whomever develops the inaccessible application didn’t use any of the accessibility frameworks that Windows or NVDA supports, thereby making the application difficult to use by the visually impaired. This isn’t a problem exclusive to NVDA, but it’s common enough to preclude visually impaired Windows users from using some Windows applications.
NVDA and Plug-Ins
Extensibility is a great thing when it comes to screen readers, and NVDA has a modular plug-in system that adds additional functionality to your NVDA installation. Yes, the commercial screen readers are extensible as well, but it’s a bit less intuitive to add extra functionality to them. With NVDA, it’s simple as downloading a prepackaged add-on, double click, and NVDA handles the rest, even offering to restart so the plug-ins you installed are ready to use. There’s everything from add-ons to enhance your favorite applications to speech synths for better sounding spoken feedback and beyond. It’s up to you which plug-ins you want installed, so go ahead and experiment… NVDA also offers an easy way to remove those pesky plug-ins that you don’t need anymore.
If I had to end this article in one sentence, it would be this: NVDA is a high-quality, free screen reader for the Windows platform worth installing. To expand on that, NV Access has done a quite good job with NVDA, and I strongly encourage you to try it out. participate in the community to make it better and donate if you can afford to do so. Happy accessible computing!
About a year ago, I felt a need to try linux on my PC. I was unhappy with the direction that Microsoft was going and had a desire to move on from the Windows operating system. So, I downloaded and burned an Ubuntu 12.04 image onto a DVD and tried out the live feature. I was able to get orca, (the free screenreader that shipped with Ubuntu) running with a keystroke and I played around with it. When I felt the limitations of the live environment, mainly the slow loading speeds, (the live environment runs directly from the DVD), I decided to install it.