NVDA; Karen -- Your Alternative Solution
Thank you for this post. It's what many of us were hoping to get from Karen:toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
a detailed description of the strengths and weaknesses of NVDA. Between your
comments and Gary's occasional references to using it when JAWS fails, I am
now tempted to add it to my system.
For clarification, I've added NVDA to the subject line. I hope it won't
incur the wrath of the purists.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
On Behalf Of Christopher Bartlett
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 4:16 PM
To: 'The Jaws for Windows support list.'
Subject: RE: Karen -- Your Alternative Solution
I'm not Karen, but I am someone who uses NVDA as my primary screen reader,
with JFW held in reserve for those situations where NVDA won't work, or at
least I haven't figured out how to make it work. I'm not going to take the
apparent position of Karen, as I use both and couldn't really advise a
serious or business user to kick the shark habit. In fact, this
conversation stuck out at me and I don't know the history, but for what it's
worth, here are my experiences.
NVDA is a fabulous everyday screen reader. It's agile, lightweight and more
responsive in most environments than JFW in my experience. When it works,
it works quite nicely, and it works most of the time. Its command structure
is much simpler than JFW or WE which both makes it easier to learn, and
indicates some of its limitations.
I love the object navigation mode that works, as I understand it, rather
like VoiceOver on the mac, in that you can interact with system and
application objects both as objects and with the text in each object. This
allows me for instance to move focus very easily to the html-like elements
in the Carbonite user interface, which I haven't been able to get to in JFW,
then set focus there and interact with the controls smoothly. This mode
gives access in some situations where JFW can't find a hook to interact
NVDA's portable mode is even easier to use than JFW's since there is no
video intercept to install. It's rather trivial to put it on a thumb drive
and have instant access to any computer you plug it into. This promise is
almost, but not quite realized by JFW. I can see this being a major feature
in a computing center environment.
Alas, not all is love and kisses in the NVDA world if you are used to JFW.
There are some things missing. There is no skimming or summarizing feature.
There is no way to set up row and column headers in Excel to read
automatically. There is to my knowledge almost no access to Microsoft
Access, and I believe PowerPoint access is much better in JFW.
Spell-checking is frustratingly hard in NVDA, in fact you don't really get
access to the dialog in any useful way. Outlook works well enough, except
the suggestions for addresses don't read automatically and calendar access
is a lot more primitive.
I miss being able to advance during a say all by hitting a key to move to
the next say-all element. This is a small thing, but makes pages like
Facebook less useful. I also miss JFW's ability to filter out repeated
content on successive web pages.
In short, while JFW has its quirks and in fact as I said for everyday use I
use NVDA, which among other things I find easier for programming with, I
would not recommend flying solo with it in a business environment. I
certainly can't do everything I need to do yet. I say yet, because it looks
like there is a growing body of plug-ins for NVDA (which function something
like JFW scripts) which are starting to add functionality that didn't exist
before. It may be that the user community will yet provide missing
functionality and make it an even more robust competitor. FS and GW Micro
should be careful as it is already capable of moving many users away from
the upgrades. I haven't bought my 13 upgrade at this point. I fancy I will
eventually, but for now a combination of financial circumstances and a
workable alternative have made this less urgent.
And hey, memory is cheap and hard drive goes forever, so have both if you
don't mind the cognitive task switching that goes on when you change
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