Re: Karen -- Your Alternative Solution

Lisle, Ted (CHFS DMS)

Nothing wrong with the right tool for the right job. Both the freebies
I know about can be run in portable mode, which could be great for
either location or occasional use.


-----Original Message-----
[] 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 with.

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
There are some things missing. There is no skimming or summarizing
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

Christopher Bartlett

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