Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

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Open Source Screen Reader Gives Sighted Individuals a Glimpse into the Blind World

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by at 11:08 pm on Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recently I came across NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) – a free and open source screen reader compatible with Microsoft Windows. Not only does NVDA give individuals with visual impairments an alternative to the ridiculously over-priced screen readers, it also provides the rest of us the opportunity to experience screen readers. 

WebAIM provides a quick start guide for using NVDA to evaluate web accessibility. Of course, using NVDA on your own shouldn’t replace including proficient screen reader users from your usability and accessibility testing. But, NVDA does finally give sighted individuals a way to experience what individuals with visual impairments deal with every time they use the computer. For more insights into how individuals with visual impairments use screen readers, check out WebAIM’s comprehensive screen reader survey results.

If you’re up for a challenge, install NVDA and have a listen to your favourite blogs or websites. Feel free to share what you discover in the comments below.

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Comment by Douglas T

July 22, 2009 @ 6:29 am

Thank you. The one I’ve been using wasn’t that good. This will help with my initial testing.

Comment by Glenda

July 22, 2009 @ 11:59 am

Exactly, Douglas. I’m excited about this option too; JAWS just wasn’t in my small business budget.

I’m curious to hear from proficient screen readers for their opinion of NVDA. Is it as robust as JAWS or Window Eyes.

Comment by Ruth Ellison

July 22, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

I was fortunate in that I got to hear one of the NVDA developers presenting at a conference at the start of this year. It’s a good alternative.

Comment by Craig Bailey

July 24, 2009 @ 5:41 am

Still waiting for that killer open source screen reader for the Mac …!

Comment by Glenda

July 25, 2009 @ 1:05 pm

Craig, thanks. I was wondering if there was an equivalent for the Mac. So, how do we get programmers going on an open source screen reader for Macs?

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