I have been a JAWS user since…I can't remember when…maybe it was 1990. Over the years there have been persistent bugs which seem never to get fixed. With each new release new features have been added that I can hardly understand let alone ever use. The next to last straw was when I reported to Freedom Scientific that when I press control A (select all) in a large word document that the insertion cursor jumps to the end of the file losing my place. They replied that they couldn't replicate the problem with the latest version, 2018. So I paid the money and got the update. After installation the problem persisted. They probably tried it with a small file. It needed to be longer than 5 pages to show the bug. I did tell them that but it seems that people at user support never read your entire message anymore. The last straw was when I went to this website
JAWS wouldn't say a word. NOT A PEEP! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Now let's see. What was the name of that free screen reader. I don't have anything to lose by trying it.
The name is NVDA and it can be downloaded from this site.
And it really is free. They do ask for donations to keep the lights on but if you can't afford it you don't have to, to get the download.
Downloading and installing programs is nothing new to me and it went as expected. Post installation required a reboot. JAWS started on reboot and so did NVDA. It was interesting to say the least with JAWS, NVDA, and the NVDA talking installer all going at once. I managed to get things sorted out and when I tried NVDA for the first time I got a big surprise. JAWS users are well accustomed to start reading by pressing the JAWS key together with the number 2 key on the number pad. (Insert + 2. Insert can be the zero key with numlock off.) When you do this with NVDA you get the message, quote, no objects inside, end quote. Huh? I might have given up at this point and I suspect that many would be NVDA users have. But I was 110% fed up with JAWS and my persistence level was high. The help files supplied with NVDA are quite good in contrast to those provided by Microsoft. I soon learned that I had to press Insert + down arrow. I can hear you saying quote, Now wait a minute, the two key is the down arrow key when numlock is off, end quote. Apparently not in the world of NVDA. This gives the developers a larger number of input keys for user interface.
I have almost formed the new habit of pressing the zero key with the third finger of my right hand and the down arrow key with the index finger. I only slip up a couple of times a day.
Something Else You Need To Change.The default when installed is for NVDA to identify table elements by row and column numbers. Many composers of email messages and web designers, myself included, use tables for format control. If you buy a lot from a given website you won't consider their email messages as spam and you will want to read them. But you will find it very annoying when that message you want to read sounds like this. Table with one column and one row. Column one row one. Out of table. Table with one column and one row. Column one row one. Out of table. Table with one column and one row. Column one row one. Out of table. Etc, etc. Fortunately there is a way to turn it off. It's a little hard to find so here are some directions. If you are a frequent user of spreadsheets you may want to leave it on or turn it off and on as needed.
1. Press NVDA key + N.
2. press down arrow to select Preferences.
3. Press right arrow to bring up the Preferences submenu.
4. The focus will be on Settings. Press Enter.
5. In the Settings dialog you will land on General 1 of 11. Press down arrow to move to Brows Mode 9 of 11.
6. Press the tab key 5 times. This should land you on Include layout Tables.
7. If the checkbox is checked press space bar to uncheck it.
8. Tab to the OK button and press space bar.
Note: The help page states that the default mode is off but when I installed it, it was on, checked.
This should get you up and running with NVDA. I'll never go back to JAWS. In fact I have uninstalled all 5 versions that were on my computer.
This page last updated Tuesday, October 16, 2018.