In January, I think it was, a CD ROM turned up in my snail mailbox that contained jaws 2019. I put it on the shelf thinking I was threw with jaws. With the passage of time some of the little things and one big thing about N V D A started to get on my nerves. In March I decided to reinstall jaws and found that it was basically unchanged from the jaws I had developed a love hate relationship with during almost 30 years of togetherness. I will examine the pros and cons of each program below.
N V D A.N V D A has its own problems. But first the positives. It is much less likely to go on strike as jaws frequently does. If N V D A seems unwilling to talk pressing Alt Tab will restore its willingness to work. If you have more than one program running that will switch you to another program. When you press it again to bring back the original program N V D A will be quite talkative. But even if you have only one program running the Alt Tab key combo will get N V D A back on the job.
It does wonders with PDF files. They had always been the bane of my life until N V D A came along. Web pages and email messages always inspire N V D A to talk. Jaws always needs some urging and sometimes flat out refuses to say a word.
Not Spam.I regularly get emails from electronic parts suppliers. This is not spam to me because I always read them over and sometimes order something that is on sale that day. Jaws does a pretty poor job on these messages. Perhaps it's the formatting. After reinstalling I gave it one of these messages to read. It read the first item 3 times and then went on strike. N V D A eats these messages up and spits out the words only once and in order.
N V D A has two features that I like very much because I can see just a little. Note: if I remember correctly the totally blind make up a minority of those classified as legally blind. End of note. One is the hover feature. When the mouse hovers over a paragraph N V D A reads it. It isn't perfect, it stalls out if there is a link in it. If you move the mouse and hover over the link it will read it but if a line break appears in the middle of the link reading will stop at the break and the rest will not be read. Other than that it's perfectly normal. The other feature is a beeping locator for the mouse cursor. This is something that I have imagined and wished for since the first day I put my hand on a mouse. The pitch goes up and down as the cursor moves up and down the screen. The stereo location of the beep moves right and left as the cursor is moved right and left. It can get annoying. I wish there was a way to lower the volume of the beeps while leaving the speech volume unchanged.
N V D A does well for web browsing and reading emails. The hover feature is especially useful for checking the sender and subject of messages without opening the body of the message. Spam goes into the deleted items folder much more quickly than before.
Another thing I like about N V D A is the little buzzing sound that it gives whenever a word has been labeled as a spelling error. I don't have to wait until I run spell checker to find out what words I have forgotten how to spell.
I don't like using N V D A to proof read my own webpages as I develop them. Unlike jaws N V D A does not scroll the page as it reads it. If I were a total this would not matter to me but I'm not so it does. N V D A has other problems as well.
Not the least of which are some strange abbreviations built into the speech synthesizers they have borrowed from Windows. For example if you are typing a recipe and you type "1/4 cup of sugar, you may be dismayed when it reads back as 1/4 Cuban Paso of sugar. Another involves the common word as. I haven't figured out what triggers this but sometimes as is rendered as American Samoa. Although n v d a has a dictionary same as jaws entering cup into it will not prevent this oddity of speech. Another speech impediment is mispronouncing plurals. For example the word files comes out file s. Almost all words ending in es are pronounced this way.
In addition the programmers have made it much too talkative. For example when you call up the files excuse me the file s menu in word n v d a intones you haven't opened any files lately. This was no surprise the first time I ran word after installing N V D A . but it continues several months after beginning to use it. Also it says recent documents before saying the name of each file.
Probably the worst thing and the reason I reinstalled jaws is the slowness of character echo in n v d a. I am typing this text in word with jaws running and I can't type fast enough to leave jaws behind. When n v d a is running my normal typing speed leaves n v d a so totally flummoxed that it remains silent until I pause to think of what to type next and it says the last character I typed. It gets even slower when numbers are being typed. Changing to word echo does no better. It finally gets around to speaking the word as I type the second letter of the next word. This delayed feedback leaves me totally flummoxed.
The Eloquence speech synthesizer that is used in jaws is available for N V D A. I'm sure it will solve the mispronunciations that I have noted. I don't know if it will solve the typing echo speed problem. To find out I'll have to pay the money.
JAWS.While it is sometimes difficult to get jaws started talking, once it starts it has an annoying tendency to repeat. This goes back to the earliest versions of jaws. You would think they could have fixed it by now. Jaws has never been on speaking terms with PDF files let alone being friendly. There were times when I came close to throwing my computer on the floor and putting my foot through it. My sighted friends never understood how frustrating PDF files were for me.
I think jaws developers have spent a lot of time and effort on making it work well with Word. Except for the control A bug. I develop my pages in word, that's right, typing html by hand, and saving them as doc files with jaws running. Then I copy and paste them into a program called CuteHTML which does some error checking. I wish it did more but it is what it is. After saving them as HTML I look at them with three different browsers. I proof read the page with jaws because it scrolls the page and marks the reading point with green highlights of the text. That's about all I use jaws for but it is a large fraction of the time I spend in front of my computer.
When I boot up neither program starts. I start which ever one I need at the time. I use N V D A for reading other people's webpages. And all email messages.
Anyone who has ever used jaws knows the cost associated with it. N V D A is free. When you download it they do ask for a contribution from those who can afford it. I can so I did. But for those who can't afford to contribute the program is really free. You are not pestered by email or popups generated by the program. Also the help screens are really helpful unlike those produced by Microsoft.
For those who can afford it jaws is good for some things. But N V D A is usable if it's all you can afford.
Post Script. Yes, as in P. S.Just now I tried to proof read this very page with jaws. It seemed to be totally puzzled by the simplest of html coding. When I pressed the read all key combination the screen started scrolling and continued doing so until the bottom of the page was reached. Jaws remained absolutely silent and nothing I did could get it started talking. Closing and reopening jaws did no good whatsoever. I finally closed jaws, opened N V D A and proofed the page with it. Now do you understand why I am so damned frustrated with this piece of shit called jaws. Maybe it should be called asshole.