Windows machine with headphones next to it.

Day 40: Practice with NVDA

Today I found myself doing a lot of testing with the NVDA screen reader on PDFs at work. So, I made a diversion from my plan to code a custom modal tonight, instead to document what I was learning throughout the day.

I should note that this was not my first encounter with NVDA. It has been my go-to screen reader for testing webpages during the past year. On that note, this post does not go in-depth about all the things NVDA, but rather points out things I hadn’t spent time learning during these quick experiments I’ve done in the past.

Things I accomplished

Review of shortcuts I knew

Task Shortcut
Start reading continuously (from this point on) Insert + Down Arrow
Stop reading Ctrl
List all headings, links, and landmarks Insert + F7
Next line Down Arrow
Next character –or– Next input option (radio buttons, selection list) Right Arrow
Quit NVDA Insert + Q

What I learned today

  • I’ve only used NVDA for listening, but forget that Braille input/output is possible. NVDA supports Braille.
  • NVDA stands for NonVisual Desktop Access.
  • Control + Alt + N only works to open NVDA when a desktop shortcut has been created.
  • If you are running NVDA on a device with a touchscreen (Windows 8 or higher), you can use NVDA with touch commands.
  • Pause speech with the Shift key, as opposed to stopping speech with the Control key.
  • NVDA can navigate you to the next blockquote with the Q key.
  • NVDA has commands to read an entire open dialog (Insert + B) or just the title of the dialog (Insert + T).

On top of all these new shortcuts and tidbits, I was reminded that I am not a screen reader user. When I was trying to solve a “problem” within a remediated PDF document, I finally concluded that it wasn’t the document’s problem, but rather the way I was using NVDA as a novice screen reader user. Listening to the PDF with JAWS, which gave me the results I expected, I decided to abandon the issue I thought the document had. In doing so, I’m relying on the fact that I am not that user, and the appropriate tags given to the document would allow real screen reader users to make their own decisions while still being able to access all the content within this document.

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