You are here:

Notable Improvements to the NVDA Screen Reader

On March 2, I did some investigating on a free screen reader called NVDA.  Although this screen reader has been discussed in earlier conferences and reviews, I was curious to find out if there had been any improvements to the software.

To my pleasant surprise, I found out that, Sure enough, NVDA, in the last year or so, has made significant improvements when using Microsoft word.

The most noticeable change is that the user now has the option to be able to check if there is bolding, underlining, and tab spacing in their document.  These features do also exist in other screen readers, such as Jaws and Window Eyes; however, there is a reason, which I will come back to later, as to why I am so happy that this has now been implemented in NVDA.

Another noticeable change was the amazing response to the way NVDA reacted when using commands and when typing.  I noticed that the keystrokes reacted much more quickly in comparison with other screen readers like Jaws and Window Eyes.

A Final change that I noticed is that NVDA is supporting the beta stage of the soon to be released Windows 8, which should be out in the next several months—or so they say at good old Microsoft.

NVDA is by no means a complete screen reader solution, as it lacks in the programmability to get certain applications to function like Sonar, but it does offer some exciting options to those folks who can’t afford $1000.50 to pay for a screen reader.

Remember that earlier on I stated that I would announce an exciting point about NVDA; well, there you have it, the screen reader is totally free. A user can, however, donate to the company.  Any amount will be graciously accepted.

A point to keep in mind is that Earlier on I told you that NVDA is supporting the beta stage of the soon to be released Windows 8.  There has been quite a buzz lurking over with the big giant, Microsoft.  It seems that Microsoft has, for quite some time, been very interested in joining with Screen reader venders such as Freedom Scientific and/or GW Micro.  However, up until now, these above mentioned companies have refused to join for fear of losing their status as companies that design products dedicated to the visually impaired, or perhaps it is simply a fear that Microsoft is going to take control of one of these screen reader venders, which the venders fear would result in them losing all freedom to design a more powerful product.

I personally believe that it’s a good idea for one of these venders to allow Microsoft to join forces with it, or am I envisioning a reality which may not come true at all?

Who’s to say. I myself don’t own any shares in any of these screen reader products. Nevertheless, it would be interesting if NVDA were to jump on the ship of Microsoft, just like Outspoken joined with Apple to create Voiceover.

I can clearly state that, since purchasing apple products, I’m extremely happy with Apple and the Voiceover screen reader. While Voiceover is not perfect, it definitely meets the basic needs of the everyday visually impaired individual who simply wants to browse the internet with Safari, use a word processor program like Pages, send and receive email and instant messages, and communicate with Skype.  However, that’s not all. I’ve recently discovered that Pro Tools, a commercial music software package used for recording and composing, is now accessible with Voiceover on the Mac. I’ll discuss this package in a later blog post, after I have some time to test the software myself.

Getting back to NVDA, if anyone is interested in downloading it, you can go to the following web address

Until next time, have a great week.


This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.


Hello, I have to agree with you on NVDA. I am using NVDA as my primary screen reader, and I love it, and it is a cool and powerful match, in my opinion, to jaws, and Window-Eyes. I am studdying to be a recording engineer, and I used Sonar with the CakeTalking scripts for JAWS, and basic Sonar, for Window-Eyes, and NVDA has a add on called NVDA Sonar, which I have tried, and it works but it isn't as full fledged. However, i've recently been switching to the Reaper sound editor, which has a plugin called ReaAccess. I really enjoy working with this editor, and I can use JAWS, Window-Eyes, and NVDA with this plugin. It would be nice to see NVDA put into schools, and the workforce, and be able to work with custom applications, because then it would cut back on a lot of the costs that could be used on the readers, and can allow the money to be used for other things

What is WLM?

Believe it's Windows Live Mail or Windows Live Messenger. Most likely the former.

How does NVDA work with WLM 2011?

ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.