GTT National Conference Call
November 9, 2016.
Screen readers being used by people on the call.
• JAWS, ranging from Version 13 to 17, paid only with time limited trials available.
• Window Eyes, free, trial and paid versions available.
• System Access, free, trial and paid versions available.
• NVDA, free with a suggested $30 donation.
• Dolphin Guide, paid only with a free 30-day trial.
• Many people are using windows 7, a few windows 8.1 and some windows 10 with one person still on xp but looking to change.
• One person is using ZoomText Magnifier/Reader but changing to NVDA.
Brainstorming specific questions:
Someone was trying to convert PDFs received by email into word documents without a scan and read program.
There are three main blindness specific scanning programs, and one that isn’t specific to blindness. There are also free web sites available to convert PDF files to text documents, and two of the screen readers discussed this night are able to convert PDF files to text on the fly.
• ABBYY FineReader, which is not a blindness specific program, however that is being used successfully by screen reader and magnification users.
• Kurzweil 1000, which is aimed at the blind market has been around a long time, and is used almost exclusively in the school and post-secondary systems. This program is available for the PC, and its sister program, Kurzweil 3000 is aimed at the Learning Disability sector on both the Mac and PC platforms.
• Openbook is also blindness specific and is a product of Freedom Scientific. It is only available for the PC platform.
• DocuScan plus is a blindness specific program and is created by Serotek, the makers of System Access. It is a stand-alone scan and read program that is self-voicing, and available for both the PC and Mac platforms.
DocuScan plus by Serotek appears to be the least expensive of the known scan and read software and is very easy to use.
Someone said that they try to read a PDF using Acrobat Reader and it says converting but then the screen reader says empty document.
This may be because the file has been scanned as an image and not converted for OCR. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition, and you can learn more here. When someone is setting up their scanner they need to check the box which says check OCR so that it creates PDF files that will be readable by screen readers.
When a document has been scanned as an image file or when PDF files are received by email, programs like ABBYY FineReader, Kurzweil, Openbook and DocuScan can convert them to text based files electronically.
Also, sometimes iDevices read pdf’s that computers can’t access easily.
• The VoiceDreamReader app is good at converting and reading PDFs.
• The KNFB Reader iPhone app can also convert PDF files to text.
There is an OCR add-on that you can download from Freedom Scientific called, Convenient OCR. It is built into the latest versions of JAWS.
To OCR a document with JAWS, do the following:
1. Press jaws key plus the space bar
2. Press O for OCR then D for entire document.
3. Once converted to readable text one may select all or some of the text for pasting into an MS Word document. See more details by accessing the above link.
NVDA also has an OCR Add-on for converting PDFs to readable text. Download it by accessing the above link.
There are web sites that are free to convert PDF and other formatted files too many text based editable formats. One of them is, PDF to Text, and it can be found here. Narrator.
• In Windows 10 you can do more with narrator. You can move around your screen with it. It is not as robust as the above noted screen readers, however you can use narrator for the built in Live Mail and Edge Browser programs for Windows 10.
• You can use narrator to get to a website say to set up NVDA. Edge and Windows Live Mail are very inaccessible with any other screen reader.
• Narrator is not a full-fledged screen reader yet but people are encouraged to try it with Windows 10.
• It is free.
It was pointed out that if you’re looking for download links to free software like NVDA, try typing in your Google Search NVDA Screen Reader Download or Thunderbird Download and it will usually take you right to the downloads page. Also, Google searches that start with “How do I…” will almost always get you good and helpful results.
Someone asked what version of JAWS is needed in order to run Windows 10? It is JAWS 16 or higher.
NVDA updates are always free and the software is free unless you buy the Eloquence Synthesizer voices which is around 80 dollars Canadian.
Once you have purchased the System Access screen reader, all updates are free, and it does work with Windows 10.
*Note: if your needs are being met with Windows 7 or 8.1 you don’t have to move to Windows 10. Those two operating systems will be supported by Microsoft for several years yet. However, if you are upgrading from Windows XP or Vista it might be worth your while to embark on a Windows 10 upgrade as you will be entering a significant learning curve anyway.
NVDA is a great screen reader developed by two people who are blind and they are updating all the time. This program is open source so some workplaces may not let you install or use it.
Many of the key strokes are very similar between NVDA and JAWS.
Trouble-shooting and training apps:
• JAWS offers a built-in training and trouble-shooting utility called Tandem which allows someone helping you to access your computer provided both are running JAWS.
• NVDA has a similar program called NVDA Remote.• TeamViewer is another utility that can be used for trouble-shooting and training that is not screen reader specific. Difference between screen readers on the PC and mac?
• The Mac has only one choice for screen reader. It is called VoiceOver and is built-in. It is available on all Macs and you do not need to buy it separately.
• All the native Mac apps, (Mail, Web Browser, Spreadsheet, iTunes, Notes, Word Processing work well with VoiceOver.
• It has good high quality voices.
• The way you use this screen reader is very different than on the PC so there is a learning curve.
• There are good books through National braille press, as well as guides and podcasts through AppleVis.com and many resources to help you with the Mac and other iDevices.
• If you use other iDevices, your content will sync well between them and the Mac.
• The Track Pad on the Mac lets you do many gestures which are the same as those you use with your iPhone.
• If you have a friend with a mac and you want to try it out, hold down the Command Key and type F5 to toggle it on and off. The Command Key is known as the Alt Key on a PC, and is found to the left and right of the Space Bar.
• When you launch VoiceOver on the Mac, you are asked if you want to run the VoiceOver Tutorial, which helps you learn the basic keyboard commands.
• One other advantage is that you can run a copy of Windows on your Mac with NVDA. So, you can have both systems running on one computer. You might only want to do this if you love technology however.
• If you have questions about the Mac, Kim Kilpatrick uses it almost exclusively and can talk to you about the pros and cons.
• Mac computers are more expensive than many laptops but they are good quality.
What resources are out there for learning screen readers?
There are many good free and paid resources for learning to use your products and screen readers.
Often if users are having trouble, it is because they have not taken the time to set up the machine for maximum benefit from screen readers, or they haven’t learned enough about how to access the computer with their screen reading software.
• CathyAnne Murtha textbooks are very good and highly recommended.• NVDA has put out a very good manual for learning how to use it and someone said it is one of the best manuals he has seen. The cost for it is 30 dollars Australian and it can be found on the NVDA web site.
• There are many other useful things on the NVDA Web Site including some tutorials, downloads of the software etc.
• Serotek also has good materials for learning the screen reader and the programs it supports.Disability Answer/Support Desk:
The below free technical support hotlines are reserved for screen reader, magnification, hearing or physical disability software users. All reports are that the people working these hotlines are quick, respectful, expert and friendly.
Someone was having an issue getting iCloud Mail running on the PC or on Android. No answers came out of the group gathered this night, so it was suggested that he call the Apple Accessibility Support number:
For all troublesome matters related to screen reader or magnification users and the Microsoft Operating System or MS Office products, the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk number is:
It was suggested you could use two different email programs on the PC. Say Outlook for Gmail and Thunderbird for iCloud.
It was pointed out that Thunderbird is a good email program and is recommended by those developing NVDA, but there can be a few problems such as not landing directly in your inbox.
The Edge Web Browser does not work well in Windows 10 but you can use Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer.
Next meeting, December 14, all about Streaming Services.
Kim Kilpatrick and Albert Ruel