What is a screen reader?
A screen reader
is a programme which reads the text on a computer screen to a
blind or visually impaired person. A
screen reader also assists people who learn more efficiently
by hearing (for
example dyslexics and speakers of other languages).
What does NVDA stand for?
NVDA stands for Non visual
desktop access. NVDA can be used both on-line and off-line.
What does it cost?
NVDA is a totally free, open source screen
reader. The project however always welcomes any donations (no matter how large or
small) to assist them to continually develop the screen
reader. The two main
developers James Teh and Michael Curran work fulltime on the
project and so estimate the project to be about $200,000 AUD
annually (to be able to continue development in a fulltime
capacity and cover overheads).
If you are in a position to donate, please do! This
screen reader has benefited more than just the blind
community. It has also given freedom to many dyslexic learners
and those who may not necessarily have been able to afford
expensive commercial screen readers, yet who have benefited
from the speech output features of NVDA. Mick and Jamie are
keen to keep the project free of cost, and so I would
encourage all those who can - to get behind this worthwhile
project - and therefore allow others to enjoy the freedom we
have experienced with NVDA.
to run the NVDA screen reader
As of NVDA version 2017.3 there will no longer be support for
older versions of Windows such as XP and Vista. The minimum
requirements will be
Windows 7, Service Pack 1 and above. Please
see the following link for more information https://www.nvaccess.org/post/nvda-2017-4-drops-support-for-older-operating-systems/
To run NVDA you will require the following:
Systems: all 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows
XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10
(including Server operating Systems). Please note: RT
versions are not supported (for example RT version are
found on some tablets, and all Windows based phones).
Windows XP 32-bit, NVDA requires Service Pack 2 or
Windows Server 2003, NVDA requires Service Pack 1 or
- Memory: 256 Mb or more of RAM.
1 GHz or above.
- About 50
MB of storage space.
The new home of the free open source NVDA
screen reader can be found at the following link http://www.nvaccess.org/
NVDA is now located on the NVaccess website (which is the non
profit organisation behind the NVDA screen reader). This
allows people to learn more about NVaccess. Please click on
this link should you wish to contact them, download a copy of
the NVDA screen reader, or simply find out more
If you would like to be
put onto an announcement email list, when you go to
download a copy of NVDA from www.nvaccess.org you will
need to put in your email address to be notified of
NVDA is realeased 4 times a year. This is usually around Feb
23rd, May 23rd, August 23rd and November 23rd if the process
goes well. Your copy of NVDA should also alert you about these
releases, as long as they don't have the "Automatically check
for updates to NVDA" box unchecked under the General settings
in NVDA. The installer copy will install over itself, whereas
this can't be done with the portable copy.
The NVDA communities main webpage has now moved to GitHub. The
page can be found at the following link https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda
statistics - daily averages
To see how many people are using
NVDA (at a days glance) please visit http://community.nvda-project.org/usersByCountry.html
for more information. The number of users given may actually
be higher than this, due to having the update feature turned
off. It may also be higher than this figure due to not having
the internet on that particular computer. Please make sure to
read right to the end of the page to get a full breakdown of
Welcome to the
NVDA community - links to other NVDA users,
articles, tutorials, bug reporting, feature
requests, testing, translating and development
The old NVDA screen reader website has also
been revamped. What would you like to do? Connect
with other NVDA users right around the world; Access articles, tutorials and demonstrations
about NVDA; Report a bug or
request a feature; Help test NVDA;
Translate NVDA into another language; or Get involved with NVDA development?
Please visit the following website at http://community.nvda-project.org/
Alternatively you can go to the new website http://www.nvaccess.org/
and look under the community link towards the bottom of the
video on the NVDA screen reader
If you are unsure what a screen reader is,
please click on the following link to listen to a promotional
video on the NVDA screen reader https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks7AwV_uxO0&feature=youtu.be
Please feel free to pass this information onto others that you
think may be interested or who may want to find out more.
To connect with the
Visit the following link to connect with the
NVDA community http://community.nvda-project.org/wiki/Connect
To join the English users' mailing list, send a blank email
with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.
For a variety of other language's communities/email
lists/forums and websites please visit the list below on that
same page entitled "Resources for Specific languages".
into your language
Have you ever thought about translating NVDA
into your own language? Visit the following link to see which
languages are currently being worked on and which ones you may
be able to assist with. You may even be able to translate a
language that has not been done yet for other people in your
country to be able to use NVDA! For more information please
visit the following link https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda/wiki/Translating
Vocalizer voices by
Nuance for use with NVDA
NV Access is very happy to announce the
availability of the Nuance Vocalizer range of voices for NVDA.
These voices, which have proven to be popular on iPhones and
the Mac, can now all be purchased for one affordable price for
use with NVDA. Whether you use NVDA installed on one computer,
or carry it around with you for access at anytime on a USB
flash drive, these performant and high-quality voices will be
there when you need them.
Purchasing Vocalizer today for 75 EUR gives you access to over
50 different voices covering more than 30 major languages.
Vocalizer can be purchased world-wide from Tiflotecnia
Lda. For each purchase 15 EUR will be donated to NV Access to
help the NVDA project continue. Purchases can also be made
through a range of local distributors, of which 10 EUR will be
donated to the project.
For more information about Vocalizer with NVDA, trial
downloads and a list of distributors, please visit https://vocalizer-nvda.com/?
To use Vocalizer, NVDA 2012.2 or higher is required. Please
to grab the latest version if you have not done so already.
SpeechHub synthesiser package (by Bill and Isaac)
There is a new synthesiser package that can
be used with NVDA. It allows different synthesiser packages to
be bundled into the one package and this in turn means you
don't have to go looking for them. The new SpeechHub package
can be found at http://www.speechhub.org
Please read the directions on how to install the package and
also acquire the SpeechHub add-on to make the package work.
News Articles from the
If you would like to read more on how NVDA
was introduced to the Aotearoa People's Network (also referred
to as the APN), please read below. The first is a news
article from when NVDA was first put onto the NZ library
network (APN). The first news article can be found at http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/stratford-press/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503390&objectid=10973253
The second news article was from when extra magnification was
put onto the network.
was originally created by
Michael Curran (in 2006) and had been constantly developed with the part
time assistance of James Teh. In February 2008 James became
a full-time developer for
the project. Mick and Jamie are both blind Australian
computer programmers, who wanted to see the screen reader
market opened up; so that a lot more people could have
accessibility, without the extraordinary costs generally
associated with such adaptive technology. Since the creation
and development of NVDA, people who require a screen reader
can now have equal access for no more than the cost of a PC.
Traditionally, people used to have to purchase a computer, add
onto that the high cost of a commercial screen reader, and any
subsequent upgrades they required. Now, it is simply a matter
of purchasing a computer and downloading and setting up the
free screen reader software. The invention of a free, open source, reliable screen reader has
opened up the doors for many
Advantages of the NVDA
- There is no limit on the amount of copies that you
can have on your computers.
- There are a variety of voices to choose from. It comes
as default with E-speak voices, but can also run SAPI 4
and SAPI 5 voices.
- You can take NVDA portable on a
USB stick, if you need to use your screen reader on another computer.
- It can be used to test out website
accessibility by both screen reader users and
- The NVDA screen reader does not time out.
- It does
not need to be activated.
- NVDA works equally well for both 32
and 64-bit Windows.
- No need to install any other drivers,
like Video Interceptors.
- No restarting needed after
- Small, compact package with both
portable and installer versions.
- It works with Windows XP home up to Windows
8, 8.1 and now Windows 10 - all platforms
(with the exclusion of Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 RT versions
which is found on some Windows tablets and all Windows
based mobile phones).
- The NVDA user guide and commands quick
reference guide have been translated into over 40
NVDA on Windows 8 devices
Please note. If you are thinking of using
NVDA on a Windows 8 device, NVDA will not work on a Windows 8
(RT) device however, NVDA will work on a Windows 8 (x86)
Please click on the following link to find out more
information about the difference between Windows 8 (x86) and
Windows 8 (RT) versions http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/windows-8-vs-windows-rt-what-s-the-difference-1086980
installing and creating hard drive, portable USB
and CD rom copies of NVDA
When you first download the new NVDA
package, those who have used NVDA before will notice some
changes. In previous versions there was an installer version
as well as a separate portable version. These have now been
combined into the one package, making it easier for the
developers to maintain.
Once the new package has been downloaded (and then clicked on
to start the setup), it will run a talking installer.
When you have agreed to the licence you will be given three
options. The first option will be to make an installer
version. (This version will be installed to your C:\ drive).
The second option will be to make a portable version.
(This is where you can put it onto a USB stick or a CD).
The third option will be to run a temporary copy of NVDA
(either to give it a whirl or to demonstrate it as a demo
without installing anything).
In most cases when you are installing NVDA for the first time,
you will just install a hard drive copy (also known as an
installer copy) to the C:\ drive.
At a later date, if you have installed the installer version,
you can always make a portable version from this. This
option can be found under the preferences/tools menu. You will
be looking for a menu called create portable copy, then it
will be a matter of following the directions to make one.
You can also (from that portable copy) either install a copy
to the C:\ drive (this will be the installer version) or make
another portable version. Most people will use the installer
version (which will give you UAC privileges as well - which
Windows now uses in Windows 7).
Both of these options are found under the preferences/tools
section within NVDA portable. The two options available are
called: Create portable copy and Install NVDA.
To create a
portable version of NVDA from the installer version
for a USB stick
If you have already installed NVDA to your
C:\ drive and would like to make a portable copy for a USB
stick, there are 2 ways you can do it. Under the
preferences/tools section within NVDA, locate the menu that
says create portable copy, and press enter. The next screen
that comes up will let you browse for an area to create the
portable copy in. The easiest way is either to put a copy onto
your C:\ drive, or to put a copy onto your USB stick.
To put a copy onto your C:\ find the browse button and press
enter. Once you have located your C:\ create a new folder and
rename it NVDA. Once this has been done, follow the directions
until the contents are installed into that directory. When you
look at it (at a later date on your C:\) it should look like
this (for example) C:\nvda To put a copy onto your USB
stick, insert the USB stick and it should be assigned a letter
(for example E:\). Next, go back to the C: and locate your
NVDA folder and copy and paste it onto your USB stick. When
you look at it (at a later date on your E:\) it should look
like this (for example) E:\nvda if there are no other files or
folders on that USB stick. If you do plan to have other files
and folders on your USB stick, put them into a folder on that
stick called useful stuff or some other easily identifiable
name. Do not use any other folders or files starting with the
letter N (so that when you go to open the USB stick, you will
be able to press N and it will only look at the NVDA folder).
Having other files or folders starting with the letter N will
make it look at them first. Finally, unplug the USB stick and
plug it back into a USB hole. An autorun menu should come up
giving you some options. Press the letter O to open the
folder, press enter, then press the letter N to find the NVDA
directory and press enter again. Press the letter N again and
it should find the nvda.exe file and NVDA should start up.
The second option is to copy it straight to the USB stick. To
do this, under the preferences/tools section within NVDA,
locate the menu that says create portable copy and press
enter. Locate the browse button, press enter, and locate your
USB stick drive letter (for example this may be E:\). Once you
have located your USB drive, create a new folder, rename it
NVDA, press enter and follow the directions on how to install
it to your USB stick. Once this has been done, unplug your USB
stick and plug it back into a USB hole. An autorun menu should
come up giving you some options. Press the letter O to open
the folder, press enter, then press the letter N to find the
NVDA directory and press enter again. Press the letter N again
and it should find the nvda.exe file and NVDA should start up.
To create a
portable version of NVDA to put onto a CD
The easiest way to do this, is to create a
directory on your C:\ and call it nvda portable copy for a CD
(or something similar to that effect). In this directory, will
go the NVDA folder (with all of its contents) and an
autorun.inf file. Repeat the same process to make a portable
copy (from either the installer version or the portable
version). Having it named something easy to find (such as
mentioned above) will make it easier to locate.
Under the preferences\tools menu, locate the create portable
copy menu and press enter. On the next screen that comes up,
locate the browse button. If you had made a directory
beforehand on the C:\ (and called it for example portable copy
for a CD), this will make it easier to find on your C:\ drive.
It doesn't have to be called this, it just needs to be easy to
find on the C:\ drive. Once you have located it, create
a new folder, rename it nvda, and then follow the instructions
to have it install all of the contents into that folder.
The next thing you will have to do, is put the autorun.inf
file into the root directory (that was created beforehand).
The autorun file can be found at https://dl.dropbox.com/u/64177841/autorun.rar
You will need to unzip it and move it into the directory you
made earlier (for example a folder called portable copy for a
CD). There should be a folder called nvda, and a file called
autorun.inf (Please note: DO NOT put the autorun.inf
file into the nvda folder otherwise it will not work.
Highlight both the NVDA folder and the autorun.inf file and
send them to your cd/dvd burner. Follow the directions to burn
them onto a CD. You will need to be familiar with your burning
software to do this. Once it has been created and spits out
the disk, it should just be a matter of putting the CD back
into the CD/DVD burner rom. Give it a few seconds to load up,
and NVDA should start talking. Once the file and folder have
been burnt onto a CD, changes can not be made, so check your
preferences and settings beforehand so that they are to your
If you would like NVDA to start up
automatically from a CD, you will need to follow these
directions for it to work.
How to start
the new NVDA package from a CD
(Please note that the autorun file
for this package is different to the autorun file for
making a portable copy on CD)
If you would like to hear an audio version
of making this CD, please visit the the NVDA audio tutorials
page. There, you can also hear other audio tutorials on the
basics of using NVDA.
- Make a directory (or some people call
it a folder) on your PC. Call it something easy to
remember. For example, if you make the directory off the
c:\ drive name it something easy to remember like... the
new NVDA package CD (or whatever you want to call it).
- Download the latest version of NVDA
(which at present is the 2012.3.1 release) and put that
into the new directory you have just made. Click on it to
set it up. An open file security warning should appear,
giving you some information about the file (such as
filename, publisher, file type etcetera). You should hear
"do you want to run this file"? Untick the box that says
"always ask before opening this file" and then click on
Run. The next screen that comes up should be the agreement
screen. Agree to the licence, tab through to install and
then close it without installing anything so it remembers
- Download the new NVDA package autorun
file from https://dl.dropbox.com/u/64177841/autorun%20nvda%20package.rar.
It will need to be unrarred, so you can see the
autorun.inf file and put that into your new directory (the
one you made beforehand).
- Now you should see 2 files in the
folder you have made, one being the nvda_2012.3.1 file and
the other being the autorun.inf file.
- Highlight the 2 files, then send them
to your DVD burner. Follow the onscreen directions that
appear before you to the end. When the CD has been burned
it should pop out of the drive (depending on how your
settings are set).
- Put the CD back in and it should
automatically start. The first screen you will see is an
agreement screen, and once agreed to it will then give you
3 options: 1 to install to your PC a copy of NVDA, 2 to
make a portable copy or 3 to run as a temporary copy.
The page can be found at http://homepages.slingshot.co.nz/~hurrikenny/nvda%20audio%20tutorials.html
version number of NVDA so your file can still
autorun using the above package
If you would like the autorun.inf file to work with the 2013.1
release and beyond, you will need to open the autorun.inf file
with notepad and make a small change (that is you will need to
change the version number) so it works in later versions.
Remember to save it once changed.
For example, if you are running version 2012.3.1 and you
update to 2013.1 when it comes out, where it says:
Simply change the version number... That is, change 2012.3.1
to 2013.1 and leave the rest the same!
It should now look something like this:
In this example we have only used the stable release versions.
Hard drive shortcut
NVDA will create its own shortcut to your hard drive
version of NVDA - on your computer's desktop.
USB drive shortcut
The portable versions of NVDA do not automatically have a
shortcut created - you will need to create these yourself.
(You will need to create a shortcut to whichever folder
you have unzipped the portable NVDA contents into). This
may be on your hard drive (as a backup in case the hard
drive version stops working for any reason), or on the USB
1 Drop a copy
of the portable NVDA version onto your computer, and
make a shortcut on your desktop
(Right click on your desktop... and click on new... shortcut... browse...(this will
give you the option to browse for the file you want to
create the shortcut for)... select the file (For example
C:\NVDA\nvda.exe) and click ok... next...
Type a name for this shortcut (for example nvda portable)
and select finish...
(this will create the shortcut). If you want to start it
with a hot key, property the shortcut and assign a hot key
combination that you will remember (Eg. Alt + Ctrl + P).
2 Create a
shortcut on the USB drive itself
Once you have extracted the files onto your USB stick, and
set up NVDA, you can have a shortcut directly on the
portable drive itself. To do this, use the following
Put the USB drive into your USB port... click on open folder to view files...
Alt (which will
select your file menu)... new... shortcut...
tab to browse
(and select the file you want to create the shortcut for.
(You will need to know the drive letter for your USB
stick.) Browse to your USB drive... and go to the NVDA
folder (Eg. J:\NVDA) and you are looking for the NVDA.exe
file within that folder (Eg. J:\NVDA\nvda.exe). Once you have located
this file, tab to ok...
tab to next (to
continue)...It will then ask for a name for your shortcut.
(For example name it nvda
or whatever you wish to call it).
The shortcut key can start with any letter, but do not
have another file or folder on that stick starting with
that same letter. For example, if your shortcut key is S
(for start NVDA) then make sure there is no other file or
folder on that stick starting with S. At the moment I use
O (to open the folder) and N to start it! I like it this
way because all I have have to remember is O N.
More free speech
synthesisers for NVDA
comes with the E-speak voices by default, but you can
also download some other voices to test them out if
you would like to do so. The advantage to using the
E-speak, pico and festival voices, is that they can go
portable! Not all voice synthesisers can go portable
on a USB stick. Please click on the links below should
you wish to try some of them out.
- Lernout & Hauspie,
Microsoft, Realspeak and UkrVox voices http://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm
(This is also the website where you can download
the free text to speech program called Balabolka.
You can convert your text into mp3 and have it
read back to you).
Using NVDA on a USB
Once the portable version of NVDA has been
set up on your USB stick, it is simply a matter of unplugging
your usb stick and plugging it back into your pc. If you have
set it up previously then simply plug it in. If the autoplay
menu comes up, press the letter O (to open the folder), enter, N (for the shortcut key),
and then press enter again. NVDA should just start up.
This will not work if there is no autoplay menu there, because
it may be disabled for security reasons. (The autoplay menu is
the menu that appears when you insert a CD rom - and it gives
you options such as play, open folder to view files and so
to start NVDA from a portable USB stick
There is an alternative to starting NVDA on
a USB stick (instead of using a shortcut on the USB stick). It
is using a batch file to start NVDA. It is easiest to start
with a new USB stick, so there are no files on it. When NVDA
is running, insert the USB stick and see what letter is
assigned? For example e:\ Once you know, the next step is
press the Escape key to make the autorun menu disappear.
Open up the preferences menu in NVDA (this is done by pressing
the insert key and the letter N). Once open, arrow down to
tools, where a submenu will come up, arrow down to create
portable copy and press Enter. Locate the browse button, and
press Enter, then locate your USB stick. For example e:\ Once
there, create a new directory called nvda, press Enter and
this directory should be created for you. Follow the
directions to the end so the files are automatically installed
into that directory. Next download the start nvda.bat file
You will need to unrar the file so you can see a file called
Once done, copy this file to your USB stick. Make sure you
don't put it into any folders, so the file should just be in
the root directory. When you look at the USB stick there
should be a folder called NVDA and a start nvda.bat file.
Next, unplug the USB stick and then reinsert the USB stick
into the computer. The autorun menu should come up. When it
does, press the letter O (to open the folder), then press
enter. You should then see those 2 items mentioned before (the
start nvda.bat file and the nvda directory). Press the letter
S to start nvda, and then press Enter and NVDA should start.
The start nvda.bat file can also be renamed to nvda.bat.
Instead of pressing O and then S, you could press O and then
N. (The letters O and N spelling the word "on" may be easier
to remember). Either way should work if set up properly.
Please note: If the autorun.inf file is used, it can only be
used with a CD! If the start nvda.bat file is used, it can
only be used with a USB device! Please make sure that you
follow the directions for the appropriate device to ensure
they work properly.
Setting your NVDA
To get into the preferences (where you can make changes to
NVDA), press the insert
key and the N key.
This will bring up the preferences where you can make
adjustments to your liking. You will need to save your
changes. This will remember it for next time. When you have
finished using NVDA, press the insert key and the Q key and NVDA will be turned off.
When you download a major release of NVDA from
the downloads section, it is what they call a stable release.
These will have a signed certificate name for example 2013.2,
and they are the stable releases that the public will use.
between these stable releases, are experimental
releases called development snapshots.
Think of a camera taking pictures of a building being built.
Each snapshot shows a stage of development of the building
process. The NVDA snapshots show a stage by stage time-line of
the screen reader's development on a particular day.
These are done (usually daily) and uploaded nightly to the
server. These snapshots are what is called "experimental code".
They are usually quite stable, but at times can be quite
buggy, or may not even work at times. They are for
trying out new ideas, bug fixing and so on. They are like your
alpha and beta releases of software. These are usually
used for testing purposes. As the code improves, it will go
from alpha to beta (at snapshot stage) and to a release
candidate (just before the official stable release stage). To
get a better idea of what has been done in each snapshot, if
you look under the time-line
link, it will tell you what has been done for that day.
There may have been new
tickets made (for
errors that were found) or old tickets closed (for errors that were fixed). It varies from day
People usually ask when the next
of NVDA will be. From past history, it is
usually quarterly (around Feb 23rd, May 23rd, Aug 23rd and Nov
23rd of each year) if the release process goes well. It
depends what comes up before the release. This information is
put onto the main NVDA homepage - letting people know what
stage they are up to before the final release. (The beta
release, release candidate and stable version are all
advertised on the homepage before the official release).
Once all of the tickets have been done, and reached 100
percent, then they will do the beta releases, then the release
candidate, then the stable release which the public will use.
(For example when all the
tickets for 2013.1 are completed, then work begins on the 2013.2
release and so on). The beta and release candidates
must be stable as well.
When an official major
release is made of a version of NVDA, the process starts all over again,
and the next version's features and improvements are worked
on. As with any successful computer programme, development is
essential to ensure it works with newer programmes on the
market, and it is a matter of continuous feedback and development.
Click on the following link to discover more in-depth
information about NVDA development for the release
Joining the NVDA
- If you are new to NVDA and would like
to join a community, it can be found under the community
link on the main page. For a newbie, after you have read
the user manual and have further questions to ask, it is
wise to join the NVDA support
- If you would like to talk about NVDA
and ask other questions, and if you are more advanced,
please join the nvda free-lists.
There are plenty to choose from there.
- If you are a developer and would like
to find out more about the NVDA screen reader development,
please check under the developers
link. There is also a developers list you can join
- There may be many different ways you
can help out in this area (for example, translating it
into different languages, testing it out, promoting it in
your local area and so on).
following are some shortcut keys and tips to help
you get started with NVDA
are running the hard drive version on your desktop:
are running NVDA on a laptop, you may need to set the
keyboard settings to that by doing the following:
- Alt + Ctrl + N
will start up NVDA.
+ N ... preferences
will take you into a menu where you can make changes
to your liking such as: voice settings, document
formatting and so on.
+ N ... help
will take you into your help section where you will
find things such as the user guide, a keyboard command
quick reference and a what's new segment.
+ N ... save
configuration... will save the settings that
you have just changed in your NVDA.
+ Q ... closes the programme.
Regardless of whether you are using NVDA
on a desktop or laptop, it is helpful to read the help
files first which will make screen reader navigation much
+ N...preferences...keyboard settings...
(and using the drop down box) select laptop. Some
netbooks do not have a full 101 qwerty keyboard and
need to be set to laptop rather than desktop. If
however you add a USB keyboard to your netbook then
you can change the setting back to desktop. This
really depends on how you enter text into your
If the computer you are going to use, doesn't come up with
the autorun dialog, when your CD or USB stick is inserted,
you can do the following to make it load.
Press the Windows key and the letter R to bring up the run
dialog. Type in (as an example, if the letter has
been assigned to e: drive) e:\nvda\nvda.exe then
press the Enter key, and NVDA will start. If it
doesn't, another letter may have been assigned to
it. The path will still be the same apart from the
drive letter assigned. For example J:\nvda.nvda.exe