The 3rd update for NVDA in 2017 is a big one, and you can test out the features now with the 1st release candidate.
There is a huge list of features in this update, including a couple requested by many users. Contracted braille input is now supported, a big improvement for braille display users. These users can also now enter Unicode characters and will have a better experience while navigating many controls as more control abbreviations have been added and some verbose output streamlined.
For Windows 10 users, the new built-in OCR feature is lightning fast and recognizes text in images in about a second. Press NVDA+R to activate the feature. Perhaps this may convince some readers to finally make the jump to the latest Windows version.
Those looking for an alternative to the default eSpeak speech synthesizer may be happy to know that Windows OneCore voices are now supported. These voices made their appearance in Windows 10 and are more responsive and natural-sounding than other Microsoft speech engines.
A huge list of additional features and changes follows, and you can download the release candidate now to try it out for yourself.
What's New in NVDA 2017.3
Highlights of this release include input of contracted braille, support for new Windows OneCore voices available on Windows 10, in-built support for Windows 10 OCR, and many significant improvements regarding Braille and the web.
A Braille setting has been added to "show messages indefinitely". (#6669) In Microsoft Outlook message lists, NVDA now reports if a message is flagged. (#6374) In Microsoft PowerPoint, the exact type of a shape is now reported when editing a slide (such as triangle, circle, video or arrow), rather than just "shape". (#7111) Mathematical content (provided as MathML) is now supported in Google Chrome. (#7184) NVDA can now speak using the new Windows OneCore voices (also known as Microsoft Mobile voices) included in Windows 10. You access these by selecting Windows OneCore voices in NVDA's Synthesizer dialog. (#6159) NVDA user configuration files can now be stored in the user's local application data folder. This is enabled via a setting in the registry. See "System Wide Parameters" in the User Guide for more details. (#6812) In web browsers, NVDA now reports placeholder values for fields (specifically, aria-placeholder is now supported). (#7004) In Browse mode for Microsoft Word, it is now possible to navigate to spelling errors using quick navigation (w and shift+w). (#6942) Added support for the Date picker control found in Microsoft Outlook Appointment dialogs. (#7217) The currently selected suggestion is now reported in Windows 10 Mail to/cc fields and the Windows 10 Settings search field. (#6241) A sound is now playd to indicate the appearance of suggestions in certain search fields in Windows 10 (E.g. start screen, settings search, Windows 10 mail to/cc fields). (#6241) NVDA now automatically reports notifications in Skype for Business Desktop, such as when someone starts a conversation with you. (#7281) NVDA now automatically reports incoming chat messages while in a Skype for Business conversation. (#7286) NVDA now automatically reports notifications in Microsoft Edge, such as when a download starts. (#7281) You can now type in both contracted and uncontracted braille on a braille display with a braille keyboard. See the Braille Input section of the User Guide for details. (#2439) You can now enter Unicode braille characters from the braille keyboard on a braille display by selecting Unicode braille as the input table in Braille Settings. (#6449) Added support for the SuperBraille braille display used in Taiwan. (#7352) New braille translation tables: Danish 8 dot computer braille, Lithuanian, Persian 8 dot computer braille, Persian grade 1, Slovenian 8 dot computer braille. (#6188, #6550, #6773, #7367) Improved English (U.S.) 8 dot computer braille table, including support for bullets, the euro sign and accented letters. (#6836) NVDA can now use the OCR functionality included in Windows 10 to recognize the text of images or inaccessible applications. (#7361) The language can be set from the new Windows 10 OCR dialog in NVDA Preferences. To recognize the content of the current navigator object, press NVDA+r. See the Content Recognition section of the User Guide for further details. You can now choose what context information is shown on a braille display when an object gets focus using the new "Focus context presentation" setting in the Braille Settings dialog. (#217) For example, the "Fill display for context changes" and "Only when scrolling back" options can make working with lists and menus more efficient, since the items won't continually change their position on the display. See the section on the "Focus context presentation" setting in the User Guide for further details and examples. In Firefox and Chrome, NVDA now supports complex dynamic grids such as spreadsheets where only some of the content might be loaded or displayed (specifically, the aria-rowcount, aria-colcount, aria-rowindex and aria-colindex attributes introduced in ARIA 1.1). (#7410)
An unbound command has been added to restart NVDA on demand. You can find it in the Miscelaneous category of the Input Gestures dialog. (#6396) The keyboard layout can now be set from the NVDA Welcome dialog. (#6863) Many more control types and states have been abbreviated for braille. Landmarks have also been abbreviated. Please see "Control Type, State and Landmark Abbreviations" under Braille in the User Guide for a complete list. (#7188, #3975) Updated eSpeak NG to 1.49.1. (#7280) The output and input table lists in the Braille Settings dialog are now sorted alphabetically. (#6113) Updated liblouis braille translator to 3.2.0. (#6935) The default braille table is now Unified English Braille Code grade 1. (#6952) By default, NVDA now only shows the parts of the context information that have changed on a braille display when an object gets focus. (#217) Previously, it always showed as much context information as possible, regardless of whether you have seen the same context information before. You can revert to the old behaviour by changing the new "Focus context presentation" setting in the Braille Settings dialog to "Always fill display". When using Braille, the cursor can be configured to be a different shape when tethered to focus or review. (#7112) The NVDA logo has been updated. The updated NVDA logo is a stylised blend of the letters NVDA in white, on a solid purple background. This ensures it will be visible on any colour background, and uses the purple from the NV Access logo. (#7446)
Editable div elements in Chrome no longer have their label reported as their value while in browse mode. (#7153) Pressing end while in browse mode for an empty Microsoft Word document no longer causes a runtime error. (#7009) Browse mode is now correctly supported in Microsoft Edge where a document has been given a specific ARIA role of document. (#6998) In browse mode, you can now select or unselect to the end of the line using shift+end even when the caret is on the last character of the line. (#7157) If a dialog contains a progress bar, the dialog text is now updated in braille when the progress bar changes. This means, for example, that the remaining time can now be read in NVDA's "Downloading Update" dialog. (#6862) NVDA will now announce selection changes for certain Windows 10 combo boxes such as AutoPlay in Settings. (#6337). Pointless information is no longer announced when entering Meeting / Appointment creation dialogs in Microsoft Outlook. (#7216) Beeps for indeterminate progress bar dialogs such as the update checker only when progress bar output is configured to include beeps. (#6759) In Microsoft Excel 2003 and 2007, cells are again reported when arrowing around a worksheet. (#7243) In Windows 10 Creators Update and later, browse mode is again automatically enabled when reading emails in Windows 10 Mail. (#7289) On most braille displays with a braille keyboard, dot 7 now erases the last entered braille cell or character, and dot 8 presses the enter key. (#6054) In editable text, when moving the caret (e.g. with the cursor keys or backspace), NVDA's spoken feedback is now more accurate in many cases, particularly in Chrome and terminal applications. (#6424) The content of the Signature Editor in Microsoft Outlook 2016 can now be read. (#7253) In Java Swing applications, NVDA no longer sometimes causes the application to crash when navigating tables. (#6992) In Windows 10 Creators Update, NVDA will no longer announce toast notifications multiple times. (#7128) In The start menu in Windows 10, pressing Enter to close the start menu after a search no longer causes NVDA to announce search text. (#7370) Performing quick navigation to headings in Microsoft Edge is now significantly faster. (#7343) In Microsoft Edge, navigating in browse mode no longer skips large parts of certain web pages such as the Wordpress 2015 theme. (#7143) In Microsoft Edge, landmarks are correctly localized in languages other than English. (#7328) Braille now correctly follows the selection when selecting text beyond the width of the display. For example, if you select multiple lines with shift+downArrow, braille now shows the last line you selected. (#5770) In Firefox, NVDA no longer spuriously reports "section" several times when opening details for a tweet on twitter.com. (#5741) Table navigation commands are no longer available for layout tables in Browse Mode unless reporting of layout tables is enabled. (#7382) In Firefox and Chrome, Browse Mode table navigation commands now skip over hidden table cells. (#6652, #5655)
Changes for Developers
Timestamps in the log now include milliseconds. (#7163) NVDA must now be built with Visual Studio Community 2015. Visual Studio Express is no longer supported. (#7110) The Windows 10 Tools and SDK are now also required, which can be enabled when installing Visual Studio. See the Installed Dependencies section of the readme for additional details. Support for content recognizers such as OCR and image description tools can be easily implemented using the new contentRecog package. (#7361) The Python json package is now included in NVDA binary builds. (#3050)
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.