Back in December, I wrote an article called, “2014 In Review And Predictions For 2015” in which I somewhat disingenuously predict that this will be a big year for NVDA. I say “disingenuously” not because I don’t think this is true but, rather, because I had a lot of insider knowledge about some of the things that would happen with NVDA this year well in advance of the general public so I knew that some incredibly important developments in this popular free screen reader would be available to a broader audience in the first half of 2015.
One of these exciting developments motivated this article. It’s called NVDA Remote Access and brings functionality similar to JAWS Tandem to the world of people who use NVDA, currently the number two screen reader on the Windows operating system. For the reasons I’ll describe below, please click on this link, it will bring you to an Indie Go-Go fundraising page and donate some money to the project so my good friends and business partners Christopher Toth and Tyler Spivey can gather the funding necessary to bring this truly important bit of software to the NVDA using public.
This article is considerably shorter than my normal two to three thousand words on a subject. There’s little I can say that isn’t already discussed on the NVDA Remote Access Indie Go-Go campaign page, so please visit it to learn much more about this important bit of software.
NVDA Remote Access Basics
NVDA RA allows a user with the software installed to control another user’s PC who is also running the code. The two users agree on a secret term, they both connect to the same NVDA Remote Access server, type in their secret word and are immediately connected. This permits a variety of tasks that were previously impossible, most importantly hands-on technical support and training.
In brief, people can use NVDA RA to do nearly everything one can on a local computer while hearing what NVDA is saying on the remote system. Previously, one could purchase JAWS Tandem which, including JAWS, costs more than $1200 and, if this project gets its funding, they will now have this functionality for free.
Why NVDA Remote Access Is Important
For the past few years, I’ve heard from a lot of people around the business of bringing accessible solutions to large populations. These are the people who make purchasing decisions for entire states and federal agencies as well as individuals who use screen readers who have wanted to use a remote solution for any number of reasons. Plain and simply, they agree that NVDA is the best screen reading solution for Windows but they couldn’t use it because it had no functionality like that in JAWS Tandem, hence, it was difficult to provide hands-on support and training. With NVDA Remote Access installed, this problem disappears and, while I can’t say anything too specific about these developments due to NDA, some big time installations are rethinking JAWS and will likely switch to the profoundly more cost effective NVDA in the relatively short term future.
My Experience With NVDA RA
Recently, I made the decision to return to Windows as my full time platform and I’ll only use Macintosh for a handful of very specific tasks. The combination of NVDA and the Windows OS and software like FireFox, Chicken Nugget and QRead (coincidentally also written by Toth and Spivey), Microsoft Office and a variety of other applications simply work better for me than do their analogues on Macintosh. As I haven’t used Windows much since 2008 or so and that I’d never used Windows 8 for more than a couple of hours at a time, I needed a bunch of help setting up my new laptop. I didn’t even know all of the apps and utilities I should install and Tyler jumped in to help me.
Using NVDA Remote Access, Tyler was able to install a number of apps, utilities and the like, change my settings to something I would enjoy more and perform a variety of tasks to get me up and running. On his system, he heard NVDA speaking with his chosen synthesizer at his chosen speech rate while I enjoyed using my synthesizer and speech rate on my local system. All I had to do was sit back and hit Alt+y a few times when the UAC dialogues popped up. I’ve also had the opportunity to watch Tyler help his father, a 70 year old sighted technology neophyte, do all sorts of things on his computer as well.
NVDA Remote Access is a powerful tool in its prototype state and will be a killer app when it’s fully implemented.
Yesterday, Serotek announced that users could buy a “day pass” to use their RIM (Remote Incident Manager) software for $15 per 24 hours. Instead of paying Serotek $15 for a single day, please instead send those dollars to the NVDA Remote Access Indie Go-Go campaign and participate in building a much better program built into a much better screen reader that you and everyone else who cares to can use for free forever. If my typical average hit count of readers of this blog all kick in $20, the world will have NVDA RA for free, forever.
Please send some money to the NVDA Remote Access project. This is an important big step for free screen reading solutions and will be a force in accessibility for years to come.