Aotearoa People's Network

Software we like - NVDA

The service we provide in public libraries around the country isn't just about the PCs and other equipment we offer. It's also about the software that we install that lets library customers do useful things with that equipment. This is the first in a series of posts in which we'll highlight some of the resources that are free to use on APNK computers, and some of the ways in which people are using them.

NVDA logoNVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) is free open source software that allows vision impaired users to navigate the computing environment (specifically Microsoft Windows operating system). The software provides audio cues to the location of the cursor on the computer screen as well as a synthetic voice that reads text and menu options. When combined with a set of headphones, a PC installed with NVDA can open up the world of computing to blind and vision impaired users. Having NVDA installed means that a lack of sight doesn't also have to mean "a lack of email", "a lack of Facebook" or "a lack of word processing".

NVDA is also available in a portable version which can be carried on a USB drive and used on a number of different machines making it an incredibly useful piece of software for the vision impaired.

Our installation of NVDA on APNK computers came as the result of a suggestion from one blind customer and it is now part of our standard offering to libraries in 145 communities. It also led, in 2009, to us receiving in The Extra Touch Award from the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand.

In 2010 Keiran McNabb and Moata Tamaira of the APNK team were invited to the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities and gave a presentation on NVDA which is available online.

We'd love to see all public libraries offer this software and are happy to provide advice to libraries should they wish to install it. Please contact us or consult the links below for further information.

More on NVDA

Friday, January 27, 2012

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