Follow-up: The Switch to NVDA Isn't so Bad

Just as a follow-up to my previous post, my switch to NVDA has actually gone a lot more smoothly than I thought. Many keystrokes of NVDA mirror Jaws' keystrokes, with the exception of a few less common ones, such as "pass next keystroke to application." In Jaws, I pressed insert+2 to signal that the screen reader should not intercept the following button press, where as in NVDA, I now have to hit insert+F2. There are a few commands that I can't find the NVDA equivalent to, such as control+alt+home or control+alt+end will jump to the upper-left and bottom-right cell of a table respectively in Jaws.

NVDA does address a lot of my complaints from my last post. When working in VMware Workstation, I still haven't spent the time to script NVDA to do exactly what I want it to do without me having to give it commands, but pressing insert+shift+s will put NVDA to sleep, meaning that it won't interfere with any keystrokes until I send that command again. This is significantly faster than shutting down the entire screen reader, and restarting it when I try to do something else. Considering how little effort it takes to hit three buttons, I'm more than happy to live with this for now.

There are also other benefits to NVDA, such as it seems to work a bit better with the Firefox browser. For example, the "notifications" and "requests" links on Facebook are visible to NVDA while Jaws couldn't seem to find them. Since NVDA is open source as I mentioned in my last post, I've been able to jump directly into the NVDA code to understand what it's doing, and even manually edit its configuration files to tune it exactly how I want it to work.

Anyway, since that day, I pretty much haven't gone to Jaws at all. In fact, on a new laptop that I was setting up, it was very nice to have the ability to create a portable copy of NVDA based on all of my settings on my main laptop, copying it to a thumb drive, and just plugging that into the new laptop to get a screen reader without any fuss. I'll definitely post to the blog if I encounter any significant problems with NVDA, but so far, I have no intention of renewing my Jaws SMA ever again.

Sean