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How a freebee screen reader rescues the most expensive on the market

November 30, 2011

Do you rely on a screen reader to use your computer? If yes you’ll know how bad it is when an application crashes and brings down your speech feedback with it.

If you’ve no idea what it’s like then just think ‘blue screen of death’ and it’s the same thing, except you don’t hear any ‘blue’ when the screen reader goes down!

Many people use the JAWS screen reader software package which now costs a lot more than a decent laptop. Debates about that are for another place and another time…

In my experience JAWS –for all it’s full featuredness– crashes a lot, two to three times a day is quite typical for me at the moment, and a crash used to mean a hard restart not only of the computer, but my thought process, the latter much harder than the former!

I’ve discovered a way to get myself out of trouble when the above happens, in the form of a totally free screen reader!

So what’s special about the way I’m combining the freebee NVDA with the costly JAWS package?

It’s not special really just a creative way of using one screen reader when the other one stops working, to re-gain control.

Today is a good example, I totally and unexpectedly lost all speech feedback when working with Outlook 2003 (again). Soon as I realised I had no speech at all, I used windows key + m (to make the Desktop the focus) and then pressed a little keyboard shortcut combo (which I set up to NVDA) and up came speech feedback…

Hearing what is happening on-screen again I am able to do the necessary to shut down whatever is upsetting the computer, mainly this is just switching windows to find and close the offending program dialogue box if there is one, or close JAWS or use the Task manager to check status and force any unresponding programs to shut down. Then re-start them again.

It’s just great to discover that I can use a combination of NVDA and JAWS in this way. It enables me to maintain a much better level of concentration and focused work.

I recommend people try NVDA out and donate to it to keep the amazing project alive.


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