Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free full function screen reader for Windows XP through Windows 8. It is a good substitute for JAWS. NVDA works with most popular applications like Word, Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and will now read in PowerPoint. NVDA also provides touch gestures for touch screen laptops using Windows 8.
Even with these features students that need to use a screen reader for academic and professional use are better served by acquiring a more feature rich product like JAWS. This is because JAWS performs better with professional applications. NVDA is great for situations where JAWS is not affordable or for installing quickly on computers to read documents, surf the internet, or check e-mail.
The links below give access to the homepage and download pages for NVDA. On the Download page they request a donation to support the project. If you are planning to use NVDA long-term this is recommended because it supports a great cause. If you do not wish to donate at first select the Skip Donation This Time link.
NVDA uses many of the same hotkeys as JAWS. The Insert key or the Caps Lock can be used as the NVDA key just like JAWS. The dialogs for program configuration and web navigation differ, but are still intuitive. To access configuration and help press NVDA+N (Usually Insert+N). The default synthesizer is at times difficult to understand. you can use SAPI voices in Windows by selecting them in the Synthesizer dialog under Preferences in the NVDA menu. If you want the configuration changes to save select Save Configuration from the NVDA menu.
If any of our students or staff need additional assistance using NVDA screen reader they may setup an appointment with the Assistive Technology Specialist at 216-687-2015.