The Most User-friendly Screen Reader: How to Download, Install, and Use NVDA

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In a previous article titled “Introduction to Screen Readers – Fundamentals of Accessibility in the Digital World”, we have discussed what screen readers are and why they are important. Now, let us talk about how screen readers are structured and how to install your first screen reader – NVDA.

It is important to remember that screen readers consist of two key components: the screen reader window (main menu) and speech synthesizer (which converts text into speech). Using a specialized API, the screen reader reads keyboard and mouse actions, helping the user navigate between elements on the screen, web pages, or within a specific program.

NVDA is a free screen reader that allows the user to interact with the Windows operating system and its various applications.

DOWNLOAD

Before proceeding, make sure that you are using an official source to download the NVDA installation files. Visit the official website (https://www.nvaccess.org/) and go to the download page.

On the download page, you will find a list of available NVDA versions. Choose the most appropriate version based on your operating system.

After selecting the suitable NVDA version, click on the “Download” button to initiate the download. In the pop-up window, choose the destination folder for saving the file and click “OK” or “Save.”

Once the installation file is fully downloaded, you will be ready to proceed to the next step – installing NVDA.

INSTALLATION

After successfully downloading the NVDA installation file, we can proceed with the installation process.

Locate the previously downloaded NVDA installation file on your computer and double-click it. This will initiate the installation process. Wait for the melody to play and the speech synthesis to start.

Read through the NVDA program’s license agreement, and if you agree with the terms – use the “Tab” key to navigate to the “I Agree” option and select it by pressing the “Space” key. Now move to the “Install NVDA on this computer” button and activate it with the “Space” key once again. Without accepting the license agreement, you will not be able to proceed with the installation.

During the startup options selection, NVDA offers us a couple of settings that you can enable.

  1. “Use NVDA on the Windows logon screen” allows you to use NVDA on the Windows logon screen to, for instance, select an account or enter your login credentials;
  2. “Create a desktop shortcut and assign hotkeys for launching (Ctrl + Alt + N)” lets you set up hotkeys for quickly launching NVDA when needed. Whenever you press the specified key combination, NVDA will start, and its screen-reading functionality will be activated.

I usually turn off “Use NVDA on the Windows logon screen” and leave “Create a desktop shortcut and assign hotkeys for launching (Ctrl + Alt + N)” enabled.

Next, proceed to the “Continue” button and activate it. Wait for the installation to complete. This might take some time depending on your computer’s configuration.

COMPLETION

Upon completing the installation, you will receive a notification indicating that NVDA has been successfully installed on your computer. After the installation is finished, press the “OK” button to launch the freshly installed version of NVDA and start using it.

We once again emphasize the importance of downloading the installation file from the official website! This will keep your computer secure and make sure you get the most up-to-date version of the program.

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