reading for visually impaired

NVDA And The Future Of Reading For The Visually Impaired

It is really inspiring to see people who don´t take no for an answer fulfilling their dreams and helping others in the way. The NVDA project is a tool that makes everyday life better for visually impaired and blind people in at least 15 countries around the world. Read on and be inspired by what the work of very talented people working for an amazing cause can do.

The Origins

The acronym stands for Non Visual Desktop Access and it was created by Michael Curran in 2006 who decided to work in a Python-based project for a reader that would use Microsoft´s SAPI for an speech engine. From the first version in late 2006 to 2009, the NVDA added languages and compatibility with some braille displays. By 2010 a major restructuration of the software made it compatible to third-party modules. By 2012 and 2013 it was capable of managing Microsoft Power Point and by 2015 could handle the entire Microsoft Office package. Nowadays it also supports other third-party apps like Google Chrome, OpenOffice, Java Access Bridge and many more. From the conception of the idea to the present day more than ten years of continuous growth and many things were perfected and fixed in the way during that time.

Open Source As A Manifesto

Unlike many other apps in the market that are quite expensive and difficult to obtain, NVDA is free source and therefore completely free. This is not a detail, but a manifesto. The team behind NVDA is bringing equity just one step further because regardless of your visual capabilities and your economic position, you can have the same access to information through a computer as everyone else. In fact, the Manifesto of the organization is in their website and reads:

  • “Access to technology no matter your language, location or financial situation.”
  • “Quality over growth, access over profit.”
  • “Software by the blind, for the blind.”
  • “Ensuring innovation + preventing stagnation through competition.”
  • “Uncompromising quality software.”
  • “Serving minorities, not just the majority consumer.”

While the biggest software companies in the world, at least the biggest three (Microsoft, Apple and Linux) offer some kind of access facilitation in their systems for those who are visually impaired, none of them is designed to be ever-growing and accepting third-party apps like NVDA. The advantage of being software made by blind for the blind is that it will always be more accurate in tackling the real needs of people. Also, NVDA has an amazing structure that is sustained through donations and sponsorship giving it the freedom and flexibility needed to act only for the minority and staying on float.

With a company that supports such a strong manifesto and being run by the minority they have decided to help, the possibilities for improvement in the near future are the limitless. Like the common-phrase says: Sky´s the limit.

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