why I’ve moved away from a paid screen reader after almost 18 years, An essay.

background

people who are blind use what’s called a screen reader. Without getting to technical, a screen reader is a piece of software that converts the windows UI into spoken or braille.
It has been the case that for many years blind folk used a program for Windows by the name of JAWS.
What is the problem?
The problem is that this solution is very expensive and does not really get the job done specially if one is studying. I’ve been a user for 18 years and of late the product just hasn’t been up to par. Specially if one studies STEM subjects like computer science, Information Technology or business information systems.

Introducing NVDA.

NVDA is a free access piece of tech. It was the project of Jamie now at Firefox hq and his friend Michael. What these 2 gentlemen have been able to put together is very cool. The fact that anyone who is blind can use a PC is a great notion. Accessibility shouldn’t be only for those who can afford it. Education, Social access, and being a productive member of the world should be free.
Why do we need to pay to use our computers? It’s very wrong and not something I support at all.

Narrator and Microsoft’s accessibility statement.

Narrator and NVDA are going in the right direction. I can’t wait for the May update to Windows 10. Already I am noticing my workflow being helped by switching to NVDA. Microsoft’s new Skype 8? No problems with NVDA. Microsoft tools like Sway, Access, SQL, and most other programs we use at University just work better with NVDA and Windows 10. I often run Windows in a sand-boxed state for testing and both Narrator and NVDA work really well, Even under insider builds. When I was a guest of Microsoft Australia in 2016 I loved the culture at the firm. There are some very smart people some of who I’ve met in person that really make things happen in a big way.

Moving away from the privileged lot.

Me and my family came to Australia way back in 1996. We went through some dark times before settling in this wonderful country we now call home. The example above is to say that our family and Africans know about the struggle. When I give back to NVDA, I’m saying thanks. Just because something is paid doesn’t make it the best. Furthermore, We have a ethical duty to give back to our community. From the NVDA project lots of people are making huge differences. If your $15 or $30 goes on to help a blind man or young woman to live a better day why the hell wouldn’t you do it?

Conclusion.

We need to think about our global foot print. Ask philosophical questions and don’t do what we are told. Be the change you want to see. Next time your employer or access staff ask you about a paid solution say no. I’m so glad I’ve made the switch to NVDA and free access like Narrator. I hope you will join me on this social movement which has already changed the lives of millions. To Jamie and Michael, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.