Narrator’s Five Best Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Features

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews podcast, we provide our five favorite updates to Narrator from Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. These are a combination of new and updated features that makes Narrator much more powerful of a screen reader for Windows 10. Its our opinion that Narrator will become the leading screen reader for Windows users, since its an integrated screen reader that Microsoft is vested in enhancing its usability. The top five are:

  1. Caps lock 1 – Input Learning –
  2. Automatic Scan Mode
  3. Caps lock Shift Enter – Toggle Search Mode
  4. Caps lock Shift D – Describe and recognize text in an image
  5. Caps lock W and R – Read the entire window or from Narrator’s cursor

If you enjoy the Blind Vet Tech Podcast series, we invite anyone interested in assistive technology for the blind to join us on our monthly tech teleconferences. Click here to see a list of our calls and how to connect via Zoom.

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Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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Navigating Webpages and Netflix With Narrator’s Scan Mode

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we demonstrate how to navigate around webpages and Netflix with Narrator’s Scan Mode. This episode builds upon our earlier podcast where we describe and demonstrate the basics of Narrator in Windows 10. Once you learn the basics of Scan Mode, navigating around webpages, apps, and other windows will be a breeze. Please refer to the Microsoft’s Scan Mode support page for a complete list of Scan Mode Commands.

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on navigating webpages and Netflix with Narrator’s Scan Mode.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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How Narrator Reduces The Necessity Of The Windows 10 S To Pro Offer For The Blind

Microsoft announced on Global Accessibility Awareness Day some awesome news. The first involved a brief taste of upcoming Narrator updates that should scare VFO’s JAWS’ future. The second piece, which garnered more attention than warranted, stated users of assistive tech solutions will be able to update from Windows 10 S to Pro for free. Personally, the upcoming Narrator features grabbed my attention, while the free upgrade failed to captivate my interest. In the fall update of Windows 10, Narrator will receive some awesome updates, placing Scan Mode up front, general screen reading enhancements, and recognizing images and text through some nifty behind the scenes stuff. Microsoft’s Window 10 S systems target the budget, education, and similar markets, and individuals who receive their computers through services like the VA or VR programs will not have to worry about these changes. If we peel back the layers regarding the free upgrading from S to Pro for AT users, Microsoft simply is offering individuals of assistive tech solutions some time to gain some comfort with Windows’ integrated accessibility options, while acknowledging the third-party AT options are not in the Windows Store. Personally, end users should take the time to learn the integrated accessibility options, and third-party venters need to consider packaging their software to be distributed by the Windows Store.

I do champion the thought that JAWS, NVDA, former Window Eyes, and System Access users need to seriously need to try learning the basics of Narrator. The third-party accessibility software will remain viable for the near future, but I have to wonder about the longterm health of the industry. The blindness world seen its major players all merged together under VFO. This move reduced the platforms to just ZoomText and its variations, JAWS, and NVDA. Of these, NVDA and Narrator steadily increases its market hold, thanks to their non-existent costs and similar features to JAWS. ZoomText remains the best and really only plater in the screen magnification world, something that will only change if VFO opted to increase its cash by selling or renting out ZoomText magnification patents.

Narrator is a very viable accessibility solution for the blind.

Let me write that again, Microsoft Narrator is a viable screen reading solution for visually impaired computer users. I have no problems writing this, especially if your computing needs requires accessing the world wide web, email, productivity or office solutions, streaming media, and other rather regular and mundane tasks. A user with these requirements may enjoy the experiences offered by Windows 10 S, thanks to limited options. Yes, I can back this claim up, through my experiences on a cheap Best Buy Insignia brand tablet PC that costs less than $200. The PC lacks many of the hardware specifications found in traditional laptops and desktops, and I have not found any lag, refresh issues, or other performance concerns when using Narrator with Edge, Mail, People, Calendar, Adobe Acrobat DC, Netflix, Skype, One Drive, One Note, Word, and other standard apps. Of these, Adobe Acrobat DC is the only one not located in the Windows Store, but Windows offers its own document reader, and I am holding off installing iTunes until it reaches the Windows Store.

To summarize, the Windows 10 S to Pro free conversion for those requiring accessible assistive software will not be a big deal for most blind individuals who adopt Narrator. If you want to stick with JAWS and ZoomText, you would not be purchasing a Windows 10 S system anyways, but rather a Home or Pro version. Regardless, everyone who relies on a screen reader or screen magnification third-party solution should take a honest stab at Windows’ integrated options. Those who live in the world of Voice Over an Zoom through iOS and MacOS can attest to the benefits related to stability when accessibility is not bolted onto the operating system but is apart of the operating system’s core.

Windows 10 Narrator Basics

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In this Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast, we demonstrate Windows 10 Narrator. Microsoft’s commitment to integrated accessibility options for the blind received much attention since releasing Windows 10, with more to come. No longer is Narrator the laughing stock of screen readers, but its now almost as powerful as NVDA or JAWS. This episode shows how to use Narrator to navigate around different screens. Here are the key commands used:

  • Windows Key, Control, and Enter to activate or deactivate Narrator
  • Capslock and up or down arrows to change navigational level
  • Capslock and left or right arrow to navigate to the next or previous item at the set navigational level
  • Control to pause/resume Narrator’s speech
  • Capslock and Spacebar to activate or deactivate scan mode
  • When in scan mode, the up and down arrows moves Narrator’s focus and the left and right arrows will move you by character
  • Capslock and plus or minus keys to increase or decrease Narrator’s rate of speech
  • Capslock and A to change the verbosity level
  • Capslock and S to spell the line or word
  • Capslock and W will read the entire screen
  • Capslock and F1 pulls up the Narrator key command list

Thank you for listening to this Blind Vet Tech tutorial on the basics of Windows 10 Creator’s Edition Narrator.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.

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To Update or Not to Update

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Over the last two months, Microsoft and Apple both released their annual operation systems updates. This leaves one to ponder about the updating choice. While this decision is relatively a simple one for our sighted family and friends, the blindness community must ask the following questions:

  • Is it compatible with my adaptive software?
  • Will my device or system support the update?
  • Will any of the new features or changes require assistance to learn?

This review will offer guidance based on these questions related to the Windows 10 Anniversary, iOS 10, and MacOS Sierra updates. Before venturing any further, keep in mind the choice is not an easy one to make even with the answers to these questions. I strongly encourage each of you to review the information here, ask questions during any of the Hines Blind Center Alumni and Blind Vet Tech teleconferences, and with the manufactures or developers of your selected platforms.

Windows 10 Anniversary

A year after releasing Windows 10, Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary edition. The update packs new and tremendously powerful improvements into the release like a smarter Cortana, dark mode for those who like high contrast, the ability to sign in with just your face, and an overhaul to Narrator. The Narrator update turned the built-in screen reader from a nearly useless accessibility option into a wonderful robust screen reader. Narrator took some lessons from Voice Over, JAWS, and Window Eyes and became equally as powerful as these other screen readers. Also, Narrator is fully accessible with Edge and other parts of Windows. One common complaint involves the Rearrangement of the Start Menu. You will notice the Shut Off, Restart, and Log Off options are concealed in a dropdown menu.

Windows 10 Anniversary will work with those version of JAWS, nVDA, Zoom Text, and other adaptive software updated to work with Windows 10. If updating from Windows 8 or older, you will need to verify if your software version supports Windows 10. If you are a Narrator user, no worries, since you just received a functional screen reader. Microsoft stated the rollout of Windows 10 Anniversary will occur in phases, with newest computers receiving first dibs. If you wish to jump the line or verify if the update installed, look for “Feature Update to Windows 10, Version 1607” in software updates.

Overall, Windows 10 Anniversary will only slightly alter your computing experience. The This stems from the redesigned Start Menu and Narrator. The Start Menu’s main irksome change involves shutting down, restarting, or logging off your computer. Microsoft placed these items in menu with several other system controls. The Microsoft Accessibility Team will be more than happy to provide assistance in this matter. The second part requiring training is if you wish to rely on Narrator. While JAWS, NVDA, and Narrator possess many similarities, certain navigational methods differ enough between them that a 1 for 1 translation is not possible.

To update, navigate to Settings > Updates & Security > Windows Update and look for Feature update to Windows 10, version 1607. If you have any questions about Windows 10 and accessibility, contact the Microsoft Accessibility Team at:

iOS 10

Apple released iOS 10 alongside the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The latest update requires 1.1gb to download, but brings with it a bunch of nice features and updates. Voice Over users will enjoy a couple of new voices, a new in-app Voice Over Rotor option, a quicker way to rearrange apps on your home screen, and an enhancement to Photos where background and objects are identified. Low Vision users will continue to enjoy Zoom and the new white point balance feature and a new option in Accessibility that turns your iOS device into a digital Magnifier by triple pressing the home button. All iOS users will enjoy the updated lock screen and notifications views, the ability for third party apps to integrate with Siri and Messages, and the ability to remove those stock apps freeing. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the updates, but are probably the ones most of you will quickly wish to test out.

Like all Apple products, building accessibility into the operating system removes most of the questions one possesses regarding updating, as Voice Over, Zoom, and the other accessibility options work flawlessly with iOS 10. However, that does not mean some bugs do not slip through the cracks. Most notably includes an issue where Voice Over and Zoom may cease to operate properly under certain circumstances when both are activated and some continued bugginess with Braille Screen Input. Outside of these, Apple removed many of the legacy bugs making updating fun.

If you are wondering if your iPhone or iPad will be able to support iOS 10, here is the official list of supported devices:

  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7Plus
  • iPad Pro 12.9”, iPad Pro 9.7”, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 2
  • iPod Touch 6th Generation

Some additional words of caution come from those of you with the lower tier of storage (8 to 16gb) or whose devices are nearly maxed out. You may find your device running a bit slower when compared to iOS 9.3.6.

To update, navigate to Settings > General > Software Updates and look for the iOS 10 download and install button while connected to wifi and connected to power. If you have any questions about Apple Accessibility, contact Apple Accessibility Support at:

MacOS Siera

Apple changed more than the software behind its computers, but ditched Mac OS X to MacOS Sierra. Technically Sierra is OS 10.12 when you look in About This Mac, but don’t tell the presses. The Sierra update brought several very nice updates to Voice Over and Accessibility, how some of the core apps work, and finally introduced Siri.

Like all Apple products, building accessibility into the operating system removes most of the questions one possesses regarding updating, as Voice Over, Zoom, and the other accessibility options work flawlessly with Sierra. However, that does not mean some bugs do not slip through the cracks.

If you are wondering if your Mac supports Sierra, here is the official list of supported devices:

  • MacBook Pros 2010 or newer, MacBook 2009 or newer, and MacBook Air 2010 or newer
  • Mac Mini 2010 or newer
  • Mac Pro 2010 or newer
  • iMac 2009 or newer

however, I issue a word of caution that Macs with just 2GB of RAM or who have nearly full hard drives may experience a rather sluggish Mac, especially with Voice Over. This problem increases if using File Vault to encrypt your hard drive.

One possible catch with Sierra involves whether you might need some extra assistance to use Voice Over or Zoom with Sierra. How you answer this question depends on your current skill level and if you wish to use Siri. If you are a beginner Mac user, you might want to hold off updating until some sighted assistance is around. This recommendation stems not from any changes in the update, but rather your comfort level completing the updating process. Another group of individuals who might wish to hold off are those who are not comfortable with playing around in System Preferences. After each update, it’s worth the time to go through all of the System Preferences to see what changed. For Example, Siri maybe available in the Dock, but changing the keyboard shortcut requires a quick dive into System Preferences. Minus these items, the update will not require any additional Voice Over or Zoom skills to continue using your Mac.

To update, navigate to App Store > Updates and look for the MacOS Sierra update or select update all. If you have any questions about Apple Accessibility, contact Apple Accessibility Support at: