By the time many of you read this, you undoubtedly heard that Microsoft released Windows 10. After all, this information has been broadcasted everywhere from main stream news sources like the BBC to the Huffington Post, email alerts from Microsoft and assistive technology companies, and even an update to Windows 10 button found in the task bar on Windows 7 and newer. Based on this dissemination to a wide audience to update, individuals with screen readers and screen magnifiers are left wondering if they should. The purpose of this article is to provide you with an awareness and some recommendations about updating to Windows 10.
General Windows 10 Accessibility
In large part, the Windows 10 operating system is a very stable and enjoyable system, especially when compared to Windows 8.1. Just using Narrator, I have been able to access Windows 10, with little to no issues. Keep in mind that Narrator is not a full fledge screen reader still, but is fully capable of preforming many simple tasks. Microsoft Accessibility has released one warning about accessibility issues for screen readers and its new internet browser, Edge. Microsoft states:
“For web browsing, Microsoft recommends that users of assistive technology avoid the new default Edge browser at this time and switch to Internet Explorer or another browser you may have used in Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.”
The rest of Windows 10 works just as one expects it should. Even the Digital assistance, Cortana, has been a pleasure to invoke, through the shortcut Windows Key plus C or hitting the microphone button next to the search box on the start menus.
Individuals using JAWS 16 will be happy to learn that JAWS is fully compatible with Windows 10. In fact, Freedom Scientific proudly states that upgrading will be seamless, provided one follows a few steps located on their Upgrading to Windows 10 page.
Freedom Scientific’s Windows 10 Upgrade How To Page
As for older versions of JAWS, you might wish to hold off updating to Windows 10 until you can obtain JAWS 16. Freedom Scientific stated that JAWS 16 is the only version of their screen reading software that will work with Windows 10 without any issues.
For individuals running ZoomText 10.1, AI Squared released an update that will enable ZoomText to work properly after updating to Windows 10. The actual version number is ZoomText 10.1.14. AI Squared stated that the update will be free for those who received a copy of ZoomText 10.1 after June 1, 2015, but those using ZoomText 10.0 or older will have to purchase an upgrade. For more information, visit the below link:
AI Square’s ZoomText and Window Eyes Compatibility with Windows 10
Similar to JAWS, the latest version of Dolphin’s Guide, version 9.04, is ready for the Windows 10. If you are running an older version of Guide, obtain an update prior to considering the upgrade. For more information, visit Dolphin’s website:
Dolphin’s Guide Compatibility with Windows 10
Free Screen Readers
Both NVDA and the latest version of Window Eyes for Office are fully compatible with Windows 10. The only issue one might encounter is a pop-up window that appears in the task bar that states the software is not compatible with Windows 10. However, as an NVDA user, I can attest to not encountering a problem with NVDA.
Since obtaining this information about which assistive technologies are compatible with Windows 10, one must ask the question if upgrading is right for you. If you are perfectly comfortable with your current Windows setup, there is nothing wrong with no upgrading. Windows 10 offers a few new interfaces and features, but ultimately its your comfort levels and trust with your current setup that is important. By not upgrading you save yourself much frustration trying to learn the locations of various items you might be very comfortable with right now.
There is no need to rush into Windows 10 immediately. Microsoft stated that they will continue to support Windows 7 until 2020, which provides you with five more years of software and security updates. During this period, you will have ample time to request a referral to a Blind Rehab Center to update your computer and receive training on Windows 10.