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Comparing screen readers

Noted by on his .

On Windows, NVDA is more capable but Narrator + Edge is more secure. Narrator and Edge were designed to work without giving Narrator access to the content process, using the UI Automation API (UIA). Edge’s UIA was merged into upstream Chromium but it was only enabled in Edge. Matt Campbell wrote about it on the orange site in January 2021; I don’t know if the situation has changed since then.

Try both. If Narrator works for you I’d stick to that. My main issue isn’t the lack of functionality, but the speech synthesizer delays (when it starts reading, the first words get dropped).

Mobile screen readers (Android TalkBack, iOS VoiceOver, KaiOS Readout) are more beginner-friendly but also much more limited.


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@modulux @freyja_wildes (2/2) Ooh, forgot to mention that ChromeOS/ChromiumOS have ChromeVox. ChromeVox used to be a browser extension, but it was discontinued in favor of the native ChromeVox screen reader. I haven't used it before.If you are in a terminal environment: Emacspeak is just great.On mobile, you can learn to use a screen reader using Windows Narrator also comes with a helpful interactive tutorial.Orca is finicky/buggy; it's fine for reading "non-app" we…


@modulux @freyja_wildes I don't think that Narrator + Edge is, in any practical sense, more secure than NVDA with any current browser. It's true that Narrator is better prepared for the possibility that Chromium, either upstream or Edge's version, might tighten security as EdgeHTML did by forbidding injection (into the browser process, not the content process). But I doubt they (esp. upstream Chromium) will do that without giving NVDA and JAWS time to prepare. Meanwhile, I prefer NVDA.


@matt @Seirdy @freyja_wildes You do get occasional browser crashes on the NVDA injected lib though, at least it happens every now and again with Firefox. Whether these crashes can open up security issues or not is more than I can say.


@modulux @Seirdy @freyja_wildes Fair point. And I suppose a bug in a screen-reader-injected library could cause a browser security vulnerability. So I suppose Seirdy is right.


@modulux @Seirdy @freyja_wildes If I'm honest, I want NVDA to be the better option because I like the narrative of a community of blind people taking control over their access to the platform and applications through an open-source project, rather than waiting on access to be handed down from the platform vendor. But a screen reader built into the platform has its advantages. (Yes, I used to be on the Narrator team; my reasons for joining and later leaving are complicated.)


@matt @Seirdy @freyja_wildes Personally I think NVDA being made by us has obvious advantages in the way it addresses problems and finds solutions that might not come up for sighted devs. In the end, though, I use it because I consider it the most capable screen reader available at this point, including response speed, which is a very important issue. I'd be curious to know how things went for you with narrator if you want to discuss it.

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