Announcing NVDACon: NVDA Users and Developers Conference, a conference for users, developers and supporters of an open-source Python-based screen reader for Microsoft Windows
Dear members of the Python Software Foundation, advocates of Python programming language, wider Python community and accessibility advocates:
My name is Joseph Lee, a college student from Los Angeles, a visually impaired Python programmer and a contributor to a screen reader called NonVisual Desktop Access, a Python-based, open-source and community-driven screen reader for Microsoft Windows. First, I would like to thank you for the work the staff at PSF and the Python community are doing to promote Python programming language. Many programmers, including blind and visually impaired developers appreciate all your hard work to make Python a fun, easy to learn and one of the most accessible and widely used programming languages around the world. To give you a chance to talk to fellow Pythoneers who are blind or visually impaired and to foster collaboration with PSF and the community on accessibility, I'd like to invite the Python community to a community-led conference on NVDA screen reader scheduled for April 2016.
For many blind people around the world, a computer and a screen reader is an integral combination for obtaining a wide range of information, tool for communication and is crucial for success at work. Until a few years ago, a visually impaired computer user would set aside up to a thousand dollars to purchase a screen reader (a screen reader is a software package that obtains, interprets and presents screen elements and their contents via speech synthesis and/or a refreshable braille display). Some of the well-known screen readers include JAWS for Windows for Microsoft Windows, VoiceOver for OS X and iOS and Orca for Linux, with JAWS being an example of a commercial screen reader.
In 2006, two blind Python programmers from Australia decided to write a free, open-source alternative, choosing Python as its implementation language. Initially, they used packages such as PyTTS and older packages for accomplishing certain tasks and used accessibility API's such as MSAA (Microsoft Active Accessibility)/IAccessible. Over the years, the number of packages used by NVDA grew, and as of 2016, NVDA uses well-known third-party packages such as wxPython (GUI features), SCons (compilation), Py2exe (source code to binary transformation) and others, with support for newer accessibility API's and standards such as ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) and UIA (UI Automation) included as standard.
Ten years after its creation, the NVDA screen reader project, led by an Australian charity named NV Access, has become an integral tool for lives of over a hundred thousand blind and visually impaired computer users around the world, and features of this project are growing thanks to contribution from the community. Some of the highlights include support for various office applications and web browsers, compatibility with Windows XP and beyond, ability to run from a USB flash drive without requiring installation, translated into nearly 50 languages and an interactive Python console/interpreter for testing accessibility features and for developing workarounds for inaccessible parts of various applications. As of time of this writing, NVDA uses Python 2.7, and developers are looking at porting NVDA to Python 3, subject to readiness of dependencies such as SCons, wxPython and others.
In late 2015, some members of the NVDA user community met together online to discuss ways of celebrating NVDA's tenth anniversary in April 2016. Among many ideas discussed in our meeting, it was decided that the NVDA community, together with NV Access, will host a special NVDA Users and Developers Conference (called NVDACon) in April (inspired by PyCon, NvDACon (started in 2014) seeks to let users network with developers and to set the goals of NVDA's development for months to come). The organizers of NVDACon believe that promotion is the key to success of this gathering, and we thought about contacting PSF and the wider Python community to see if we could get the word out to mainstream media, to fellow Python developers and to raise awareness of accessibility in programming and user experience.
At NVDACon, not only you'll get a chance to talk to users of a Python-based screen reader to learn more about how a screen reader works, you'll get a chance to learn more about how NVDA is impacting lives of blind and visually impaired people around the world as they work, play and everything in between and more. You'll also gain insight into how companies such as Microsoft, Mozilla and others are working together with NV access and the wider blindness community to enhance accessibility of their products, as well as hear from members of the NVDA community (who are also visually impaired Python programmers) as to how they are benefiting the wider community by creating add-ons (extensions) for NVDA. At the end of the conference, you'll get a chance to hear from the creators of NVDA screen reader discussing NVDA's past, present and future, as well as get a chance to talk to actual screen reader developers to learn more about what we the Python community can do to improve state of accessibility of software packages and to foster collaboration with NV Access to make programs accessible to screen reader users around the world.
For more information on NVDA, please visit www.nvaccess.org. More information on NvDACon can be found at http://www.nvda-kr.org/en/nvdacon.php.
* Title: NVDA Users and Developers Conference (NVDACon) International 2016/Tenth Anniversary Edition
* Date: April 22, 23, 29 and 30, 2016
* Place: NVDA Korea TeamTalk server (requires TeamTalk 5)
* Time: varies
* Theme: NonVisual Desktop Access: Ten years of screen reading excellence
* Keynote speakers: Michael Curran and James Teh (NV Access)
* Featured speakers: Kelly Ford (senior accessibility program manager, Microsoft), Marco Zehe (accessibility quality assurance engineer, Mozilla Foundation), Fernando Botelho (led developer, F123 Access), Lucy Greco and Pranav Lal (Dictation Bridge (http://dictationbridge.com))
We the organizers of NVDACon and the NVDA community look forward to seeing members of the Python community and PSF join this conference and a possible collaboration to making Python an even better tool for those starting out with programming, especially for blind and visually impaired users. Thank you.
Joseph S. Lee
Department of Communication Studies (student), Los Angeles City College
Translator, code contributor and community add-ons reviewer, NVDA screen reader project
Chair, NVDA Tenth Anniversary Planning Committee