I'll try to outline what I see are some of the key differences between the two screen readers. Both have their respective pros and cons and, as I use both, I will try to be as objective as I can in compiling this list. I will say up front that this is probably
not an exhaustive or complete list but items which immediately come to mind.
Advantages of NVDA Over JAWS
1. NVDA is free of cost. This not only means that no money is required to use the software but it also means that NVDA users don't need to worry about software maintenance agreements. As long as you're using a fairly modern version of Windows you can be
sure that you can always run the latest NVDA version. It also means you never have to worry about being in a trial mode where NVDA will eventually stop functioning
2. NVDA is open source. This has several advantages such as more transparency, being open to community contributions and even allowing the community to take the existing source code and modify it, creating their own screen reader as long as certain terms
of the license are met.
3. To my knowledge, NVDA is likely available in more languages and comes with a synthesizer capable of speaking many of these languages. This means that NVDA is capable of being used by people around the world without them first needing to acquire NVDA in
4. NVDA is more of a community effort, written by its users as well as for its users. This means that, potentially, users have more to say about its development.
5. The program's actual size is much smaller, making the download much faster. This means that downloading future updates can, depending on the speed of your Internet connection, take just a few seconds.
6. Along with that, the actual installation of NVDA is lightning fast.
7. NVDA can be run portably off of a USB drive or SD card, without the need to install it onto the host computer. Nearly all features are available using the portable version.
8. NVDA's various program settings are located from within one easy to use menu, as opposed to several different dialogs as well as a menu.
9. One of my personal favorite unique NVDA features is the ability for NVDA to optionally generate ascending tones to indicate the progress indicator for tasks such as copying a file from one location to another, downloading a file in Firefox or Internet
Explorer, installing a program, etc. I honestly never understood why JAWS has never implemented such a feature. JAWS is now able to do this if you use the third-party Leasey add-on but this is a program which must be purchased in order for this feature to
10. Along with option 9, NVDA can also report background progress tones, a feature that I really like. As an example, this means that I can have a Windows update download and install in the background while I'm composing a document and I can still hear the
ascending progress tones, hear the percentages announced verbally or both.
11. This may be subjective but I feel that NVDA's user documentation has a slightly simpler writing style. The documentation which is supplied with JAWS is both accurate and extensive but it is not written well from the perspective of a new user. I used
to train people in how to use computers and screen readers and I find that I was sometimes needing to translate some of the help text supplied with JAWS. Writing manuals and help materials is as much of an art than it is a science.
12. NVDA allows users to submit bug reports and feature requests in a special repository. This has some definite advantages. It shows you the progress of your report and you will know whether and how it's being addressed, as will other users. It also means
that you can search the repository for other issues to see whether they have already been reported as well as the status of those issues.
On 12/22/2018 8:50 PM, Maria Reyes wrote:
How different is NVDA than Jaws? what are some differences?
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