I received permission from Nimer regarding
the following letter:
Hello NVDA community,
First, I hope you are staying safe and
One day in early 2012, I came across a
question posed on an NVDA list (it could have been this list
which was hosted on a different forum platform then): can NVDA
read Korean? That question led to an adventure that span nine
years: translations, writing documentation, founding an
international gathering of a community, releasing countless
add-ons, moderating several NVDA lists and communities, and
learning to incorporate lessons I have learned from the
community in the next chapter of my life. In the midst of
contributions, I recently hinted that I plan to retire from
the community, and that golden opportunity has come:
On May 10, 2021, I was offered and accepted
admission to master of arts (graduate school) program in
communication studies at California State University, Los
Angeles after graduating with highest honors (summa cum laude)
from the same university.
After observing discussions between
graduate students and thinking about balancing between
graduate seminars, coaching speech and debate teams, and NVDA
code contributions, I decided that school should take highest
of highest of priorities. Graduate school is harder than
undergraduate (college) education, especially when adding
responsibility of teaching and coaching students competing in
collegiate speech and debate tournaments. As much as I love
programming and contributing to NVDA community, I cannot
forget my immediate responsibilities of being a student and
public speaking coach.
Therefore, I’m retiring from NVDA community
contributions, effective September 1, 2021. This means:
- I do have work to finish which
might end up in NVDA as early as 2021.2, and I plan to
dedicate this summer to completing outstanding pull
- I’m handing over most of my
add-ons to the NVDA add-ons community for further
maintenance. I do plan to maintain Add-on Updater and
Windows 10 App Essentials – Add-on Updater is needed until
NVDA comes with add-ons store, and Windows 10 App Essentials
is needed to respond to ever-changing nature of Windows 10
ecosystem and to keep up with changes in NVDA development
from time to time.
- For NVDACon attendees and
organizers, I will not be able to (and I really cannot)
participate in NVDACon for a while.
- For add-ons community, I will be
stepping down as your chief admin and add-on reviewer this
summer (details will be sent to add-ons list).
Several thank you’s:
- Mick and Jamie: for starting it
all fifteen years ago – April 2006 signaled the birth of a
movement, which endures today.
- NV Access staff, past and
present: so many discussions, teaching me about life,
programming, and group work.
- Mesar Hameed: for teaching me
about NVDA translation process and making sure community
add-ons website was ready for the world in 2013.
- Many NvDA users and enthusiasts
in South Korea: for giving me an updated picture on Korean
blindness community and help formulating strategies on
translations and outreach nine years ago.
- Many translators: for helping me
adjust to the NVDA community when I was a novice translator
- Thousands of users: for teaching
me many things – forum discussions, direct feedback, and
countless other venues.
- Nimer and NVDA Users list
moderators, past and present: many collaborations and
- For users of my add-ons:
countless feedback, megabytes of debug logs (all were
destroyed after analyses because they contain private
information), and so many other things that made add-ons
useful to this day.
- NVDA supporters outside this
forum: for your continued enthusiasm and support.
- Microsoft engineers and fellow
Windows Insiders: many opportunities to connect and learn
- Folks from Mozilla, Google, and
other organizations: for meeting new friends and colleagues.
One advice for future NVDA contributors:
listen a lot. You can’t write effective add-ons and NVDA pull
requests without listening to what others have to say. Before
writing Python, sit down and have a conversation with users.
Collaboration is the key, especially when talking to people
Although I’m retiring as a code
contributor, I look forward to helping the NVDA community in
other ways. Until then, graduate school is calling me – feel
free to reach out if you seek advice on accessibility
advocacy, programming in general, public speaking, and what
Before I close, I would like to take this
time to invite resident high school and college students to
invest in public speaking, or if you want, compete in speech
and debate tournaments. You can’t just sit and ask others to
advocate for you – you must do it yourself at some point in
your life. One way to do so is learning public speaking and
debate skills, and one venue is through competing in high
school or college speech and debate tournaments. What
strengthened my own advocacy skills was competing in speech
tournaments, which also provided opportunities to tell the
world about NVDA project – I even talked about NVDA and
accessibility advocacy at a national speech tournament.
Advocacy will be important, especially as
the world moves onto digital ways to accomplish more tasks:
virtual reality, artificial intelligence, biometrics,
web-based workplace, and telehealth. As high school and
college students, you are in a place to inform and persuade
people about baking accessibility into products. Right now,
there aren’t many blind students competing in high school or
college speech and debate tournaments, and I want to sincerely
ask you to change the big picture. I’m willing to coach public
speaking events (see the message header for contact email);
this speech coaching offer from a nationally recognized former
speech competitor and now an apprentice coach extends to any
blind high school or college student (not only on NVDA Users
list, but also in other communities).
Farewell, NVDA community. Thank you for
teaching me many lessons over the last nine years, and for
giving me opportunities to make a difference in the lives of
many as an undergraduate college student and a volunteer code
contributor. Love you all, and stay safe and healthy.
Joseph S. Lee
NVDA Certified Expert, 2019
Volunteer translator, code contributor, and
add-ons reviewer, NVDA screen reader project (June 2012 to
Founding chair, NVDA Users and developers
Conference (NVDACon) (March 2014 to April 2016)
Member, NVDA Council
Former moderator, NVDA Users list (2013 to