Re: Farewell, NVDA community: retiring from NVDA contributions, effective September 1, 2021

Bhavya shah

Dear Joseph,

It has been wonderful to get to know you through NVDA over the past
several years and your commitment to this community has truly been
unique. My best wishes on this new chapter of your life - you will be


On 5/11/21, Betsy Grenevitch <> wrote:
Joseph, I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for your years
of service to the NVDA community. They are greatly appreciated.

I look forward to hearing how your studies go and where they will lead
you in the future.

On 5/10/2021 5:48 AM, Joseph Lee wrote:

I received permission from Nimer regarding the following letter:

Hello NVDA community,

First, I hope you are staying safe and healthy.

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 requests.
* 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

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
* 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 in 2012.
* 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 helpful advice.
* 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 from.
* 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 online.

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 not.

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


Joseph S. Lee

NVDA Certified Expert, 2019

Volunteer translator, code contributor, and add-ons reviewer, NVDA
screen reader project (June 2012 to September 2021)

Founding chair, NVDA Users and developers Conference (NVDACon) (March
2014 to April 2016)

Member, NVDA Council

Former moderator, NVDA Users list (2013 to 2016)

Betsy Grenevitch 678-862-3876

Best Regards
Bhavya Shah
Stanford University | Class of 2024
E-mail Address:

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