NVDA basics

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Get started

At NV Access, download and install NVDA.

  • NVDA works best with Firefox.
  • To turn on NVDA, use Ctrl-Alt-N. To turn it off, use NVDA key-Q.
  • In NVDA, you use a modifier key (the NVDA key) in combination with other keys. You can set the NVDA key as either the Caps Lock key or the Insert key. For example, you access the NVDA menu by using NVDA key-N. (The NVDA menu contains settings for voice type, speed, plugins, tools, and other options to configure NVDA.)
  • If your Insert key is part of the keypad (typical for a laptop), your Num Lock key needs to be off so that it won't activate the numbers when you press the Insert key.
  • Recommended setting: Turn off mouse tracking. In Preferences > Settings > Mouse, uncheck Enable mouse tracking. While mouse tracking can be useful for a very quick spot check, it does not reveal the actual usability that performing a genuine task does.

Key combinations

You can use many key combinations for NVDA in a variety of applications.

In most cases, pressing your Shift key with another key will move your cursor to the previous item. For example, pressing L takes you to the next list, while pressing Shift-L will take you to the previous list.

General NVDA commands

  • Control-Alt-N: Turn NVDA on
  • NVDA key-Q: Turn NVDA off
  • NVDA key-N: Open the NVDA menu
  • NVDA key-F7: Open elements list for current document

Reading commands

  • NVDA key-A: Read from current position
  • Shift: Pause reading
  • Control: Stop reading
  • Up and down arrow keys: Move to the next or previous line
  • Tab: Move to next interactive element
  • P: Reads the next paragraph
  • L: Reads the next list
  • I: Reads the next list item
  • T: Reads the table
  • Control-Alt-any arrow key: Navigate table
  • G: Reads the next graphic/image
  • H: Reads the next heading
  • K: Reads the next link (any type)
  • D: Reads the next landmark
  • Keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6: Checks the next heading levels 1 through 6, respectively

Form commands

  • F: Reads the next form element
  • Insert-Spacebar: Toggle in and out of forms mode
  • B: Reads the next button
  • Spacebar: Select or deselect checkboxes and radios
  • C: Reads the next combo box
  • R: Reads the next radio input
  • X: Reads the next checkbox
  • E: Reads the next text edit field

For a full list of NVDA commands, see the NVDA User Guide.

Tools and settings

To find tools and settings, open the NVDA menu using NVDA key-N. Once the tools and settings are activated, they should open each time NVDA starts.

Two recommended tools include:

  • Elements list: A quick way to explore the types of elements on a page. In web browsers, the elements list will include lists of links, headings, form fields, buttons, and landmarks.

    Open the elements list with NVDA key-F7. Alternatively, open it from the NVDA menu, in the Tools submenu.

    To toggle between types of items and the lists of those items, use Tab and Shift-Tab. The up and down arrow keys move within a type or list.

  • Speech viewer: Shows the most current text spoken by NVDA, useful for seeing the spoken text without having to refresh and navigate back to the same item.

    Open the Speech viewer from the NVDA menu, in the Tools submenu.

Two recommended settings include:

  • Visual highlight: A quick way to identify system focus, navigator object, and browse mode cursor. A solid blue outline highlights a combined navigator object and system focus; a dashed blue outline highlights system focus; a solid pink outline highlights the navigator object; and a solid yellow outline highlights the virtual caret in browse mode.

    Turn on visual highlighting from the NVDA Preferences menu, in Settings. Choose Vision, and then Enable Highlighting.

  • Screen Curtain: Turns off the screen. This allows sighted testers to navigate and rely only on NVDA for feedback.

    Enable the screen curtain from the NVDA Preferences menu, in Settings. Choose Vision, and then check Make screen black under "Screen Curtain". This will take immediate effect.

This is document atfo in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2021-08-13 14:12:16.