[accesscomp] FW: an overview of the NVDA remote accessDan's tip for April 6 2016
- From: "Robert Acosta" <boacosta@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: <aw-announcements@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2016 12:52:38 -0700
Robert Acosta, President
Helping Hands for the Blind
From: dan Thompson [mailto:dthompson5@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2016 5:57 AM
To: dan Thompson
Subject: an overview of the NVDA remote accessDan's tip for April 6 2016
Tech term for the day:
Bug: Whether first used by Thomas Edison, or referring to a moth trapped in
an early computer that blocked a relay from properly functioning, today
"bug" refers to any glitch or defect in software, hardware, or even the odd
Crapplet: An applet, usually Java based, that is not worth anything.
Fact of the day:
A duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why.
Things to ponder:
Only in America .... do banks have their doors wide open but the pens bolted
to a desk.
Only in America .... are expensive cars left in the driveway and worthless
junk in the garage.
Only in America ... do we have an answering machine to screen calls and
caller ID to ensure we don't miss calls from people we don't want to speak
with to begin with.
An Overview of NVDA Remote Access, a Free Add-on for the Non Visual Desktop
Access Screen Reader
Until recently, one aspect that commercial screen readers such as JAWS and
Window Eyes have had over Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) is the built-in
ability for a user to seamlessly take control of another computer remotely
if the other computer is running the same screen reader. In March of 2015,
the programmers Christopher Toth and Tyler Spivey created a crowdfunding
campaign to develop an add-on for NVDA to allow for this same remote access.
The campaign was successful and the NVDA Remote Access add-on was released
in the early summer of 2015. The add-on is both open source and free to
download and use. For this article, I will walk through using the add-on and
also describe my experience using the add-on.
The Remote Access add-on can be downloaded from NVDA add-on collections such
as the <http://addons.nvda-project.org/index.en.html> NVDA Community Add-on
site and can also be downloaded from the <http://nvdaremote.com/> NVDA
Remote website. To install the add-on, activate the downloaded file and NVDA
will ask you if you wish to install the add-on. After you press "Yes" the
add-on will be installed and NVDA will ask you if you wish to restart to
complete installation. Once NVDA has restarted, the add-on will be installed
and ready for use.
The Remote Access add-on has documentation in HTML format. The documentation
is <http://nvdaremote.com/docs/> posted on the NVDA Remote website. The
documentation can also be found by going into the Tools menu, activating the
Add-ons Manager, and highlighting the Remote add-on. You will find that
there is a Help button in this dialog which launches the HTML help file. The
document is very straightforward and concise with clear instructions on the
various aspects of the add-on. For each aspect of the add-on, step-by-step
instructions are provided; information regarding some anomalies that may be
encountered is also included.
Connecting to Another Computer Using a Server
The Remote Access add-on has a submenu in the NVDA menu located under Tools
Remote. The first option in this menu is Connect, and will be the main
dialog that you work with when establishing connections. There are two sets
of radio buttons in this dialog; one allows you to choose if the computer
will be a server or client and the other allows you to choose if the
computer will be the controlling computer or the one controlled. When
connecting through a server, you will choose the "Client" radio button on
both computers. In the next set of radio buttons one computer needs to be
set as the controller and the other as the controlled. After these radio
buttons there are two fields, one for Host and one for the key. In the host
field, you place the name of your relay server. If you do not have access to
a personal server, you can use nvdaremote.com as a server. In the key field,
you can either type your own key or activate the following Generate Key
button to have a 7-digit key generated for you. This key will need to be
used on the other computer as well to form the connection. Once these fields
have been filled out, you can press the OK button to connect to the server.
Now the initial computer is ready to be connected to. The other computer
follows the same steps but selects the opposite role from the original
computer. The second computer will also need to input the key from the first
computer into the key field so that they can be connected. When connecting
you will hear a different sound depending on if you have connected as the
controlling computer (an ascending two-tone sound) or as the controlled
computer (three-tone sound). When the connection between the computers has
been established you will hear a higher single tone which will play from
both computers at once.
Connecting Directly to Another Computer
The process for forming a direct connection is similar to using a relay
server with a few differences on the end of the person who will set their
computer as the server for the connection. This computer can either be the
controlling or controlled computer but must be first to establish a
connection. Instead of selecting the Client button in the first group of
radio buttons, you select Server to begin a direct connection. After
selecting if the server will be controlling or controlled you will come to a
button to generate your external IP. This tool allows you to conveniently
find the IP address that the other computer will need to enter into their
Host field to connect to you. The IP address will be placed in the field
when generated. To be the server, you must have port 6837 forwarded. When
you select the Get External IP button, your IP will be copied to the field
and if your port is not forwarded you will be alerted. If you are presented
with a message that the port is forwarded but the add-on could not acquire
your IP, you can proceed as described here, but find your external IP
another way. This field does not need to be filled in and is meant as a
quick way of finding your IP. After the IP field you have the key field and
the Generate button just as you would if you were connecting as a client.
Once you have entered or generated the key and opened the connection, the
other computer can connect to you using the client radio button substituting
your external IP for the relay server in the Host field.
Controlling Another Computer
Once you are connected to a computer you can press the F11 key to send the
keys you press to the other computer. When you are controlling the other
computer, NVDA will speak anything that the NVDA on the other computer is
saying. If you want to start using your computer normally, pressing the F11
key will stop sending keys and allow you to operate your machine normally.
When you press F11, NVDA will tell you if you are either sending or not
sending keys. Operating the other machine is seamless: there is barely any
lag at all in its operation and switching between machines is fast and
It is important to note that the controlled computer's screen is not
mirrored on the screen. Only the NVDA speech is sent along with any NVDA
sounds such as the sounds for entering Browse mode and Focus mode. If you do
not need non-NVDA audio, controlling a computer through Remote access is
efficient. I wrote this article by controlling another computer and writing
it there and I was able to do so just as easily as if I were using the
Other Menu Options
There are several other options in the Remote menu. These will be discussed
in the following sections in order of their appearance. As the Connect item
has been discussed previously, it will be skipped.
This option (the second option in the Remote menu) disconnects the computer.
You can disconnect either the controlling computer or controlled computer
with this option. You will hear a low tone to alert you that the connection
has been broken. As long as the other machine remains connected the other
computer can reconnect as usual.
Mute Remote Speech
This command allows you to mute the speaking of the controlled computer on
the controlling computer. It is only available on the controlling computer
and is disabled on the controlled computer. Note that you will still hear
sounds such as the Browse mode and Focus mode sounds even with speech muted.
This command allows you to send the contents of the clipboard to the other
computer. This can be done from either machine, allowing you to push
contents from your controlling computer or send back clipboard contents from
the controlled computer.
This opens the options dialog. At the moment, the only option is to
auto-connect to the server on startup. If you check the checkbox fields for
Host and Key, they will be added to the dialog. Using this option will set
the machine as the controlled computer by default and you must provide your
own key instead of generating one. If you complete this process, NVDA will
automatically connect to the server with the provided details every time it
runs allowing you to always have access to the controlled computer without
the need to set up a connection each time.
Send Ctrl + Alt + Del
You cannot use the Ctrl + Alt + Del combination when sending keys. This menu
option (which was not working at the time of testing) allows you to send the
Ctrl + Alt + Del command to the controlled computer.
Bugs and Reporting Issues
There were two bugs that I found during testing. If you perform a Ctrl + Alt
+ Del command while sending keys to the controlled machine, the Ctrl and Alt
keys will become stuck, so that when you send keys afterward they will be
interpreted as if you were pressing Ctrl + Alt along with the pressed keys.
If you press Ctrl + Alt while sending keys they return to normal. The other
bug experienced is the aforementioned bug with the Send Ctrl + Alt + Del
menu option. If you experience bugs, the developers have set up
> a bug tracking system
where you can report them. This tracker has also been linked on the NVDA
The Bottom Line
The NVDA Remote Access add-on was very simple to set up and use and the
experience of controlling another computer was smooth. There are many
possible uses for this add-on and its inclusion in the pool of available
NVDA add-ons could significantly increase the usefulness of NVDA for many
> NVDA Remote Access
Developers: Christopher Toth and Tyler Spivey
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- » [accesscomp] FW: an overview of the NVDA remote accessDan's tip for April 6 2016 - Robert Acosta