In this post, I will write about one of our favorite screenless technologies, NVDA. Specifically, I want to provide some insight into what the NVDA certification is, why it might benefit you, and how you can prepare to take the exam.
What Is The NVDA Certification?
Non-Visual Desktop Access, or NVDA, is a free open-source screen reader that’s been around since 2008. A screen reader is software that reads the screen out to people through speech. You can read a bit more about screen readers here. NV Access, the makers of the screen reader, offers an optional certification that can be obtained. Taking the test is free, but the certification costs around $75 USD. In addition to obtaining proof of understanding of NVDA’s features, you are financially supporting this non-profit organization by purchasing the certificate. The questions range from understanding simple keyboard commands used in NVDA, to understanding how things are spoken by NVDA.
When Can You Take The Exam?
The test is an online exam consisting of multiple choice questions. The exam can be taken online at any time of the day. All you have to do is go to the NV Access certification portal and register for an account.
Where Can I Take The Exam?
As mentioned, the test is administered online. There is no testing center scheduling required, or even proctoring. You have the option of taking it in the comfort of your own home on your personal computer. This test is on the honor system, so don’t cheat!
Why Do I Need This Certification?
You might be asking, why would I take this exam if this is a free screen reader? This might be a simple answer depending on profession, motivation, or willingness to learn. My reasons are as follows:
- By purchasing a certification, you are supporting this non-profit organization in their quest to making technology as widely available to blind people.
- It is good to have a credential when offering services related to a product, in this case, NVDA.
- According to this WebAIM survey, NVDA slightly surpasses its main competitor as being the most used primary screen reader by people with disabilities. Therefore there is some value in knowing this software well.
Who Can Benefit?
It is my belief that this certification may benefit you if you’re:
- an assistive technology trainer working with blind people
- an accessibility consultant working on a number of technologies including web, PDF, and desktop applications
- a teacher or instructor of visually impaired people and you want to teach students how to use this free product
- a blind individual who wants to solidify their understanding of NVDA
- and finally, any other profession or occupation I may not have mentioned having to do with technology and blind people
OK, Now How Do I Actually Prepare?
The preparation process is simpler than you might think. The biggest helper in this endeavor is to actually download NVDA from the NV Access Website. After downloading, there is some great help to be found in NVDA’s help Menu. Do the following to access the Help menu:
- First, open the NVDA Menu by pressing the Insert and N keys together on your keyboard.
- Then, arrow down using either the up arrow or down arrow keys on your keyboard until you hear Help Submenu, h.
- Expand this submenu by pressing the right arrow key on your keyboard.
- Now, the first option is User Guide. If you want to review in-depth documentation, this is the place to go. And in fact, this is from where the test gets most of its questions. You can press Enter.
- Otherwise, if this is too overwhelming, the second menu option in the help menu is the Commands Quick Reference option. This gives concrete keyboard hotkeys that can be used to explore by doing. Fair warning, there are quite a few commands, so you may need time to digest them.
Alternatively, if you desire a more structured approach to learning, NV Access offers an training module eBook which helps users get to grips with this screen reader from the very beginning. Again, this purchase will also support NV Access directly.
I hope this post provided some insight into the benefits of obtaining this certification, as well as providing some guidance as to how you can self-prepare to take the exam. Best of luck if you decide to embark on this journey to learning and certifying. NVDA is, in my opinion, a revolutionary product, and it is my goal to encourage as many people as possible to use this software.