Please don’t hate us for saying this, but NVDA is better than VoiceOver at some things. Let’s talk about them.
If the name iPhoneArena isn’t enough of a giveaway, we are obviously huge fans of the macOS operating system here. Fanboying aside, we have to admit that Mac VoiceOver is far from perfect. Here are seven reasons why the NVDA beats VoiceOver. Every. Single. Time.
macOS with VoiceOver Versus Windows with NVDA Screen Reader
The argument between NVDA and VoiceOver users will probably never be settled, with each side having its own bragging rights. For example, some VoiceOver users boast about the fact that Voiceover comes pre-installed on all new Mac computers, innovations in adaptive technology like the trackpad commander, etc.
On the NVDA side of things, NV Access has made their screen reader portable, making it possible to use computers other than your own, meaning you have accessibility in your pocket!
With that in mind, we investigate 7 reasons why NVDA is better than VoiceOver. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Top reasons NVDA is better than VoiceOver
Here are 7 reasons why the NVDA is better than VoiceOver:
1. Anyone can contribute to NVDA’s code.
The Free Software movement believes that everyone should be able to view a program’s code, and modify it if needed. Because NVDA is open-source, the code is available to everyone, and developers from around the world can contribute to making NVDA even better. This allows for the freedom to research, experiment with, and implement new and innovative techniques to improve accessibility for blind and visually impaired users, as well as enabling features desirable to minorities within the blind community that aren’t met by closed source offerings.
Since Apple’s operating systems are not open source, this means Apple is the only one that can maintain the screen reader. The fact they are not is very sad, as VoiceOver has the potential to do many great things if the appropriate resources were dedicated to it. Perhaps the reason for this neglect is the extreme popularity of Apple’s mobile iOS devices, as VoiceOver on that platform is constantly refined.
2. NVDA is super simple to use
NVDA fans love their screen reader’s simplicity, and it is arguably one of the things NVDA does better than VoiceOver. There isn’t much to NVDA, and that’s part of the allure. Many NVDA lovers don’t want a screen reader they can mess around with and customize. They want a software that works well, is easy to use, and can take them to their content with the least amount of effort.
While Apple has been getting better at making VoiceOver more intuitive, the truth is it can still be a bit confusing. The learning curve for voice over is pretty steep. Not only do you need to get up and running with a new operating system, but you need to learn to use a new screen reader as well. There are lots of free resources available to the blind person who wants to learn to use VoiceOver with the Mac, but where are those resources located? Even if you manage to find all those resources, you will discover that quality and teaching style varies greatly from one to the other which is pretty confusing.
3. NVDA is generally faster and smoother
Performance is one of the things NVDA usually does better than VoiceOver. Having used both software daily for years, I can say I have encountered way fewer hiccups and slow-downs using NVDA. In my experience, NVDA is much faster, as I personally find it more responsive and intuitive than VoiceOver.
The truth is we tend to get a little lost in the specs and often forget to look at what really matters. Performance doesn’t only come from powerful specs. Whether Apple processors are better or not, what matters the most is NVDA is optimized to work perfectly with an array of windows computers.
NVDA is far superior when it comes to navigating third party applications and complex websites on the internet. Plus, while using productivity applications like word and excel, NVDA is much superior. In fact, I would claim that NVDA is at leas on par with JAWS, if not better. I have Both JAWS and NVDA on my system, and of course narrator, but I rarely use anything other than NVDA.
This is the tenth year I’ve been using NVDA in a school environment. From a simple note, to reading large books with complex structures, I’ve used NVDA. It has never disappointed me. NVDA gives the user the possibility to get the required information in a few steps, without putting too much effort, or without finding workarounds to get what you need. For instance, if you write a project and you want to proofread it, you can use skim reading. you can check the font where you will obtain the necessary information on formatting, indentation, position or effects applied on the text.
If you need to work with documents, projects, data, consider using Windows and NVDA. Buy a computer with a solid-state drive and you will have a solid device for daily use. If you need your computer for more general tasks, you may consider using a Mac.
5. NVDA is updated more
Updating software is definitely one of the things NVDA does better than VoiceOver. NVDA is updated frequently as evidenced by its publicly available list of changes and enhancements. NVDA gets two to three updates per year, and those are, of course, independent of Windows updates.
VoiceOver only gets upgraded when OS X is, which is more often than NVDA, but not every OS X update includes VoiceOver improvements. Because VoiceOver is part of the system, you must wait for Apple to update the system to see if anything has been added or fixed. With NVDA, the developers are only working on the screen reader, and they can be open about what they’re doing and what they want to do. Apple’s famous veil of secrecy means that VoiceOver users just have to wait and see what an OS X update might bring.
The thing I like most about NVDA is the wide variety of add-ons you can get for it.
NVDA addons are additional packages that can be downloaded and installed into your copy of NVDA; to enhance existing functionality, or to add additional features to your screen reader. (Just like scripts that may give extra functionality to the Jaws screen reader for a variety of tasks. Add-ons give NVDA the ability to use optical character recognition (OCR), to track changes in Microsoft Word, to use the popular Team Viewer software for sharing screens and keyboards with other users, and to track weather around the world without the difficulty of navigating websites that are not user-friendly for screen reader users. VoiceOver does not offer these kind of packages.
7. NVDA is portable
With NVDA, you can install the software on your school’s laptops, on your desktop at home, and more importantly, you can download NVDA onto a USB drive and take it wherever you go. Now, you don’t have to worry about computers having a screen reader. You have accessibility right in your pocket. As you may have guessed, Apple VoiceOver does not have this ability.
- How to Become an Efficient VoiceOver User on Mac
- 5 Reasons to Choose a Mac as a Blind Student
- Cash Reader: The Best Money Reader For The Blind
Although i certainly appreciate what Apple has done, in my experience, NVDA proves to be the more robust screen reader. I know some people belief viceversa, and I’m not trying to make this a fight or anything. But as far as overall functionality goes, VoiceOver is nowhere near NVDA. And, due to its add on support and open source nature, it will get better and better.
At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. Everyone’s needs are different, it depends on what apps we use, how our brains perceive accessibility, apps and how screen readers interpret them, the individual hardware specs of the computer, and just the overall feel and experience we want (which is very hard to put into words).
I’m curious to everyone’s thoughts on using NVDA with windows or voiceover with macs. If you have used both, which do you prefer and why? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!