Tech Tips

Welcome to our Technology Tips section! The NFB Jernigan Institute Access Technology team is always on the lookout for new and better ways to give blind people access to technology, as the ever-growing International Braille and Technology Center attests. In these tips we want to share some of the pointers manufacturers and developers share with us to help you learn about new applications and new programs, and to help you find new functionality in familiar products. The Access Technology team works with the relevant manufacturers and developers to obtain the tips listed here, to make sure that you get the best and latest about anything new in the world of non-visual access technology.


If you have any feedback on the tips, please contact Clara Van Gerven at [email protected].

You should expect accessible PDF documents

NFB members frequently encounter PDF files that are not accessible. Much as with HTML-based web pages a few years back it can sometimes help to be able to provide pointers to the producer of the PDF document to help them understand how to properly create PDF documents that will offer an accessible and usable experience for all users.

Adobe provides a variety of documents that you can point people to (or use yourself when producing PDF files). These documents provide helpful guidance that help authors understand what steps are needed to make PDF files accessible, whether the documents are scanned images of paper documents, interactive forms, or are exported from popular desktop publishing applications.

The following documents are available:

Window-Eyes 6.1 and Windows Vista, Part II

In the previous NFB Tech Tip we discussed the Windows Vista Start Menu and some of the new features that offers.  In this article we are going to continue with some other, new Windows Vista features and describe how Window-Eyes provides the screen access you need.

EasyConverter Tips!

TIP #1: Using Microsoft Word with EasyConverter

Applying a heading style
Applying a heading style means assigning a specific inbuilt Microsoft Word style to the current paragraph.  How this heading style appears can be defined by you but it must be the built into the heading style that is used.  It cannot simply be the customising of normal text with different font styles.
You can apply a heading style to a paragraph in a number of ways: through the "Styles and Formatting" task pane, through the "Formatting" toolbar or through a pre-defined Microsoft Word hot key.

The pre-defined Microsoft Word hot keys are:

To apply the Heading 1 style:
Press: Ctrl + Alt + 1.

To apply the Heading 2 style:
Press: Ctrl + Alt + 2.

To apply the Heading 3 style:
Press Ctrl + Alt + 3.

Window-Eyes 6.1 and Windows Vista

GW Micro released public beta versions of Window-Eyes version 6.1 beginning on January 30, 2006 which was also the general release of Microsoft Windows Vista.  This is the first time in computer history when an MS Windows-based screen reader was available on the same day as a new operating system.  The final release of version 6.1 will follow shortly, but this series of articles highlights features which apply both to the public beta as well as the final release of version 6.1.

Victor Reader Stream Tech Tip: Bookmark Alert

This Tech Tip requires Stream software version 3.0. To update your Stream to version 3.0 visit: 
and select the link to download the latest software.

Smartphones and Smart Hal

Smart Hal is a screen reader for Windows Mobile 5 and Mobile 6 Smartphones.  The first thing you might think is "Wonderful, I can access my phone!" The second thought you might have is, "What is the difference between a Smartphone and a cell phone?" This article will take you through what you'll find on a Smartphone and how Smart Hal works with these great features.

Dolphin Tips on Forms Mode, Application Notes and Magnification Modes

Tip:  Using Forms on the Internet

Turning on Forms Mode

Did you know that when using virtual focus, turning "forms mode" on in Supernova/Hal 6.03 or later will allow you to type text in web page forms? To turn on "forms mode", either (a) press Caps Lock and Enter whilst on a web page or (b) go to the Supernova/Hal control panel, select the "File" menu, select "Situation Settings" and then select "Forms mode" by highlighting it and pressing the SPACEBAR. Now you will find as you tab around a web page in virtual focus you will be able to enter text into forms, search and other edit areas.

HumanWare's BrailleNote mPower and BrailleNote PK can now access RFB&D AudioPlus DAISY Books

HumanWare's US customers can now use their built-in BrailleNote DAISY book reader to access the more than 100,000 AudioPlus'  books available from RFB&D®. Because these books are password protected, they require special software to play. This software is enabled in KeySoft 7.21 build 54.

When you have installed the software, follow these steps to play the RFB&D® AudioPlus® books on your BrailleNote:

1. If you are not already a member, apply for membership of the RFB&D® library. The application forms are available at

Working with Documents in Dolphin SuperNova and Hal

Reading and editing documents with SuperNova/Hal couldn't be easier. As you navigate through the text, SuperNova/Hal reads the text underneath your cursor out loud one letter, word or line at a time, depending on which navigation keys you press.

Move the cursor left or right and each character will be announced.  Move one word at a time by pressing CONTROL + CURSOR LEFT or RIGHT and each word will be announced.  And, by moving to a new line using CURSOR UP or CURSOR DOWN the line will be announced.

Do you want more information? SuperNova/Hal contains an array of speak keys that go beyond giving you just the character, word or line announcement.  These are all multikey commands.

Victor Reader Stream: FAQ

Q. Are NLS books now available for download?

A. NLS has recently opened an expanded pilot download site of digital talking books and magazines for NLS patrons who are registered for NLS service by their local library, who have a computer and high speed Internet connection to download the books, and who also have an NLS authorized digital book player capable of playing the NISO books downloaded from the NLS server.    

Q. Who qualifies for NLS talking book service?

A. Only residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard print materials as a result of a temporary or permanent visual, physical limitation may receive NLS audio book services.  Each individual must be certified first before accessing the NLS audio book services.