DictationBridge Release Candidate For NVDA Now Available For Download

The DictationBridge team is proud to announce the immediate release of DictationBridge 1.0 Release Candidate 1 for the NVDA version. You can download the software and start using it with NVDA right now. If you’re interested, you can read the documentation here to learn everything it has to offer. We expect the JAWS version to be coming soon so please stay tuned for updates on that part of this project.

DictationBridge For NVDA At A Glance

DictationBridge For NVDA is a fully featured add-on for the world’s most rapidly growing screen reader. Serving as a gateway between you, the NVDA screen reader and either Dragon Naturally Speaking or Windows Speech Recognition, DictationBridge will change how you work with computers using voice recognition.

The following is a list of the features that our team thinks are most important, but please remember this is a very partial list of the entire package. The complete list of features can be found our documentation and we’re certain you will find many of the other features and details compelling too.

Our Favorite Things About DictationBridge for NVDA

The following are key highlights of DictationBridge for NVDA that the team who created it feel are most important:

  • Dictationbridge for NVDA (obviously) works with NVDA, the screen reader commonly used by more than 40%of Windows screen reader users worldwide. Prior to DictationBridge, NVDA users had no accessible way to control either Windows Speech Recognition or the Dragon line of products from Nuance and now they have access to both.
  • DictationBridge for NVDA and its soon to be public JAWS sibling do not change your screen reader setup in any way unrelated to dictation. If you install an NVDA or JAWS update, it will not effect the version of DictationBridge designed for your screen reader and DictationBridge will in turn not change any plug-ins or scripts, including the defaults when you install it. With DictationBridge, there’s no more waiting for your dictation support to catch up with the latest version of your screen reader and there’s no potential for DictationBridge to accidentally insert bugs into the default behavior of your Screen Reader of choice.
  • DictationBridge for both NVDA and JAWS provide all of the features a user would expect in a fully featured dictation plug-in or set of scripts and configurations. DictationBridge echoes back the text you’ve dictated, it provides access to the user interface for both Windows Speech Recognition and the entire line of Dragon products and includes a full sweet of other cool features you can read about [in the DictationBridge documentation.
  • DictationBridge for NVDA is the first ever dictation solution for screen readers to include an extensive collection of verbal commands that users can employ to control their screen reader and do various other tasks with the Dragon line of products from Nuance, as well as with Windows Speech Recognition. The DictationBridge team designed this part of the package to make it very easy to add new commands and to modify those that we provide. It even supports navigating the entire web with only speech!
  • DictationBridge, NVDA and Windows Speech Recognition are all available at no cost to end-users, their educators, their employers, governments or anyone else.
  • Care has been taken while developing DictationBridge to ensure that it can be easily translated into languages other than English. This affords DictationBridge the possibility to be translated into any of the 35 languages supported by Windows Speech Recognition, and any of the more than 43 languages supported by NVDA which correspond with those supported by Windows Speech Recognition. Whether you’re dictating in a language other than English, or whether your entire Windows interface is in a language other than English, you’ll be able to use DictationBridge in your preferred language once there is a translation available for it, without maintaining separate software licenses for your screen reader to cover non-English interfaces. We believe all blind people, no matter where they live or what language they speak natively should have access to the software they need and DictationBridge is a part of that overall goal.
  • Because DictationBridge is free, libre open source software (FLOSS), it is not only available gratis to all who care to use it, DictationBridge affords the community the freedom to add to, modify, learn from, repurpose or do anything else they care to do with the software moving forward. People with programming skills can look at the source code as it currently stands at this GitHub repository. DictationBridge provides true freedom with a lower case “f.”
  • Documentation is just as important as the software itself. You will find DictationBridge’s documentation to be among the highest quality available you’ve ever read.

Some Kudos To Our Team

The DictationBridge team had more than a dozen official members and a lot of help from individuals throughout the community to get the software to where it is today. We would like to recognize some of the people who did a lot of the heavy lifting over the more than two years that have transpired as this project went from idea to plan to funding to a release candidate.

We ask that readers congratulate the three people who started this project as without them, it would have never happened. Pranav Lal has handled almost all of the day to day management of this project and has been helping carry it on his back since day one. Lucy Greco has been the project spokesperson from the beginning and has fought harder for the DB users than anyone else on the team; simply put, DictationBridge is a profoundly better software package because of Lucy’s determination. Last but not at all least is Amanda Rush, she’s a WordPress consultant who has had to put up with demands about our site from literally every other member of the team for more than a year and a half at this point. These three people are why and to a large extent how we were able to bring DictationBridge to the public.

Matt Campbell has led the engineering team from the beginning and brought his tremendous low level Windows hacking skills to the project. , Mallory Van Achterberg handled most of the day to day management of the crowdfunding effort and without her diligence, we would have never made our goal. Derek Riemer joined the team late in the game, took over the NVDA scripting tasks and the software grew better by leaps and bounds with his contributions both in writing code and providing advice to the rest of the team. Sean Pharaoh joined the team when the JAWS version was floundering and has contributed to the common core code shared by both NVDA and JAWS as well as writing the scripts for the latter. Erin Lauridsen (now of San Francisco Lighthouse) was our original documentation leader and got the ball rolling and Joseph Lee joined the documentation team and took over its leadership making the DictationBridge documentation as good as any we’ve ever read in the blindness space. Patrick Kelly, Sue Martin, Austin Hicks, Tyler Spivey and Bryan Smart all made contributions that helped bring this software to our community. Finally, we would like to recognize The Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco, or what the rest of us call San Francisco Lighthouse. SFL gave us our largest single contribution funding 25% of our goal, Lucy Greco announced the launch of the project at a Lighthouse Labs meeting in 2016, Erin Lauridsen, now Director of Access Technology at SFL, led our documentation team before leaving us to take on this terrific new job and everyone around SFL has been tremendously supportive of our efforts throughout this long journey.

How You Can Help

This is the release candidate for DictationBridge for NVDA version 1.0. A number of our team members plan on continuing to work on future versions of DictationBridge, to add even more new features and to ensure its compatibility with the Windows operating system and updates to the dictation utilities from Nuance and Microsoft. The $20,000 we raised to do DB 1.0 has been exhausted so we will be trying to raise money to do DictationBridge 1.1 and 2.0 versions and would certainly appreciate a contribution of any sum.

More than money, though, we need people who are interested in joining the team to help out in any number of ways. The first and most obvious thing you can do is to download the RC1, give it a try and please report any bugs you find so we can turn this from an RC into a full release.

Known Problems

  • At this time, the DictationBridge spoken commands for Dragon Pro will only work with Dragon versions 15 and higher. The team is exploring whether we can get them working with Dragon 13 and 14 but are uncertain if we will be able to get this done before final release. We recommend users upgrade to the latest version of Dragon Pro for use with DictationBridge in the future.

Over the two years that have passed since DictationBridge was an idea to it becoming actual software, we’ve had a number of personnel changes and a few of the key team members have moved onto new full time jobs so won’t be available to work on the next versions of DictationBridge. Thus, if you’re interested in helping writing/debugging C++ code, Python NVDA plug-in code, helping with documentation, helping with translations, testing the software, writing up new feature ideas, helping out as an informal tech support person on DictationBridge’s mailing list, learning tips and tricks of low level Windows hacking or nearly anything else that contributes to a software development project, please write to us and we’ll find you something to do. With your help, we can widen the dictation gateway that is DictationBridge, your screen reader, and dictation software.

We urge you to join the ever growing family of NVDA activists, help DictationBridge move into the future and help the community of blind people take control of our own technology destinies. By helping DictationBridge or any other NVDA related project, you are helping yourself, you are helping the tens of thousands of other NVDA users and you are helping the community take control of what is now only in the hands of a few primarily sighted gatekeepers. Please, join this movement and enjoy the true freedom it will afford you and the entire community of blind people worldwide. And last but not least, please download and test DictationBridge, and tell your friends.