Changing Braille Settings with NVDA – TTT Companion

Person using braille display.

Don’t want to read?

Written By Daniel Geisen

Here at eye.t, Daniel primarily works on providing written resources for TVIs and educators. As an educator himself, Daniel knows how important it is to be able to provide equal opportunities to all learners. This is one of the many reasons, Daniel is all in with eye.t. When Daniel is not working alongside the eye.t team, he really enjoys being outdoors and dabbling in creative writing. P.S. Daniel is also an avid fan of the Cincinnati Reds.

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Published on

June 11, 2024


✔︎ CHECK Before moving on, is your learner familiar with the use of the NVDA key? This is an important component we will use during today’s lesson. For further information, watch the Tech Tip Tuesday video on the NVDA key.

Ready for Efficiency

✔︎ READ the following story aloud to your learner.

Q is currently working on a project for his English 7 class covering the topic of “autobiography.” The expectation from his teacher, Ms. T, is that students will write a one and a half page autobiography demonstrating the major points in their stories so far. This significant assignment is due on Thursday. Q is really excited about the opportunity to share his story, even though it will require a lot of work on his part to meet the one and a half page expectation.

Until this point, Q has used “uncontracted braille” on his display for the NVDA reader he is using. While it has been helpful and effective, Q is feeling the need to make his work happen at a quicker pace. After all, English 7 isn’t the only class assigning homework near the end of the third quarter. Q remains excited about his autobiography, but he wonders how he can manage his homework load with more efficiency.

✔︎ DISCUSS the guiding question, “What reasons would cause you to change your braille display settings?”


Why You Might Change the Settings

✔︎ PLAY from 0:23-0:53

Teacher’s Notes: Q is hardly the first person to ask how to make a workload more manageable. People tend to seek efficient ways of doing their work, whether for school or for their careers. If your learner is using NVDA, there are plenty of options for making a screen reader work to their benefit. The question is, what scenarios might prompt a change in the settings. Here are a couple of practical reasons a learner might adjust their settings—

  1. Your learner might want to switch their display from contracted to uncontracted braille, or vice versa! Different settings might require different needs. For example, if your learner wants to type more efficiently, then contracted braille could be helpful.
  2. Perhaps your learner is doing some coding. Adjusting the braille display to view code in computer braille would certainly help.
  1. Are you familiar with the braille display settings in NVDA? (If not, guide your learner through the settings). 
  2. What is a situation where you might want to adjust the settings in your experience?

How to Change Your Settings

✔︎ PLAY from 0:54-1:55

Teacher’s Notes: Changing the settings on NVDA is a key to success whether your learner is utilizing these ideas in a classroom, the workplace, or at home. Now we are going to walk through the steps for accessing the settings and then adjusting the settings themselves. 

  • To begin, we need to access the NVDA menu. To do this simply press the NVDA key + N. 
  • From here, go to Preferences and then Settings. 

Teacher’s Notes: One of the important things to note is that the sidebar (on the left) is what your learner will use to navigate the main categories of “Settings.” These main categories include things such as speech, braille, vision, and keyboard. To navigate the main categories for the settings, you can use the “up” and “down” arrow keys. 

  1. Which settings do you want to try adjusting? Give your learner a few minutes to explore their options.

Efficiency Achieved

✔︎ READ the remainder of the story aloud to your learner.

As Q starts to outline his own story for the autobiography assignment, he learns from his TVI that he can adjust the settings on his braille display to work to his advantage. One of the most helpful ideas he learns is that he can switch the settings from uncontracted to contracted braille. This allows him to type his autobiography with a lot more ease and saves him a lot of time. As Thursday comes, Q feels relieved that he was able to not only write the whole page and a half, but he is glad that this wasn’t a burden thanks to the ability to change the NVDA settings. 

Activity – A Short Bio

✔︎ PLAY from 2:06-3:22

For this activity, work with your learner to help them write a short biography of themselves (this can be as simple as a paragraph). Here are the steps for the activity:

  1. Access the braille settings on NVDA. Make sure your learner can navigate the menus by cycling with “Tab.”
  2. Have them write the bio once in “contracted braille” and again in “uncontracted braille.”

Tip: KEY REMINDER—Grade 1 is uncontracted and Grade 2 is contracted.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve improved your NVDA skills, you should keep expanding them through registering for our Fall Cohort! With our Internet Navigation Program, you get the ability to cover all aspects of teaching a user to navigate the internet using JAWS, NVDA, Chromevox or VoiceOver for Mac, learning our 3 navigation sequences. In addition, you’ll get a year access to our Screen Reader Curriculum, 6 hours of live instruction, and a certificate of completion for professional development. Make sure you secure a seat, click here to sign up!

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