Here's something kinda interesting that we discovered. Did you know that there are other screen readers around on Windows apart from the big, popular ones? They are usually somewhat known in the country they were made in, but not really known outside of it. So, in Germany you have Cobra, in Japan you have PCTalker and a few others, Brazil also has one, but its name escapes me. But the one I want to talk to you about is Zhengdu Screen Reader.
What is it and why is it worth it?
Well, it's a screen reader that comes in 2 versions, a free "public wellfair edition" and a "business/commertial edition" which has a few additional features to do with mouse navigation and braille support. 90% of its functions are available for free. You can download it from the link above, keep in mind the site is in Chinese and so you will need either to run it through google/bing or use NVDA's instant translate addon to download it. The program itself, with a few small exceptions, is in English however which is what made a few people and myself look into it further
installation and first time setup
After you download the zip file, extract the installer somewhere and run it. You will start to hear a lot of Chinese speech, which is the license agreement. If you keep your other screen reader on, you will see that the screen has a very standard inosetup installer so just hit enter or alt+N to go on. The program will start installing and play music as it does. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes at most, usually it's just about 30 seconds even on a slow, dual core system with no hyperthreadding. Eventually the music will stop and you will hear more speech. Now you have the finish button and the launch this program checkbox, which is checked by default. When the screen reader launches, it will display the quickstart dialog and start speaking. First, you will probably want to turn the punctuation to a lower setting as by default every single space is announced, as you will have probably noticed by now. Close the quickstart, and press zdsr+Z. The ZDSR key is your modifier, which just like in other SR's can be either insert key or Capslock. This opens its main menu and the first option you land on is ZDSR settings. Go ahead and press enter on it. The various options here should be pretty self explanatory but for now just keep tabbing until you hit the punctuation scheme combo box. Set it to either default or none, and press alt+A to apply your changes. Now you should be able to understand the speech better, and at any time you can go to the voice schemes dialog to change your voice. If, after you hit apply nothing happens, you will have to run ZDSR as admin. By default, it will be installed under c:\Program Files (x86)\zdsr\zdsr_pw\126.96.36.199\ (remove the x86 from that path if you're on a 32-bit system. Find ZDSRStart.exe in the list, open its properties, and on the compatibility tab, check "run this program as an administrator". Now it should be able to save its settings properly.
This list will be updated as I find things out.
ZDSR+F1 keyboard help
ZDSR+F5 refresh screen
ZDSR+F8 read mouse cursor shape
ZDSR+F9 change voice scheme
ZDSR+F10 change active soundcard
ZDSR+F12 read time, twice read date
ZDSR+2 opens cloud, which is all in Chinese and I have no idea what it does.
ZDSR+4 toggle magnifier
ZDSR+Q read currentCPU usage, twice read memory usage
ZDSR+W read webpage or document from the top
ZDSR+E clipboard editor
ZDSR+Y copy webpage source to the clipboard
ZDSR+A append the last spoken thing to the clipboard
ZDSR+G cycles between text and graphic mode for something, probably the object navigation
ZDSR+Z opens ZDSR menu
ZDSR+X copy webpage text to clipboard
ZDSR+C copy the last spoken thing to the clipboard
ZDSR+V paste from clipboard
ZDSR+left/right previous/next character of whatever was last spoken, down rereads the character[/*
ZDSR+CTRL+left/right cycles between speech attributes you can adjust, up/down does so
ZDSR+Windows+Left/right cycles between other settings that can be adjusted, up/down does so
on webpages, all your usual hotkeys to jump around apply. Things like h for heading, k for link, 1-6 for various heading level, f for form fields, e for edit boxes can all be used on their own to go forward, with shift to go back. ZDSR+space toggles between view and edit mode, the ladder turns the hotkeys off so you can type in form fields.
The numpad can be used for object navigation, though I don't understand all of it yet. The easy stuff is that zdsr+various numpad keys act just like flat review, 8/2 moves by row=line, 4/6 moves by column. numpad slash is left click, asterisk is right-click, either of them with zdsr locks the mose button down or unlocks it. In areas where there is a terminal, the numpad keys on their own allow you to read by line/character, with 1/3/7/9 moving b y larger chunks. In other cases, 7 is read to end, 8 reads the window title, 4 and 6 move you by object and 3/9 seem to move you through its children. Again, the mouse clicking commands can be used here.
Apps known to work well
App support is excellent. Mozilla apps also can be used but all the webpage navigation commands won't work. Other things known to work include Skype, all Windows apps, office suite word/excel/powerpoint, iTunes, twitter clients (nugget/tween/twblue), Total commander, Miranda NG, Megairc, puTTY, the Windows command prompt, TeamTalk, Steam, Studio recorder, the Pure basic IDE, notepad2...That's just the stuff I tried.
So, that's it for now. I would seriously give this thing a try, I was very positively surprised. It also seems to come with an RSS reader which looks very capable and I'll need to play with it more.