Lab: From Passive to Active: Teaching NVDA to Create Digital Access (double session)

Handouts Media

Presented at 10:00am in Virtual A on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.



  • Jordan Colbert, Assistive Technology Specialist/ATP, Disability Specialist, University of Southern California

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 2-hr
  • Format: Bring-your-own Device Workshop: Windows Laptop
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


This presentation is to provide a step-by-step curriculum for teaching Non-Visual Desktop Access to people with blindness/low vision who are not familiar with Braille. Through my developed manual, I will present the various learning stages of orienting, familiarizing, troubleshooting, exploring, and navigating the use of the NVDA screen reader.


For those with blindness/low vision (BLV), who may not know Braille or have access to refreshable braille displays, learning screen reading tools can be difficult. They must overcome multiple barriers at once: the limitations of the new visual disability, and the skill building required for the new technology. These compounding barriers further expand the digital divide, separating the person with BLV from the information they need. Clear and guided training is essential to alleviating the barrier of using this AT.

This presentation will overview the USC process for teaching the Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) screen reader to BLV students. It will overview a step-by-step process for teaching the various areas of internet use: Orienting, Familiarizing, Troubleshooting, Exploring, and Navigating. In each area, learning objectives, essential keystrokes, and actionable tasks will be presented for the assessment of user progress. Attendees will also receive the USC NVDA Training Manual.


  1. Access to electronic information, with/without accommodation, is required for participation in modern society.
  2. Newly acquired visual disabilities or new environments create multiple barriers to electronic information.
  3. Purposeful and guided screen reader training can bolster independent and effective access to information.

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Assistive Technology, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Jordan Colbert

Jordan earned his B.A. in Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California. While pursuing his B.A. he worked in collaboration with the UPenn Unit for Experimental Psychiatry and NASA on the HERA project to develop artificial intellegence for detecting depression in astronauts through facial recognition technology. While completing his Master’s-level work at USC, Jordan served as a Graduate Assistant for two years within the Disability Services and Programs Office. Following his clinical work performing existential and cognitive behavioral therapy with under served high school students, he transitioned to the role of Assistive Technology Specialist within the Disability Services and Programs. In this position, he works to provide technological solutions to disability-related learning challenges while also maintaining a caseload as a Disability Specialist. Jordan is an active voting member of ATHENS and a current Assistive Technology Professional with RESNA.