Tips to help you see, hear or use your computer better

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 1/11/21

There are many things to help people with visual or physical impairments and severe disabilities to successfully use the computer.

However, messing with the settings too much can cause further issues or other annoyances, so be careful! Make slight adjustments at a time. Sometimes it takes some tweaking to get them just right. If you aren’t sure what to do, consider getting help from a computer tech, but here are some features and tips you can consider:

 

Utilize the Ease of Access tools in Windows: Windows comes with many accessibility tools to help people with various impairments or disabilities.

You can find these Ease of Access tools in the Settings app or Control Panel.


For example, you can utilize the Magnifier to zoom in. The Narrator can help tell you navigate around the screen by telling you what you’re selecting or clicking.

Visual notifications for sounds provides a closed captioning (CC) or subtitling functionality for audio sounds. Speech Recognition enables you to control the computer using voice commands.

Increase the size of all items with scaling: If you think everything on the computer screen is too small and find it difficult to see, consider increasing the scaling. It’s basically a zoom setting. In Windows, this scaling setting is represented as a percentage and is found in the Display and Ease of Access setting. Your computer typically is at 100% and putting it to 125% will increase the size of the items on the screen by 25%.

Typically, I suggest 125% and 150% as a maximum.

Change text and background colors for highcontrast: Sometimes making the items on the screen have high-contrast colors helps you see them better.

For instance, a black background with white or yellow text. You can try the default high-contrast mode of Windows by hitting the ALT + left SHFT + PRINT SCREEN keys all at once.

You can also further customize the colors to your liking in the Personalization or Ease of Access settings.

To turn off the high-contrast mode, hit those same keys again.

Get a better keyboard and/or mouse: The keyboard and mouse are also difficult for many with impairments or disabilities.

Perhaps get a keyboard with larger print or keys and/or high-contrast colors for the letters and characters, or those with backlit keys that glow. There are also track ball mouses and other input devices that might work better for some.

Utilize speech to text: If you can’t easily use a keyboard and/or mouse, consider using speech dictation software and a microphone so you can tell your computer what to do and what to type. Windows 10 comes with the Cortana feature that gives you a very basic start, but you can consider third-party software like Dragon Home (https:// www.nuance.com/dragon/ dragon-for-pc/home-edition.html).

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