Basic Tips for Computer Users with Low Vision

Basic Tips for Computer Users with Low Vision Computers seem to be getting more and more complex, and with new versions of Windows and Microsoft Office coming out every couple of years, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes performing even a basic task like checking e-mail or opening a file on your computer can be difficult because of the hard-to-read text and icons used by Windows and most computer programs. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make your Windows PC more accessible. Below are some basic tips for how to configure a PC to make it more accessible for users with low vision, including information on how to change the display colors and increase the size of the on-screen text in Windows, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox. Improving the Accessibility of Windows There are a number of settings you can change in Windows to make the text and icons larger and easier to see. All versions of Windows use “themes,” which set the color and size of the system text. This setting applies to the Start menu, the desktop, and My Computer and My Documents. The default theme uses fairly small type in a white-on-black scheme, but this can be changed to something that might better suit your needs. *In Windows XP, modify this setting by following these steps: 1. Open the Start menu and select Settings. Under Settings, open the Control Panel. 2. In the Control Panel, open Display. 3. In the Display dialog box, select the Appearance tab, which is located in the row across the top of the window. 4. One of the items under Appearance is Color Scheme. There are four different high contrast color schemes to choose from. Keep selecting “H” until you find a scheme that works well for you, then select Enter. 5. There is a drop down menu directly underneath Color Scheme called Font Size, where you can increase the size of the text in Windows. If the settings you find here don’t work for you, select the Advanced button and choose your own color combinations and text sizes. *Windows Vista and Windows 7 both have a feature called the Ease of Access Center, which replaces and improves the Accessibility Tools found in earlier versions of Windows. Follow these steps to open the Ease of Access Center: 1. Open the Start menu and select the Control Panel 2. In the Control Panel, open the Ease of Access Center. Once the Center opens, you can activate accessibility tools, such as Magnifier or Narrator, and change the fonts and colors used by Windows. 3. Select “Get recommendations to make your computer easier to use.” This will bring up a wizard that will ask you a series of questions and automatically change the text size and color settings based on your answers. In all versions of Windows, the changes made to the text size using the above steps will affect text created by Windows, which includes the Start menu, desktop, My Documents, My Computer, and the top title bar for all programs. It will not affect the size of text in webpages, Word documents, or most other programs. The changes to the color scheme, however, will carry over to web browsers and Microsoft Office, in addition to the desktop, Start menu, My Computer, and My Documents. Be warned, however, that there will still be some non-Microsoft programs that will use their own color scheme. Improving the Accessibility of Web Browsers There are ways to make sure that nearly every webpage uses high-contrast colors and larger text. To do so, follow the steps below for your preferred web browser: Internet Explorer 1. Pull down the Tools menu and pick Internet Options 2. A new window should open up. In this new window, choose the “Accessibility” button by pressing Alt-E. 3. Check the boxes labeled “Ignore font styles specified on Web pages” and “Ignore font sizes specified on Web pages.” Select “OK” in the dialog box and again in the Internet Options dialog box. This will return you to the page you were viewing. 4. Now, whenever you want to increase or decrease the size of the text on a webpage, pull down the View menu (Alt-V) and select Text Size (X). Here, you can choose any option, ranging from largest to smallest. If you select largest, all pages will display an enlarged text size (size will fluctuate from page to page). Mozilla Firefox 1. Pull down the Tools menu and pick Options 2. A new window should open up. Choose the “Content” tab, which is located in the row across the top of the window. 3. Choose the style and size you prefer using the Default Font and Size drop down menus. 4. Select the “Advanced” button to the right of the Size drop down menu. In this new dialog box, make sure the box for “Allow pages to choose their own fonts” is unchecked. Select “OK.” 5. Now, you should be back in the Content options for Firefox. Below the “Advanced” button there is a button labeled “Colors” where you can adjust the font and background colors used by Firefox. In the Colors window, choose the colors that you would prefer, and make sure that the box for “Allow pages to choose their own colors” is unchecked. Select “OK” to return to the webpage you were viewing. 6. The pages should now be using the fonts and colors you specified. You can increase the size of text on screen any time by hitting Ctrl +, or by going into View and selecting Zoom. *Windows Eight: Windows 8 can be frustrating because nothing seems to be where it used to be. Here are >Two tricks that help you find things. They will make ordinary tasks much easier to carry out. 1. Quick and easy way to access all the settings in Windows 8 One of the annoyances of Windows 8 is trying to find all the various system settings. Here is a way to make them readily available in one big list. 1. Go to the Desktop 2. Right-click an empty spot on the Desktop 3. Choose “New-Folder” 4. Give the folder this name: All Settings .{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} 5. Open the folder to see a complete list of settings (This works in Windows 7 also where it is sometimes called “God Mode”.) If using a screenreader, to create an empty place which is the same as unselecting anything on the desktop, do the following: Go to the desktop. Hold down the control key and tap the space spacebar until you hear an incon’s name spoken followed by “unselected.” Then follow all the other steps mentioned above regarding creating the folder. 2. How to shut Down Windows 8 quickly Shutting down Windows 8 the usual way involves multiple steps. You have to open the Charms bar, click “Settings”, then “Power”, and finally “Shut down”. Here is how to create a desktop shortcut that will reduce these four steps to just one. 1. For mouse users; a. Go to the Desktop b. Right-click an empty spot on the Desktop c. Choose “New-Shortcut” d. Go to the line labelled “Type the location of the item.” e. Enter: shutdown.exe -s -t 0 (The last character is “zero”.) f. Click “Next” g. Type a name like Shutdown h. Click “Finish” 2. For keyboard users: a. Go to the Desktop (windows key plus letter m) b. Hold down the control key and tap spacebar until hearing an icon’s name followed by “unselected.” c. Press the letter w until hearing “new” followed by tapping enter. d. Press the letter s for shortcut. e. You are placed into an edit field. Enter the following: shutdown.exe -s -t 0 (The last character is “zero”.) f. Press enter or tab to next and h it enter. g. Type a name like Shutdown h. Tab to next and hit enter. The sshortcut is now made. You can creat a hotkey for this shortcut. a. highlight the new shortcut. b. Press the application key or shift plus f10. c. Press the letter r. d. Tab until reaching “hotkey field equals none.” This is usually pressing tab twice. e. Press the letter s followed by tapping enter. Now pressing alt plus control plus the letter s will shut down the computer. >15 Essential Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts 1. Windows Key + C: Displays Charms menu. 2. Windows Key + X: Brings up a menu of advanced system options, including Windows Control Panel, Command Prompt, Task Manager and File Explorer. 3. Windows Key + I: Displays the Settings menu for the current app. For example, if you’re in Internet Explorer 10, this key shows Internet options. If you’re on the Start menu, it shows general OS settings. One of the Charms is Settings. To avoid calling out the Charms bar then choosing Settings it’s possible to go directly to Settings: Windows +I. This will reveal the Power button, too. Click on that to reveal the Sleep, Shut down and Restart options, options users say are way too hard to find. 4. Windows Key + Q: Brings up the apps search menu that allows you to search your list of installed programs. 5. Windows Key + D: Activates desktopDescription: Description: mode. 6. Windows Key + Tab: Brings up the Task Switcher and toggles between Windows 8-style apps. 7. Windows Key + H: Brings up Share menu for the current app. For example, hitting Windows Key + H in Bing Maps, lets you email or share map information on social networksDescription: Description: If you are in an application and want to email or share its content with someone on a social network, hit Windows + H. 8. Windows Key + M: Opens desktop mode and minimizes all windows. 9. Windows Key + W: Opens universal search menu and sets it to search settings. 10. Windows Key + F: Opens universal search menu and sets it to search files. 11. Windows Key + R: Opens Run menu where you can launch programs by typing in their executable file names. 12. Windows Key + E: Opens File Explorer to the “My Computer” view which shows all your drives. 13. Windows Key +Number Key (1-9): Switch to desktop mode and make the Nth application on the task bar active where N is the number key you hit and 1 is the furthest taskbar icon to the left. 14. Windows Key + . (period key): Docks the current Windows 8-style application to the right or left, depending on how many times you hit it. 15. Windows Key + Z: Brings up app menu, which shows contextual options for the active app. * > Windows magnifier hotkeys There is a “to do this” and “press this key” columns along with nine rows in this table. Use tab and shift plus tab to move between the columns. Use up/down arrows to move through the rows. Windows logo key Description: Description: Windows logo key+plus (+) or minus (-) To do this Zoom in or out Press this key Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar To do this Preview the desktop in full-screen mode Press this key Ctrl+Alt+D To do this Switch to docked mode Press this key Ctrl+Alt+F To do this Switch to full-screen mode Press this key Ctrl+Alt+I To do this Invert colors Press this key Ctrl+Alt+L To do this Switch to lens mode Press this key Ctrl+Alt+R To do this Resize the lens Press this key Ctrl+Alt+arrow keys To do this Pan in the direction of the arrow keys Press this key Windows logo key Description: Description: Windows logo key+Esc To do this Exit Magnifier Description: Description: expcol_imgs Closing Comments These tips are designed to help you take advantage of the built-in tools offered by Windows and web browsers. While changing the color themes and text size can go a long way towards making the text and icons on the computer easier to see, adjusting these settings still falls short of the accessibility and comfort provided by a standalone screen magnifier such as ZoomText. Experiment with your screen magnifier and the settings described above to find the solution that best suit your needs.]]>

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