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  • 27/12/2022

Ray Saitz: Making your computer or mobile device easier to see

Numerous people with vision problems struggle to accomplish many of the computer tasks often taken for granted, such as reading a webpage, typing a document, selecting icons on the desktop, or discerning various colours. Luckily, there are software tools and settings which can try to remove the hurdles faced by anyone with a vision problem or other disability who wants to use a computer or mobile device.

The icons on the Windows desktop present the first obstacle to anyone who is visually impaired and one possible solution is to make the icons larger. Right click on an empty area of the desktop, then View, and select the command for Large Icons.

For other vision-related problems Windows has settings and tools which can try to compensate for various disabilities. Click on the Start button, go into Settings, and open Ease of Access in Windows 10 or Accessibility in Win 11. You’ll see a list of areas in which you can make numerous adjustments. In Display you can change the size of text and apps on the whole computer whereas Magnifier is handy for enlarging selected areas. Colour filters compensate for problems relating to colour blindness and changing the contrast of the screen can make everything easier to see.

If you have problems keeping track of the mouse cursor on the screen, go into the mouse settings and make the mouse cursor larger or change its colour to red or another easily seen colour.

I suggest that you wander around in the accessibility settings and experiment with making changes. Every change can be quickly undone and help is available for Windows versions 7 to 11 at the Microsoft Accessibility Support site (https://tinyurl.com/4ms2m758).

Ray Saitz: Making your computer or mobile device easier to see

If you or a family member have difficulty seeing or navigating the small screen on a smartphone or tablet, there are accessibility settings and tools on your mobile device to help anyone with vision, physical and motor, or hearing disabilities. On an iPad or iPhone open Settings and then Accessibility. Apple has comprehensive help for all areas at its Accessibility help website (https://tinyurl.com/2p8j5muh).

Similarly, go into Settings on your Android device and access the accessibility settings. A problem is that not all Android devices have the same options, although Google does have a help site which you should check for common settings and explanations (https://tinyurl.com/raj8tt46).

One accessibility tool which all devices and Windows have is the ability to read aloud the text on the screen in a document or webpage. In the Windows accessibility settings open the area for Narrator to find the settings and how to turn it on with a keyboard shortcut. There is also a Microsoft website guide to Narrator (https://tinyurl.com/bdeah7yz).

However, there is a somewhat hidden feature built-in to Windows 10 and 11 called Voice Typing which will convert your speech into typing in almost any app on the computer. You open the dictation toolbar by using the Windows logo key and H key in combination. I found that it worked very well although go to the Help site at https://tinyurl.com/2p84j577 to learn how to add punctuation and make corrections.

The iPad and iPhone have several ways of reading text on the screen but I found the easiest to set up was the Speak Screen option of Spoken Content in the accessibility settings.

Your Android device may have a feature called Talk Back which is described at the Google help site (https://tinyurl.com/4rdh7vjd) but my Samsung phone did not have it. Instead I was advised to install an app from the Google Play Store called Voice Access (https://tinyurl.com/yha5cpz7) which will read the screen and also convert speech to text.

There is an easy method to use voice dictation to typing on either the iPad, iPhone, or Android devices which is to open the keyboard to begin typing and click on the microphone icon on the keyboard. You can then speak and have your words converted to text, although you should check the Apple help site (https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT208343) or the Google GBoard keyboard site (https://tinyurl.com/27efxjrm) to get instructions for adding punctuation.