Tag Archives: accessibility

How to Adjust Screen Resolution in Windows

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Screen resolution refers to the size of the whole image that is displayed on your monitor. It specifically refers to the number of individual pixels that are shown at once. The more pixels on your screen the more detailed your images will be. With less pixels, the elements will look larger… but there will be a lot less space on the desktop for programs to run.

Your monitor has a native resolution – unless it’s an older model. Most LCD monitors these days can display a lot of different resolutions, but the native one always looks the best. This is because that is the resolution that matches the number of pixels inside of your display. Any other resolution might look a bit distorted since the number of pixels used won’t match the actual number in the display.

However, there are times when you may need to change your resolution to make it easier for you to see properly. Our monitors have an optimal resolution setting that works best for the monitor – but it may not work best for our eyes. Changing up the resolution is a pretty simple matter, thankfully. Before adjusting the resolution settings, make sure your display drivers and monitor drivers are up to date.

To change your resolution in Windows 7, right-click on your desktop and then choose “Screen Resolution.” You will find a drop-down menu next to the word “resolution,” showing you all of the different resolutions that your monitor can support. Further down on that same screen, you will see blue words: “Make text and other items larger or smaller.” Clicking here will help you quickly and permanently adjust your font and image size to meet your vision needs. Additionally, you can temporarily change text size on a page by holding down your CTRL key and scrolling the mouse wheel in or out.

Again on that same screen, clicking on the blue words “What display settings should I choose?” takes you to a Help topic which explains each of the changes you can make in detail. This page can help you make decisions on choosing color settings, brightness and contrast settings and more.

Microsoft has put together a fantastic tutorial to show you all of the ways you can customize your Windows 7 installation to meet your particular accessibility needs.

Unlock the iPad Zoom Feature

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Even with the larger screen on the iPad, some people may have trouble reading what’s in front of them. There are a countless number of people who have impaired vision, and Apple kept them in mind. It’s quite easy to zoom in on anything you may be looking at on the device.

All you need to do is double-tap the screen with three fingers… then slide your fingers upwards until the zoom is where you want it to be. To go back to normal size, double-tap with those three fingers again and then slide them down. This works throughout the operating system – no matter what application you may be using.

If you try to zoom in or out with only one or two fingers, nothing happens. You have to use all three fingers. This will keep you from accidentally zooming in and out all of the time. This feature is not enabled by default. Go into your options and choose “Accessibility”. You can toggle it on from there.

Additionally, you can turn on the “White on Black” mode, which changes the way everything looks for those of you who have trouble reading black text on white backgrounds.

These may seem to be small details that you might feel aren’t important. However, they are VERY important to those of us who have bad eyes. The little things like this can help a device stand out about its rivals.

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Five Tips in Making a Visually Accessible Website

Geek!This is C.S. McClendon’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

We live in an ever changing world; a world that is becoming increasingly entangled in the web, and for the majority of the populous that is not such a bad development. In fact I would be willing to say that there is something good on the web for everyone so long as you know where and how to find it. For those people with certain visual disabilities however, the internet can be a very difficult place to navigate.

I have decided to put together this list of the top five things you as a web designer can do to make your site easier on those of your visitors who might otherwise have a difficult time. Please take the time to read this article and you might just find that with a few simple steps you can open your site up to whole new lanes of traffic.

  1. Contrary to popular belief, size is important. Now I’m not talking about the amount of content you include in your site; rather text size and the like. For instance, with a few clicks of your mouse or extra key strokes you can make the text size of your website larger; therefore much more easily read by the elderly and otherwise visually impaired. I recommend that you don’t stop there with only the text elements of your site; with the right program and a little digital manipulation you can also enlarge such things as pictures and diagrams.
  2. Roam the wide open spaces. Now I know this goes against convention, but you might want to give more than just a passing thought to double spacing your pages. You remember those – pages like your professors used to insist on for your research papers and such in high school and college? Take it from someone with more than a little experience in this particular area – a little space goes a long way toward making a crowded page a lot easier to read.
  3. Think contrary in contrast. Remember art class in school where you got to play with the color wheel? See if you can find one still hiding in a drawer somewhere – if not you can use the one at http://www.northlite.net/ps/images/color_wheel.gif. Now that you have a working color wheel, take a close look at it. See how those colors closest together tend to blend into one another? Now, if we were talking about painting your house that might be a good thing – but when your trying to make your web page easier to read for those in need, you will want to steer yourself closer to the opposite ends of the wheel. Remember the old adage; good fences make good neighbors.

  4. In the world of style, options are kings. Modern browsers such as Firefox or Internet Explorer use a nifty feature called style sheets. They also allow the enterprising designer to create multiple style sheets for a single page. These style sheets can be used to change the color scheme, the text size, and even the layout of the pages; giving the visitor the opportunity to choose the options that work best for them. The more options you as the designer provide, the more likely there is to be one that suits the visually challenged user.
  5. KISS. Keep it simple… sir (after all there is no reason to be impolite). The bells and whistles of modern technology may indeed make for a more visually stimulating site, but this creates a problem for those with visual difficulties, effectively making your site difficult to navigate. Coding your site for copyright protection may keep the disreputable from stealing your content and making it their own, but it will also make it impossible for most screen readers and other text-to-speech programs to work in favor of your viewers, as a good many of such programs rely on the ability to copy and paste the text that needs to be read.

If you are feeling ambitious, there is certainly a lot you can do to code your site so it can be accessible to those who are visually impaired. You can create the ability for it to read itself to your viewer, provide vocal cues for every link, event, or menu. There are several software options such as MASH (Microsoft Agent Scripting Helper) that will help you do such things – but the things I mention here are some of the simplest and often quickest options that will make your site as easy as possible for the visually impaired viewer – who could stumble into or come looking for the content that you have to offer.

Yes, I wrote this article and offered this advice with those like myself in mind; but hopefully in doing so I will have helped more than a few of you – on both sides of the page.

Windows Vista Accessibility Options

So, like… I’ve been dealing with thirteen private threads with fifteen different people I know at Microsoft RE: my recent problems with Vista. Some are quite sympathetic, and others don’t really understand why I’ve been so frustrated. Either way, I appreciate their friendship – including a new friend in Dean Rowe, who helped me through my Windows Movie Maker problem (which turned out to be “enabled” codecs that I had previously disabled to avoid conflicts). Then, there’s Charlie “Ecosystem” Owen – who has not only been quite tolerant of my concerns, but has taken the time to answer some of the questions I’ve passed along to him. Take the example of Emily Green, who commented on one of my earlier Vista posts. She was concerned that her accessibilty apps weren’t working in Windows Vista. Charlie responded directly to her:

It appears the makers of ZoomText are busy creating a Windows Vista compatible version and currently have a beta experience you can test. If you visit their website and select the ‘Support for Windows Vista, Dual Monitors and more …’ link in the bottom /left of the page you can fill out a survey (which is why I can’t simply send you a hyperlink here in this email) to gain access to their beta software which does work with Windows Vista.

According to the producer of Jaws’ website, this product supports Windows Vista – but it seems they mean they have a beta available which requires a bit of work by the user.

Do keep in mind beta software typically has bugs and may not have all features complete and therefore might not work as expected. If you choose to upgrade to Windows Vista (or it came preinstalled on your new computer) it appears you may at least have some alternatives to try if the built in accessibility features in Windows Vista does not meet your needs while these companies develop fully compatible versions. By my reading of their web information, it seems only a matter of time before these two programs are available to you on Windows Vista. And…the time might be shorter than we think given both of these companies have beta experiences working, and a pretty good list of known issues.

We strive to make application compatibility a priority and do a relatively good job considering the extremely large number of applications developed on Windows. In fact, I posted about where we were successful at maintaining application compatibility with a program written for Windows 95 – no changes needed . But…we can always do a better job – and your feedback helps us do that. Please feel free to route any wishes, praise or curses (ha ha ha) through me – if I am not the feature owner I’ll be sure to forward it personally to that person on your behalf.

Charlie didn’t have to do that. Dean didn’t have to do that. There are thousands of Microsoft employees who don’t have to do the things they do – but when they reach out to the community in this fashion, I’m more than impressed. I don’t disagree with Charlie’s statement about beta software, but I’ve seen plenty of “final” software that’s been more than buggy.