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Make items on the screen appear bigger with Magnifier in Windows 7

Magnifier enlarges different parts of the screen. This is especially useful for viewing objects that are difficult to see, but also for seeing the whole screen more easily.

To open Magnifier:

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Ease of Access, then click on Magnifier.

There are three modes:

  • Full-screen mode. In full-screen mode, your entire screen is magnified. You can then have Magnifier follow the mouse pointer.
  • Lens mode. In lens mode, the area around the mouse pointer is magnified. When you move the mouse pointer, the area of the screen that's magnified moves along with it.
  • Docked mode. In docked mode, only a portion of the screen is magnified, leaving the rest of your desktop in a normal state. You can then control which area of the screen is magnified.

Note:

  • Full-screen mode and lens mode are only available as part of the Aero experience. If your computer doesn't support Aero, or if you're using a theme other than an Aero theme, Magnifier will only work in docked mode.
  1. On the Views menu, click the mode that you want to use.
  2. Move the pointer to the part of the screen that you want to magnify.

Note:

To exit Magnifier, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Esc.

When you're using full-screen mode, you can quickly preview your entire desktop by clicking the Views menu, and then clicking Preview full screen.

For a list of keyboard shortcuts that you can use with Magnifier, see the following links:

General keyboard shortcuts
Natural keyboard shortcuts
Dialog box keyboard shortcuts
Accessibility keyboard shortcuts
Windows explorer keyboard shortcuts

To choose where Magnifier focuses

Click the Options button , and then select the option that you want:

 

Option

Description

Follow the mouse pointer

Displays the area around the mouse pointer in the Magnifier window. When you select this option, you can choose to have the Magnifier window move when the mouse pointer approaches or when the mouse pointer hits the edge of the Magnifier window.

Follow the keyboard focus

Displays the area around the pointer when you press the Tab or arrow keys.

Have Magnifier follow the text insertion point

Displays the area around the text that you're typing.

To change the zoom level

Do one of the following:

 

To

Do this

Zoom in

Press the Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key + Plus sign

Zoom out

Press the Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key + Minus sign

To set the zoom increment

The zoom increment determines how quickly Magnifier zooms in and out.

Click the Options button, and then move the slider to adjust the zoom increment. Moving the slider to the left causes Magnifier to zoom slower, with smaller changes between zoom levels. Moving the slider to the right causes Magnifier to zoom faster, with larger changes between zoom levels.

To set the lens size

When you're using lens mode, you can adjust the size of the Magnifier lens.

Click the Options button , and then, under Magnifier Lens Size, move the sliders to adjust the size of the Magnifier lens. The lens size changes right away. Adjust the level until it's right for you.

Note:

  • You must be using lens mode for the lens size options to appear.
  • You can quickly change the lens size by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R, and then moving the pointer up and down to change the height, and left and right to change the width.

To turn on color inversion

Turning on color inversion increases the contrast between items on your screen, which can help make your screen easier to see.

Click the Options button , and then select the Turn on color inversion check box.

To display the Magnifier toolbar

Click the magnifying glass icon or click Magnifier on the taskbar.

Hear text read aloud with Narrator in Windows 7

Windows 7 includes a pretty cool tool for people visually impaired called Narrator. It can read aloud the text on-screen and even describe some of the events that happen (error messages notifications, etc.)

How to start Narrator

  1. Click on the Start button
  2. Then click on All Programs
  3. Then click on Accessories
  4. Then click on Ease of Access
  5. Then click on Narrator.

Choose your preferences for Narrator

Under Main Narrator Settings box, select any of the following check boxes:

  • Select the Echo User's Keystrokes check box to hear what you type.
  • Select the Announce System Messages check box to hear background events, such as notifications
  • Select the Announce Scroll Notifications check box to hear an announcement when the screen scrolls
  • Select the Start Narrator Minimized check box to start Narrator minimized. The next time you start Narrator, it will appear as an icon on the Taskbar instead of being open on your screen.

Note: To restore the Narrator dialog box to its full size, click on Narrator in the Taskbar.

Using Dual Monitors in Windows for users who have impaired vision (Video)

I little while back, I wrote an article on using Dual Monitors. In it, I wrote how a person with a visual impairment could use two monitors. Here's a snippet:

"This scenario also works well for those with visual impairments that require a magnification utility. You can use a larger monitor as the ‘main’ display and a smaller monitor as the ‘secondary’ display. Using the main display for all normal functions, the secondary display shows a magnified view of the main display. And without the need for matching monitors, you could pick up a cheap used one to run as secondary. Try your local Goodwill, Savers, thrift shop, etc."

Here's a video showing how to use dual monitors in Windows for users who have impaired vision.

Till then,
Scott

Managing accessibility programs with Utility Manager in Windows XP

Utility Manager enables users to check an accessibility program's status and start or stop an accessibility program. Users with administrator-level access can designate to have the program start when Utility Manager starts. Users can also start accessibility programs before logging on to the computer by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + U at the Welcome screen.

The built-in accessibility programs available from the Utility Manager are Magnifier, Narrator, and On-Screen Keyboard. Narrator, a text-to-speech program, starts when Utility Manager opens. This gives users who are blind or have impaired vision immediate access to Utility Manager.

Using Utility Manager, you can tell Windows to automatically start accessibility programs each time you log on to your computer, when you lock your computer desktop, or when Utility Manager starts. For example, you can specify that Magnifier start automatically the next time you log on to your computer. This eliminates the need for you to go through the steps of opening Magnifier each time you log on to your computer.

Open Utility Manager by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + U.

Notes:

  • You can also open Utility Manager by clicking Start, pointing to Programs, pointing to Accessories, pointing to Accessibility, and then clicking Utility Manager. Please note, however, that you will have limited program management capabilities. You will only be able to start or stop accessibility programs from within Utility Manager.
  • If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may prevent you from using Utility Manager.
  • The accessibility tools that ship with Windows are intended to provide a minimum level of functionality for users with special needs. Most users with disabilities will need utility programs with more advanced functionality for daily use.

Accessibility options in Windows XP

The following accessibility tools are frequently used when configuring accessibility options in Windows XP.

Turn on High Contrast

High Contrast improves screen contrast with alternative colors and font sizes. High Contrast is designed for people who have vision impairment. High contrast color schemes can make the screen easier to view for some users by heightening screen contrast with alternative color combinations. Some of the schemes also change font sizes for easier reading.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Display tab, under High Contrast, select the Use High Contrast check box.

To turn off High Contrast, clear the Use High Contrast check box.

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.
  • If the Use shortcut check box in the Settings for High Contrast dialog box is selected, you can turn High Contrast on or off by pressing the left ALT+left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN keys (depending on the other settings you have selected in the Accessibility Options dialog box). To open the Settings for High Contrast dialog box, open Accessibility Options, click the Display tab, and then, under High Contrast,click Settings.

Turn on StickyKeys

StickyKeys enables simultaneous keystrokes while pressing one key at a time. StickyKeys is designed for people who have difficulty holding down two or more keys simultaneously. When a shortcut requires a key combination, such as CTRL+P, StickyKeys will enable you to press a modifier key (CTRL, ALT, or SHIFT), or the Windows logo key (Windows logo key), and have it remain active until another key is pressed.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Keyboard tab, under StickyKeys, select the Use StickyKeys check box.

To turn off StickyKeys, clear the Use StickyKeys check box.

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.
  • If the Use shortcut check box in the Settings for StickyKeys dialog box is selected, you can turn StickyKeys on or off by pressing the SHIFT key five times.
  • For more information on changing StickyKeys options, click Related Topics.

Turn on FilterKeys

FilterKeys adjusts the response of your keyboard. FilterKeys is a keyboard feature that instructs the keyboard to ignore brief or repeated keystrokes. Using FilterKeys, you can also slow the rate at which a key repeats when you hold it down.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Keyboard tab, under FilterKeys, select the Use FilterKeys check box.

To turn off FilterKeys, clear the Use FilterKeys check box.

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.
  • If the Use shortcut check box in the Settings for FilterKeys dialog box is selected, you can turn FilterKeys on or off by holding down the right SHIFT key for 8 to 16 seconds (depending on the other settings you have selected in the Accessibility Options dialog box). To open the Settings for FilterKeys dialog box, open Accessibility Options and then, under FilterKeys, click Settings.

Turn on ToggleKeys

ToggleKeys emits sounds when locking keys such as CAPS LOCK, SCROLL LOCK, and NUM LOCK are pressed. ToggleKeys is designed for people who have vision impairment or cognitive disabilities. When ToggleKeys is turned on, your computer will provide sound cues when the locking keys (CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, or SCROLL LOCK) are pressed. A high sound plays when the keys are switched on and a low sound plays when they are switched off.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Keyboard tab, under ToggleKeys, select the Use ToggleKeys check box.

To turn off ToggleKeys, clear the Use ToggleKeys check box.

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.
  • To use the keyboard shortcut which allows you to turn ToggleKeys on and off by pressing the NUM LOCK key for five seconds, on the Keyboard tab, under ToggleKeys, click Settings.
  • If the Use shortcut check box in the Settings for ToggleKeys dialog box is selected, you can turn ToggleKeys on or off by holding down the NUM LOCK key for five seconds.

Turn on SoundSentry

SoundSentry provides visual warnings for system sounds. SoundSentry is designed for people who have difficulty hearing system sounds generated by the computer. SoundSentry allows you to change settings to generate visual warnings, such as a blinking title bar or a flashing border, whenever the computer generates a sound.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Sound tab, under SoundSentry, select the Use SoundSentry check box.

To turn off SoundSentry, select the Use SoundSentry check box to clear the check box.

Note:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.

Turn on ShowSounds

ShowSounds instructs programs to display captions for program speech and sounds.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Sound tab, under ShowSounds, select the Use ShowSounds check box.

To turn off ShowSounds, clear the Use ShowSounds check box.

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.
  • ShowSounds instructs programs that convey information by sound to also provide information visually, for example, through text captions or informative icons.

Turn on MouseKeys

MouseKeys enables the keyboard to perform mouse functions. MouseKeys is designed for people who have difficulty using a mouse. MouseKeys allows you to use the numeric keypad to control the mouse pointer. If you want to use the numeric keypad for data entry as well as for navigation, you can set the MouseKeys to be activated by pressing NUM LOCK.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the Mouse tab, under MouseKeys, select the Use MouseKeys check box.

To turn off MouseKeys, clear the Use MouseKeys check box.

To turn on MouseKeys using keystrokes

  1. Press left ALT + left SHIFT + NUM LOCK.
  2. In the MouseKeys message dialog box, press SPACEBAR to clear the Turn off keyboard shortcut for this accessibility feature check box.
  3. Press TAB, and then press ENTER.

If MouseKeys does not turn on using the keystrokes above, follow the steps below.

  1. Press the Windows logo key (Windows logo key) + R to display the Run dialog box.
  2. Type access.cpl and press ENTER.
  3. Press CTRL+TAB until the Mouse tab is selected.
  4. To select Use MouseKeys, press SPACEBAR.
  5. Press TAB twice to select OK, and then press ENTER.

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.
  • To change settings for MouseKeys, on the Mouse tab, click Settings.
  • If the Use shortcut check box in the Settings for MouseKeys dialog box is selected, you can turn MouseKeys on or off by pressing left ALT+left SHIFT+NUM LOCK.

Turn on SerialKeys

SerialKeys allows the use of alternative input devices instead of a keyboard and mouse. Serial Keys is designed for people who have difficulty using the computer's standard keyboard or mouse. Serial Keys provides support so that alternative input devices, such as single switch or puff and sip devices, can be plugged into the computer's serial port.

  1. Open Accessibility Options (see below).
  2. On the General tab, under SerialKey devices, select Use Serial Keys.

To turn off Serial Keys, clear the Use Serial Keys check box.

Important

  • To use Serial Keys, Fast User Switching must be turned off. (Fast User Switching is only available on Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional when it is not joined to a domain.)

Notes:

  • To open Accessibility Options, click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Accessibility Options.

Accessibility Options in Control Panel can be used with other accessibility programs included with Windows XP. See the following links for more information.

Zoom in on your screen in Windows XP with Magnifier

Read text aloud in Windows XP with Narrator

Type using a pointing device or joystick with On-screen Keyboard in Windows XP

 

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