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Use your computer without a display in Windows Vista and Windows 7 (optimize for blindness)

Windows Vista and Windows 7 have many features that allow you to use your computer without a display. For example, you can have screen text read aloud by using Narrator, or you can have Windows describe screen activity to you.

You can turn on or adjust settings for these features on the Use the computer without a display page in the Ease of Access Center.

Open Ease of Access Center:

  • by pressing the Windows logo key Windows logo key + U.
  • or

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

Click on Use the computer without a display.

Select the options that you want to use:

  • Turn on Narrator. This option sets Narrator to run when you log on to Windows. Narrator reads aloud on-screen text and describes some events (such as error messages appearing) that happen while you're using the computer.
  • Turn on Audio Description. This option sets Audio Descriptions to run when you log on to Windows. Audio Descriptions describe what's happening in videos.
  • Turn off all unnecessary animations. This option turns off animation effects, such as fading effects, when windows and other elements are closed.
  • How long should Windows notification dialog boxes stay open? This option sets how long notifications are displayed on the screen before they are closed.

Use Speech Recognition to operate windows and programs in Windows Vista and Windows 7

You can use your voice to work with Windows and programs. Usually, you can say the command that you want to perform. For example, to minimize all open windows, you can say "Show Desktop." To see the System Properties dialog box, you can say "Right-click Computer," and then say "Click Properties."

To open Windows Speech Recognition:

  • Click on the Start button, then click on Control Panel.
  • Click on Ease of Access
  • Click on Speech Recognition.

Speech Recognition commands for working with Windows and programs
The following table shows Speech Recognition commands for working with Windows and programs. Words in italics indicate that you can say many different things in place of the example word or phrase and get useful results.

To do this

Say this

Click any item

Click File; Click bold; Click Save; Click Close

Double-click any item

Double-click Computer; Double-click Recycle Bin; Double-click Folder Name

Right-click any item

Right-click Computer; Right-click Recycle Bin; Right-click Folder Name

Minimize all windows to show your desktop

Show Desktop

Click something you don't know the name of

Show numbers (Numbers will appear on the screen for every item in the active window. Say an item's corresponding number to click it.)

Click a numbered item

19 OK; 5 OK

Double-click a numbered item

Double-click 19; Double-click 5

Right-click a numbered item

Right-click 19; Right-click 5

Open a program

Open Paint; Open WordPad; Open Program Name

Switch to an open program

Switch to Paint; Switch to WordPad; Switch to Program Name; Switch application

Close a program

Close that; Close Paint; Close Documents; Close Internet Explorer


Restore that; Restore Paint; Restore Internet Explorer


Minimize that; Minimize Paint; Minimize Internet Explorer


Cut that; Cut


Copy that; Copy




Delete that; Delete


Undo that; Scratch that; Undo

Scroll in one direction

Scroll up; Scroll down; Scroll left; Scroll right

Scroll an exact distance in pages

Scroll down 2 pages; Scroll up 10 pages

Scroll an exact distance in other units

Scroll up 5; Scroll down 7

Go to a field in a form or a program

Go to field name; Go to Subject; Go to Address; Go to Cc

Type without using the keyboard with On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 7

Instead of relying on the physical keyboard to type and enter data, you can use On-Screen Keyboard. On-Screen Keyboard displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys. You can select keys using the mouse or another pointing device, or you can use a single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.

To open the On-Screen Keyboard:

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Ease of Access, then click on On-Screen Keyboard.

Select how information is entered into On-Screen Keyboard

Click Options, and then, under To use the On-Screen Keyboard, select the mode you want:

Typing mode


Click on keys

In clicking mode, you click the on-screen keys to type text.

Hover over keys

In hovering mode, you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key for a predefined period of time, and the selected character is typed automatically.

Scan through keys

In scanning mode, On-Screen Keyboard continually scans the keyboard. It highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click.


  • If you're using either hovering mode or scanning mode and accidentally minimize On-Screen Keyboard, you can restore it by pointing to it in the taskbar (for hovering mode) or by pressing the scan key (for scanning mode).
  • If you're using a mouse click to select a key in the Scan through keys mode, the mouse pointer must be located over On-Screen Keyboard.
  • The keyboard layout changes in On-Screen Keyboard depending on the language displayed in the active program.

To set On-Screen Keyboard to use audible clicks
You can have On-Screen Keyboard make an audible click when a key is pressed.

Click Options, select the Use click sound checkbox, and then click OK.

To use a numeric keypad in On-Screen Keyboard
You can use a numeric keypad to enter numbers with On-Screen Keyboard.

Click Options, select the Turn on numeric keypad checkbox and then click OK.

To enable text prediction in On-Screen Keyboard
When text prediction is enabled, as you type, On-Screen Keyboard displays a list of words that you might be typing.

Click Options, select the Use Text Prediction checkbox, and then click OK.

If you don't want to automatically add a space after you insert a word using text prediction, clear the Insert space after predicted words checkbox, and then click OK.


  • Text prediction is only available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. To enable text prediction in a specific language, you must first install additional language files for that language. For more information, see Install or change a display language.
  • Text prediction isn't included in Windows 7 Home Basic.

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 and 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.


  • 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.


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

File Explorer keyboard shortcuts

To choose where Magnifier focuses

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



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:


Do this

Zoom in

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Plus sign

Zoom out

Press the Windows logo key 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.


  • 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 checkbox.

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 checkboxes:

  • Select the Echo User's Keystrokes checkbox to hear what you type.
  • Select the Announce System Messages checkbox to hear background events, such as notifications
  • Select the Announce Scroll Notifications checkbox to hear an announcement when the screen scrolls
  • Select the Start Narrator Minimized checkbox 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.

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