If you’re struggling to see what you’re doing in Windows 10, or just want to make the mouse and keyboard easier to use, take look at the Ease of Access options in Windows 10 and how this might make life a little easier.
Windows 10 has a wide range of built-in ‘ease of access’ settings that make it much easier to use by people with a physical impairment of some kind.
Some of the settings are also invaluable for the able-bodied though, particularly if your eyesight just isn’t what it used to be or your fingers aren’t fast enough to use certain Windows 10 features. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
1. Make everything bigger
Big monitors are great, but the high resolutions they work best with can make everything on them too small to see for some people. Fortunately, this is easily fixed.
Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens. Click Display use the drop down menu to increase the size of text, apps, Desktop icons and other parts of Windows in 25% increments. How far you can increase depends on your monitor resolution — high resolutions have lots of adjustment.
2. Make the mouse pointer bigger and change the colour
The mouse is one of the most useful Ease of Access settings, since you can use it to make the mouse pointer much more visible by changing its size and colour.
Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens and then click cursor and pointer. From there you can adjust the size and colour of the pointer
3. Switch to a high-contrast theme
High contrast switches the Windows 10 theme to one of several designs to be easier to see for people with severe visual impairment. Text with low contrast can be difficult to read for people with low vision. There are web sites that have, for example, poor color combinations such as blue links on black backgrounds. They aren’t easy to read even for people with unimpaired vision and can be virtually impossible for people with vision disabilities. Strongly contrasting colors can make it quicker and easier to read from your PC.
Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens and then click High contrast. From there you can turn the high contrast off and on and select the theme you want.
4. Turn on Closed captions
Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens and then click on Closed Captions. From here you can adjust all the settings of the captions.
Closed captioning controls the appearance of subtitles and textual audio descriptions in video provided by Windows apps and Microsoft services. The defaults should be fine if you regularly use subtitles rather than listen to audio, but again, feel free to experiment. Note this does not alter the captions of videos you might view on the Web, but can be used on videos you download and view in programmes like Media Player.
5. Hear a description of everything on screen
Narrator lets you use your PC without a mouse to complete common tasks if you’re blind or have low vision. It reads and interacts with things on the screen, like text and buttons. Use Narrator to read and write email, browse the internet, and work with documents.
Specific commands let you navigate Windows, the web, and apps. Navigation is available using headings, links, landmarks, and more. You can read text (including punctuation) by page, paragraph, line, sentence, word, and character, as well as determine characteristics like font and text color. Efficiently review tables with row and column navigation.
Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens then go to Narrator to turn the Narrator on for the first time. You can then click the box to allow the shortcut keys to control the Narrator from then on.
6. Make the blinking cursor more obvious
When you start typing some text in Notepad, Word or in other text editor, your cursor turns into a blinking line. If you have a display with high resolution or have issues with vision, you might find the default thickness of text cursor not suitable for your needs. Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens then go to Cursor and pointer and change the slide bar to adjust the thickness of the cursor.
7. Use a virtual magnifying glass
If you want to temporarily enlarge a portion of the screen you can use the handy built-in Magnifier. It’s one of the options you can use to make text, apps and other items bigger.
You can quickly open the Magnifier by using the keyboard shortcut Windows key with the plus sign (+) to zoom in and Windows key with minus sign (-) to zoom out. Use Windows key and Esc to exit the magnifier. You can use the Magnifier knowing just these three shortcuts, but there are actually a few more options. Go to Start > Settings and click Ease of Access in the window that opens then go to Magnifer to run through the settings available.
If you need more support on how to level the productivity playing field and create a digitally inclusive organisation please do reach out for a virtual coffee and catch up.
By James Mitcham O365 Adoption Specialist.