How to Make Your Computer Easier to Use
If you have trouble reading things on-screen when using your computer, it might help you to know that you don’t have to struggle through. There are accessibility options that can make it easier to use your PC, whether that be built-in features, or physical aids.
Built-In Accessibility Tools
If you’re running one of the newer versions of Microsoft on your computer, then you’re already set up to use a range of built-in accessibility functions that Microsoft bundle into all copies of Windows 7 or upwards. These are the operating systems that run your computer.
If you’ve recently bought your computer new, then chances are that you’re already using Windows 7 or newer, as Microsoft bundle them with every new PC (Personal Computer). If you’re not sure whether you’re using one of these operating systems, then just give us a call and we’ll walk you through the steps to check which one you’re using.
Now, onto the accessibility tools available to you with Windows 7 and upwards. Two of the most prominent, and useful for anyone with visual impairment, are the Narrator tool and the Magnifier.
Once activated, Windows Narrator reads aloud text on-screen, as well as narrating your interactions with the computer. This feature is more useful for people who have partial or full blindness, as you’ll still be able to get work done on the computer, even if you cannot see the screen.
If you’re capable of using a screen, but need a helping hand in the form of bigger fonts or images, then Windows Magnifier could help you. There are different settings that can be used with Magnifier, but essentially you can either blow up the entire screen to display in a larger size, or you can use the mouse pointer like a magnifying glass, enhancing the area of the screen that you select.
Downloadable Accessibility Software
Accessibility software is not a Monopoly, and you do have other options besides Windows when it comes to using computer aids. More information about some of these programs can be found below:
- The Royal National Institute of Blind People have their own advice page, containing links to free software programs that could help you. Click here;
- Essential Accessibility is a software package that provides more functionality than the basic Windows narrator and magnifier options. Click here;
If you need any advice about third party software, or aren’t sure about downloading programs that you aren’t familiar with, then we’re happy to talk it through with you over the phone, or by email.
Replacing Your Hardware
Aside from downloading software packages or making changes to the settings through Windows, you can also make adjustments to the hardware – physical pieces of equipment – that you use to control your computer. One such change involves replacing the mouse and keyboard with something more suited to your preferences or physical capabilities.
By opening the ‘Ease of Access’ centre through the computer’s settings, and selecting the tick box to ‘Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard’, you can do just that.
Without a Keyboard
Dropping the keyboard from your setup is easier than you might think. Once you’ve accessed the above area of the computer’s settings, all you need to do is tick ‘Use on-screen keyboard’. This will give you a virtual keyboard right up on your screen, which you can type with by clicking on the buttons with your mouse pointer. A great solution for anyone with limited mobility in their fingers or hands.
Without a Mouse
Losing the mouse that came with your computer is an option, too. By selecting to ‘Use speech recognition’ in the same settings menu, you can set your computer up to recognise the sound of your voice, allowing you to control the computer and run programs with nothing more than your voice. You can also have the computer dictate text onto a page, just by saying it aloud.
Depending on your preferences, you could even set up your computer to work with other devices, for example joysticks. Though these are often used for playing video games, they can also be perfect for somebody with very limited hand or wrist mobility.
Getting Set Up
For new users, who haven’t worked a great deal with computers, setting up these options for the first time can be a little more tricky than other, more basic computer functions, such as installing programs. If you get stuck along the way, then feel free to give us at WiseGuys a call on 0808 123 2820, and we will be happy to help.