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Dealing with Vision Difficulties & Computers

Posted Dec 15 2009 9:01pm
Many of us--the vast majority of Boomers in fact--deal with the trials and tribulations of vision loss. Corrective lenses address some issues, but not all. Reading glasses can help focus on things within 12 to 18 inches. Progressive lenses allow for relatively natural vision for anything that is close, far or in between. And HD lenses, offering the latest in technological improvements, provide maximum clarity at all distances, reduce distortion and increase your field of vision (as compared to progressives). However, for those with low vision, color blindness or blindness, even these are insufficient when it comes to computers. Some assistive technologies available for those with low or vision include:

  • Screen enlargers (or magnifiers) enlarge a portion of your computer screen as you move the cursor (some also allow you to zoom in and out).
  • Large-print word processors let you view text in large print without enlarging your computer screen.
  • Screen readers (software programs) speaks everything that displays on your computer screen, including graphics, names and descriptions of control buttons, menus, text and punctuation.
  • Voice recognition programs let you speak commands and enter data into your computer instead of using a mouse or keyboard. 
Technologies available for those who are blind include:
  • Talking word processors allow you to type letters, numbers and punctuation into your computer, and then use speech synthesizers to read it back to you. Some of these text-to-speech systems even read the text as it is typed.
  • Refreshable Braille displays lets you 'read' Braille letters on the computer screen with your fingers, and then refresh the display to read the next line of text.
  • Braille translation programs and embossers let you convert scanned or word processed documents into Braille, which can then be printed as embossed Braille. 

Windows has included accessibility features in Windows, Office, Word, Outlook and Internet Explorer. Learn more about how to adjust the settings on your computer for Microsoft products.

Apple includes accessibility as part of the standard features of their Mac, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV products. Learn more about Apple accessibility.

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