Accessibility Tools On Windows OS

Windows is probably the operating system that has gained the most traction when it comes to the world of computing, with Macs catching up in more recent years. The number of users on Windows has already hit the billion mark and still growing. However, most people only use it for routine purposes without the knowledge of other available useful features. In this blog post, we are going to have a look at the different accessibility tools on windows and their use.

Let’s dive in to the free accessibility tools on Windows:

1. Magnifier
This tool was developed to assist users with impaired eyesight or for use if you need to focus on certain areas on the screen for whatever reason. To open this tool, go to start, select settings, then ease of access and you will find magnifier which you can select. For earlier versions like Windows 7, click on start, control panel then ease of access, and finally ease of access center where you will find it. You can also access the ease of access centre on some computers by hitting windows + U on your keyboard.

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2. Narrator
Narrator reads aloud dialogue boxes and windows controls from the most commonly used applications. In Windows 7, the narrator uses the English language but in windows 7 ultimate and other editions for China, there is the inclusion of
Chinese. In later versions like Windows 10, an array of languages like French, Italian and Russian among others has been included. The only requirement is for your computer to be equipped with a soundcard and headphones or speakers. You can access it via the same process as the magnifier tool since from the ease of access center, you will find it on the same list.

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3. High Contrast
High Contrast allows you to have certain parts of your screen in hi-vis mode. This option is especially useful if you are going to use the computer outdoors or for people with colour sensitivity. With this tool, you have four options of high contrast themes. This includes high contrast #1, #2, black and lastly white. After your selection, you can modify selected text, disabled text, button text and background as per your liking. To locate High Contrast go to start select settings then ease of access and lastly high contrast.

4. Speech recognition
Windows now also has built in speech recognition. This is almost like a stripped down version of Dragon and it actually works quite well. It is a handy tool that helps you communicate with your computer and give it commands by word of mouth. You can dictate documents, surf the web and even navigate using just your speech. To find this tool, go to start, control panel, ease of access and you will find the speech recognition. After selecting it, you will be taken through the process of setting it up.

5. Closed captions
Do you have problems following through subtitles in movies and TV shows? Well, closed captions is here for you. It simply lets you edit the background and colors on your subtitles. This options works on supported media players. To manage it click start, then settings, ease of access and then closed captions.

6. Keyboard
There are several functions associated with the keyboard;

a. Sticky keys- This lets you press and release one key at a time instead of having to hold it down. For instance, to copy, press control, release it, then press C.
b. On-screen keyboard- Displays keyboard on the screen and you can control it with the mouse.
c. Toggle keys- You get to hear a sound anytime you press the toggle keys.
You can find the keyboard setting by using the same process as magnifier tool and you will find it on the list in ease of access.

7. Mouse
This tool enables you to change the size of the mouse pointer, color and other minor things like allowing the numbers pad to move the mouse. This tool is found next to keyboard tool and the process of accessing it is the same above!

Thanks for reading!

We will be back later in the week looking at the built in accessibility tools available on the Mac operating system.

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