Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

How to use Windows if you're mildly vision-impaired

During spring break I spent a fair amount of time fixing PC's belonging to family members, friends, and neighbors. What I learned from this experience was consistent with what I'd already suspected: that the default strategy for Windows users who are having trouble reading text isn't to increase the size of the font, but rather to decrease the resolution of their display.

Obviously, this strategy (which basically just degrades your monitor) isn't ideal. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation here are two things you should try first:

  1. If you're using either Internet Explorer or Microsoft Word, hold down Ctrl and roll the mouse wheel: this changes the size of the displayed font.
  2. If you're using something other than Internet Explorer or Microsoft Word, and no similar feature is available, then either try the operating system's magnifier (Start -> Control Panel -> Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center -> Start Magnifier) or toggle the operating system's high-contrast mode (Alt-LShift-PrintScreen).

It's also worth noting that just released a free piece of software called Kindle for PC, which lets you read any Kindle eBook on your PC at whatever font size you like: personally, I'm surprised at how little attention this new development has received in the technology press, given what a boon it is for the vision-impaired.
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