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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Guide for Aging Computer Users

Discover How to Make the Computer Easier to See, Hear, and Use

Having trouble seeing things on your computer screen? By the time we reach our fifties, two-thirds of us have vision, hearing, or dexterity impairments that will impact our use of the computer. There are easy ways to adjust your computer without downloading or purchasing anything. This guide shows you the features in Microsoft Windows that make it easier to see, hear, and use your computer.

Make the Computer Easier to See

* If you have trouble seeing the screen, explore ways to increase text and icons, change colors, and add contrast to what you see on your computer screen.
* Try the built-in bifocals, called Magnifier, in Windows. Magnifier opens a floating window that magnifies a portion of the screen—just like a magnifying glass or pair of bifocals.

Make the Computer Easier to Hear

* If you have difficulty hearing videos or other computer sounds, try cranking up the volume. Also, using headphones can help block out background noise.
* Having trouble hearing email alerts? Try using text or visual alternatives for sounds and consider adjusting computer system sounds to tones that are easier for you to hear.

Make the Keyboard Easier to Use

* If you experience typing errors due to a mild tremor or stiff fingers, try Filter Keys to ignore brief or repeated keystrokes.
* If you find it difficult to press multiple keys at once, try Sticky Keys.

Windows Speech Recognition

* If still joints or dexterity issues are slowing you down, try using Windows Speech Recognition in Windows Vista. You can talk to your computer and use voice commands to dictate text, send email, and more. You'll be surprised how easy it is to get started once you plug a microphone into your PC.

Make the Internet Easier to Use

* If you have trouble seeing things on the Web, many options are available in Internet Explorer 7 to make the Internet easier to see and explore. Try zooming in on a Web page to magnify text, images, and controls. Also, try changing text, color, font, and other options to make Web pages easier to see and read.

Make the Mouse Easier to Use

* If you find yourself searching for your mouse cursor more often than you search the Web, adjust the mouse cursor size, appearance, and pointer options.
* If you find yourself wrestling to control the mouse, you can change the way the mouse scrolls and how the buttons work, including the double-click speed.
* Is dragging a drag? Try using ClickLock if you don't want to hold the mouse button down while you drag items with the mouse.

Courtesy: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/aging/default.aspx

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