Make things on screen appear bigger with Magnifier 2
Type without using the keyboard (On-Screen Keyboard) 3
Hear text read aloud with Narrator 4
Make text on your screen larger or smaller 5
Interact with your PC with Speech Recognition 5
Windows Touch 5
Assistive technology products for Windows 6
Table 1: Overview of accessibility features in Windows 7 (table below)) 6
Windows 7 includes accessibility options and programs that make it easier to see, hear, and use your computer including ways to personalize your PC. Windows 7 includes significant accessibility improvements. Magnifier now includes a lens mode and full-screen mode. On-Screen Keyboard can be resized to make it easier to see and includes text prediction. Windows 7 also gives you more ways to interact with your PC by taking advantage of new strides in speech recognition and touch technology.
Ease of Access Center
The Ease of Access Center provides a convenient, centralized place to locate accessibility settings and programs to make your computer easier to use. The Ease of Access Center can be found in the Control Panel by selecting Windows logo key+U and also when logging into Windows.
The Ease of Access Center includes:
Quick access to common tools. Start Magnifier, On-Screen Keyboard, Narrator, and High Contrast quickly.
Get recommendations to make your computer easier to use. An optional questionnaire provides a personalized list of recommended settings based on your answers to a series of questions about your eyesight, dexterity, hearing, and more. A custom list of recommended settings is provided so you can choose which options you want to try.
Explore all settings by category. Instead of looking for accessibility settings in various places, settings are organized so you can explore how to:
Use the computer without a display
Make the computer easier to see
Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard
Make the mouse easier to use
Make the keyboard easier to use
Use text or visual alternatives for sounds
Make it easier to focus on tasks
Make things on screen appear bigger with Magnifier
Magnifier enlarges portions of the screen making it easier to view text and images and see the whole screen more easily. Magnifier in Windows 7 now includes full-screen mode, lens mode, and docked mode.
The magnification quality is improved and you can set the magnification level up to 16 times the original size and choose to track what you magnify by movement of your mouse, the keyboard, or text editing.
The online video and how-to guide for Windows 7 Magnifier shows how to:
Choose where Magnifier focuses so that it follows the movement of the mouse cursor, keyboard focus, or text editing
Change the zoom level
Set the zoom increment
Set the lens size
Turn on color inversion for better screen legibility
Display the Magnifier toolbar
Type without using the keyboard (On-Screen Keyboard)
On-Screen Keyboard displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys. Instead of relying on the physical keyboard to type and enter data, you can use On-Screen Keyboard to select keys using the mouse or another pointing device.
On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 7 can be resized and customized to make it easier to see and use. On-Screen Keyboard now also includes text prediction in eight languages. When text prediction is enabled, as you type, On-Screen Keyboard displays a list of words that you might be typing.
The online video and how-to guide for Windows 7 On-Screen Keyboard shows how to:
Change how information is entered into On-Screen Keyboard
Select a layout for On-Screen Keyboard
Change the font for On-Screen Keyboard keys
Set On-Screen Keyboard to use audible clicks
Enable text prediction in On-Screen Keyboard
Hear text read aloud with Narrator
Windows comes with a basic screen reader called Narrator, which reads aloud text on the screen and describes some events (such as error messages appearing) that happen while you're using the computer.
You can find Narrator in the Ease of Access Center.
To open Narrator, click the Start button, type "Narrator" in the search box, then select Narrator from the list of results.
Add a personal touch to your computer by changing the computer's colors, sounds, desktop background, screen saver, font size, and user account picture. You can also decide which gadgets to display on your desktop.
Desktop background—(also called wallpaper) is a picture or design on the desktop. It provides a backdrop to your open windows.
Colors—You can change the color of windows, window borders, title bars, menus, the desktop, and more.
Sounds—You can change the sound your computer makes when you receive email, start Windows, or shut down your computer.
Screen saver—A screen saver is a picture or animation that appears on the screen when you haven't used the mouse or keyboard for a specified period of time. Windows includes a variety of screen savers to choose from.
Font size—You can make the text, icons, and other items on your screen easier to see by increasing the dots per inch (DPI) scale to make them larger. You can also decrease the DPI scale to make text and other items on your screen smaller, so that more information fits on the screen.
User account picture—A user account picture helps identify your account on a computer. The picture is displayed on the Welcome screen and on the Start menu. You can change your user account picture to one of the pictures included with Windows, or you can use your own.
Desktop gadgets—Desktop gadgets are customizable mini-programs that can display continuously updated information, such as headlines or a slide show, without having to open a new window.
Make text on your screen larger or smaller
You can make the text and other items on your screen, such as icons, easier to see by making them larger. You can do this without changing the screen resolution of your monitor or laptop screen. This allows you to increase or decrease the size of text and other items on your screen while keeping your monitor or laptop set to its optimal resolution.
Interact with your PC with Speech Recognition
Speech Recognition in Windows 7 allows you to command your PC with your voice including the capability to dictate into almost any application. You can dictate documents and email and surf the Web by saying what you see. An easy setup process and an interactive tutorial are available to familiarize you with the speech commands and train your computer to better understand you.
Learn what you can do with Speech Recognition and how-to set up Speech Recognition including how to set up your microphone, teach yourself how to talk to your computer, and train your computer to recognize your speech.
Also explore how to:
Dictate text using Speech Recognition
Use the dictation scratchpad
Add or edit words in the Speech Dictionary
Use Common commands
While great for a lot of tasks, using a keyboard and mouse is not always the easiest way to do things. With Windows 7, if you've got a touch-screen monitor, you can just touch your computer screen for a more direct and natural way to work. Use your fingers to scroll, resize windows, play media, and pan and zoom.
Assistive technology products are specialty hardware and software products that provide essential accessibility to computers for those with significant vision, hearing, dexterity, language, or learning needs. Many assistive technology products are compatible with Windows.
Table 1: Overview of accessibility features in Windows 7 (table below))
Ease of Access Center
Provides a centralized location in the Control Panel where you can adjust accessibility settings and programs. You can also get recommendations for settings to make your PC easier to see, hear, and use.
Magnifies the screen or a portion of the screen to make text, images, and objects easier to see.
A visual, on-screen keyboard with all the standard keys that you can use instead of a physical keyboard. On-Screen Keyboard also lets you type and enter data with a mouse or other pointing device.
Reads aloud on-screen text and describes some events (such as error messages appearing) that happen while you're using the computer.
Enables you to interact with your computer using only your voice while maintaining, or even increasing, your productivity.
Lets you make text and objects larger and easier to see without losing graphics quality.
You can add a personal touch to your computer by changing the computer's theme, color, sounds, desktop background, screen saver, font size, and user account picture. You can also select specific gadgets for your desktop.
If you've got a touch-screen monitor, you can just touch your computer screen for a more direct and natural way to work. Use your fingers to scroll, resize windows, play media, and pan and zoom.
Keyboard combinations of two or more keys that, when pressed, can be used to perform a task that would typically require a mouse or other pointing device. Keyboard shortcuts can make it easier to interact with your computer, saving you time and effort.
Instead of having to press three keys at once (such as when you must press the CTRL, ALT, and DELETE keys simultaneously to log on to Windows), you can press one key at a time when Sticky Keys is turned on.
Instead of using the mouse, you can use the arrow keys on the numeric keypad to move the pointer.
Ignore keystrokes that occur in rapid succession and keystrokes that are held down for several seconds unintentionally.
Replace system sounds with visual cues, such as a flash on the screen, so system alerts are announced with visual notifications instead of sounds.
Get information via animations and video that some programs use to indicate that activity is happening on your computer.
Microsoft (2000). Retrieved from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/accessibility