Accessibility Options in Windows

May 10, 2010

Windows has a group of features called Accessibility Options. These are Windows options that can be set to help people who physical impairments that make it hard to use a computer. People who are def or hard of hearing, are blind or have limited eyesight, or people who have difficulty using the keyboard or mouse. If you or someone you know falls into any of these categories, windows has special features that can help you better use a computer.

There are actually quite a few accessibility options. Too many to go over in detail in this article. But here is a description of some of the more popular accessibility options.

It’s like a big rectangular magnifying glass that you move around the screen with your mouse. It magnifies anything in the box to the power you set. 200% by default.

High Contrast
For people with impaired vision, you can use a high contrast color scheme to make things easier to see. High contrast color schemes increase the legibility by heightening screen contrast with alternative color combinations. Some of these schemes also make things on the screen bigger.

Visual Notifications
By default, Windows uses a lot of sounds to notify you of what’s going on. But if your hearing isn’t very good, Visual Notifications allows you to have visual notifications in addition to audible notifications. You can choose what you what notifications you want it to give you visually.

This is a text-to-speech program that basically reads what on the screen to you.

Speech Recognition
If you have trouble using a mouse or keyboard, Speech Recognition allows you to speak commands to your computer. You’ll need to have a microphone connected to your computer for this to work.

Filter Keys
if you tend to hold keys on the keyboard down too long or press it several times when you intended to only press it once, then you probably often get more than one character of the key you pressed. If so, then you might want to enable Filter Keys which will ignore keystrokes that occur in rapid succession.

Sticky Keys
Windows has quite a few keyboard combinations where you have to press multiple keys at the same time. For example, Control-Alt-Delete. When Sticky Keys is enabled, you don’t have to press them all at the same time. You can press them one at a time. So, if Sticky Keys was turned on, you could press and release control, then press and release Alt, then press and release Delete.

Mouse Keys
If you do OK using the keyboard, but have trouble with the mouse you can enable mouse keys which lets you use the arrow keys to move the pointer.

Note that XP doesn’t have all of the options described above, but Vista and Windows 7 do.

This list above is a very small portion of the many accessibility options in Windows.

For detailed information on all of the accessibility options in Windows XP, go to:

For Vista, go to:

For Windows 7, go to:

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