Making a Computer Easier to Use
There is a wide range of computer hardware and software commercially available which can make a computer easier to use. These include highly specialised software such as screen readers and voice recognition but most people do not realise that if you are using Microsoft Windows, you already have a range of accessibility options available to you - at no extra expense!
Windows Accessibility Options
You can use the standard Windows Accessibility Options on XP computers, or Customisation options on Vista or Windows 7 computers to tune how the computer reacts when you use the keyboard, mouse or screen. For instance, if you find it difficult to control the mouse pointer on the screen because it moves too fast, you can slow it down. If you are a left-handed user, you can change or reverse the right-click and left-click mouse buttons. If you struggle to see the blinking cursor or mouse pointer, you can enlarge them. If you are a single-handed or mouthstick user, you can apply stickykeys which allows you to effectively press two keys at the same time no need to stretch your hand across the keyboard for a capital letter anymore! There really is so much you can do to make your computer more in tune with your needs. For many people, alternative hardware or software is not what is needed, rather a tweaking of the standard manufacturer's settings. For accessibility options on Apple computers, visit www.apple.com/accessibility.
Ability Net, UK
For more information on how you can change your computer settings, see the Factsheets developed by AbilityNet. You can also visit the AbilityNet website for the online version of My Computer My Way! - A Guide to Making Your PC Accessible. This describes the many ways you can make your keyboard and mouse, Windows, the Internet and your favourite applications suit you and your needs.
Microsoft also has information on accessibility options and solutions for people with disabilities and older people using Windows. For more information, visit Microsoft Accessibility - Technology for Everyone.