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Making computers accessible

Accessibility software makes life easier for people who need assistance using a computer. Windows 10 (the computer's operating system) has lots of great accessibility features built in. In addition to this we've included lots of other accessibility software which may make it easier to see, hear and use a computer.

Microsoft accessibility features

Vision

Adjust the size of text and images

Windows 10 helps you to make the text and other items on your screen, such as icons, easier to see by making them larger or smaller. By increasing or decreasing the size of text and other items on your screen you can keep your monitor or laptop set to its optimal resolution.

High Contrast themes

Several High Contrast themes can be selected in the Ease of Access settings. These themes heighten the color contrast of text and images on your screen, which can make those items easier to identify. If the pre-selected themes aren’t perfect for you, you can always customize them to suit your personal needs.

Magnifier

The built-in magnifier is a tool that will zoom in on your screen, or portions of your screen. For users with low vision who have trouble seeing their devices, Magnifier can zoom in 16X the original size making it easier to see the screen and touch it too. You have a choice of modes like full-screen zoom or a magnifying lens to make reading webpages or documents that much easier.

Narrator

Interact with Windows using Narrator, our screen reader that reads aloud text and will describe events, such as notifications or calendar appointments, so that you can use your computer without a display. You can interact with Narrator using a keyboard or with a range gestures on touch supported devices. For more info about Narrator visit (Link to Narrator User Guide).

Hearing

Skype Translator

Break down the language barrier with your friends, family and colleagues. Skype Translator is powerful communication tool for the deaf and hard of hearing that lets you instantly communicate with voice and have it displayed in text to the receiver! Or type a response and have it read to someone who can’t see your response. You only need to have Skype Translator installed on your computer to make a call– your friends and family can receive translated calls on almost any device running Skype.

Visual Alerts

If hearing audible sound alerts is difficult, you can replace them by turning on visual alerts in Windows. Rather than relying on sounds alone you can choose to have the active window or the whole screen flash when a notification arrives.

Notification Delay

By default, Windows notifications disappear five seconds after they appear. This might not be enough time for users to notice them without sound. You can increase the time a notification will be displayed up to 5 minutes.

Closed Captioning

Closed captions let you read the words that are spoken in movies or television shows. When closed captioning is turned on, closed captions are usually displayed at the bottom of the screen. You can customize things like the color, size and background transparency of closed captions and will be used by default in apps like Movies and TV when captions are turned on.

Dexterity/Mobility

Speech Recognition

Imagine commanding your computer by voice – including the capability to dictate into almost any application without needing a keyboard or mouse. With Windows Speech Recognition you can! Dictate documents and email or surf the web just by saying what you see. An easy setup process and an interactive tutorial are available to familiarize you with the speech commands and also train Windows to better understand you.

On-Screen Keyboard

Instead of relying on the physical keyboard to type and enter data, you can also use the On-Screen Keyboard. You can select keys using the mouse or any other pointing device like a joystick or trackball. You can also use a single key or connected switch to cycle through the keys on the screen.

Sticky Keys

If you have difficulty pressing two keys at once, StickyKeys will enable you to press commands with multiple keys, one key at a time.

Filter Keys

For people with limited control of their hands, FilterKeys will let you set the sensitivity of the keyboard so that either brief or repeated keystrokes are ignored.

Easier to focus

Quiet Hours

Notifications can be distracting when appearing on your screen unexpectedly. By turning on Quiet Hours you to not be disturbed by notifications between 12 am and 6 am. You can also choose which apps can display notifications and adjust their behavior when they do appear outside of quiet hours.

Edge Reading mode

For a clean and simple layout, select Reading view in the address bar of Edge to bring whatever you’re reading front and center. Reading View clears distracting content out of your way so you can stay focused and enjoy reading, online. You can even change the reading view style and font size to suit your personal preferences or needs.

Other accessibility software available from your computer

  • My Study Bar - a tool designed to help students overcome the barriers associated with dyslexia - but offering benefits to all learners
  • NVDA - a free screen reader for blind or visually impaired people - including support for over twenty languages
  • MyVisBar - a floating toolbar with six different resources for learners with visual difficulties
  • Yadabyte Subtext - a free and easy way to save loads of time by shortcutting frequently typed words, text and phrases to memorable short cuts
  • Dwell Clicker - allows you to use a mouse without pressing buttons
  • Big Calculator - a large calculator which you can use with your mouse or your number keys