This section describes the basic controls that are built into the most common operating systems and web browsing applications that may make it easier for people with disabilities to access the internet. For further information on more specialist equipment and software for blind people, please visit the products section of the RNIB website.
Both Windows and Mac OS provide some control over the working environment of the computer desktop through control panels (available via Start then Settings on a PC or the Apple menu on a Mac). The options vary between systems and between different versions of the same system. Consult your operating system manual or on-screen help for more detailed instructions.
There are a two main ways to control the monitor display to make it easier to view.
Contrast – increasing the contrast, either by a control on the monitor itself or through an on-screen control panel, allows you to improve the definition of images and text.
Colours – the colours of different components of the desktop display, such as window frames and the desktop itself, can be changed to make items easier to see.
The pointer can be made bigger (PCs only) or to move at different speeds. It can also be made to create a ‘jet-stream’ trail as it moves, which makes it easier to follow its movements.
There are a number of alternatives on the keyboard to make it easier to use.
‘Sticky’ keys – this feature allows you to set a modifier key such as SHIFT, ALT or CTRL to stay on until another key is pressed. This helps people who cannot press two keys simultaneously.
‘Filter’ or ‘slow’ keys – this feature instructs the keyboard to ignore keys repeatedly pressed or keys touched momentarily. The rate at which the keyboard repeats a pressed key can also be modified from a control panel.
‘Toggle’ keys – this feature can be set to that the system plays a high sound when any of the LOCK keys are pressed and a low sound when deactivated.
Web browsing software
Most web browsing software packages have settings that allow you to change the size and style of text to suit your needs. These changes usually override the layout of the web document. Below are details of how to change these settings in two of the most common browsers:
Click on the View button and then choose the Increase Font or Decrease Font until the text is the size that suits you best.
Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Click on View, then choose Text Size or Text from the menu and highlight your preferred size.
You can further customise both applications to ensure that you get the best layout possible.
Click on Edit, then choose Preferences from the drop-down list. Click on the Appearance option from the left-hand menu to change the font size and web colours. You can also choose to override certain layouts of the web document, and use your custom settings throughout.
Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Click on Tools, and choose Internet Options from the drop-down list. This opens the General options tab with four buttons along the bottom, for Colours, Fonts, Language and Accessibility. The accessibility button allows you to override the web document layout and use your settings throughout.