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Low Vision Aids for Computer Use

Concerned Business Man at Desk with Computer

Low vision is a condition caused by certain eye diseases that damage parts of the eye, causing individuals to experience significantly reduced vision. Individuals with low vision have some remaining vision, but generally, it’s not sufficient for getting by or engaging in daily tasks without assistance. People with low vision struggle to read, drive, cook or work on a computer without a visual aid. Nowadays, there are many low vision aids available on the market to help those with low vision function independently and perform daily tasks.

Computer use is one activity that often requires visual assistance. The good news is the technology to help those with low vision use computer is always improving.

Below are some devices and aids that can help:

Text Magnifying:

There are a number of ways to enlarge the text on your computer screen, beyond employing handheld magnifiers.

Operating systems:

Both Windows and Mac operating systems include built-in screen magnifiers. While they don’t have as many features as purchased screen reader programs, it may suffice for those with mild low vision.

Browser:

Most browsers (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox) allow you to change the size of the page or text on the screen to suit your needs. To enlarge the text on a PC simply hold down the Control (“Ctrl”) key on your keyboard and either tap the “+” key or roll the wheel on your mouse. To reduce the size tap the “-” key or turn the mouse wheel in the opposite direction. On a MAC, you press command and shift at the same time along with the “+” or “-” keys.

Additionally, the browser might have a drop-down option under the view tab that allows you to zoom the screen in or out or make the text larger or smaller.

Screen magnification programs:

There exist a number of free and paid software programs that enlarge the text, picture, and images on your computer screen.

Screen Readers and Text to Speech Programs:

Various programs enable you to ‘read’ what is on the computer without having to see it. It works by scanning the text and icons on a page and converting it to speech which is read aloud. Some of these programs also have a cursor on the page that moves along with the voice.

Advanced Microsoft and Apple operating systems have built-in screen readers, but features may be limited. The Chrome browser and Android devices do as well. Depending on your abilities, you may opt to purchase a program with more comprehensive options and usability.

If you are looking for something simpler, text-to-speech programs allow you to select a portion of the text you want to read and the program reads it for you.

Screen Contrast

Adjusting your screen to the highest contrast will enable the letters and images on the monitor to stand out. The font should be adjusted to achieve dark text on a light background. Further, it is advisable to reduce glare as much as possible. This may require adjusting window shades and indoor lights or even purchasing an anti-glare screen to reduce glare that can’t be eliminated.

Hardware

You can purchase special keyboards, mice, and monitor magnifiers made specifically to enhance usability for those with low vision. Purchasing a large LCD screen for your monitor will also help to enhance visibility.

Computers can be a window to open our world to information, connections, work and play. Individuals with low vision can access all of this as well with the assistance of specialised software, devices and programs using the strengths and senses that they do possess.

Ask your optometrist for more information about discover how we can help.