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Monday, April 3, 2017

Using accessibility features of MS OS and IE browser for low vision and color blindness

Two screen shots without (top) and without (bottom) using accessibility feature in MS IE browser for low vision and color blindness

PHOTO: The accessibility features for low vision blindness and color blindness, which are built into the standard Microsoft Windows 7 Internet Explorer Web Browser application, are demonstrated above with two screen shots of the same Google Blogger warning page -- The top screen shot shows the normal tont sizes and colors, which are not accessible to me because my low vision and color blindness prevents me from seeing the headline, "Content Warning," nor the button label saying, "I understand and wish to continue." The bottom screen shot shows the same Blogger warning page while using the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser with some accessibility features turned on, of which are also affected by the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system accessibility features used to increase the screen and font sizes.

As my low vision blindness has been gradually worsening, I have to use more and more of the accessibility features built into the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system and the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser application. Until recently, the only changes I needed were to adjust the screen resolution and increase the font sizes, but after my Blue-Orange-Yellow color blindness worsened, to where Blue text looks black to me and Orange or Yellow text are invisible to me, I have also been forced to change the color scheme in both Windows and IE.

For example, in the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web broswer, to help my low vision, I go to the Menu pull eown for Tools -> Internet Options ... General tab -> Accessibility button -> Select Formatting and check Ignore colors specified on webpages, ignore text styles specified on webpages, and ignore font sizes specified on webpages, as seen in the example screen shot above. In addition to doing this, the MS IE browser "Tools" pull down menu also has an Internet Options -> Colors button selection for the text colors and background colors, which I had to optimize to see it best, along with a "Fonts" button to select the default font style "Webpage font: Arial and plain text font "Courier New" for easier reading.

In the Windows 7 operating system, Right clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalize ... will go to the Windows Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Personalization to select a color theme, where I needed to set up a custom one to maximize my ability to see. I also selected in the Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Display -> Make the text larger of smaller and set it to 150% to also make it easier to read.

The more complete list of accessibility settings for the Windows Operating system can be found from the Windows Control Panel home page under "Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center -> Make the computer easier to see. I played with one of the options, "Choose High Contrast Theme," but I have been unable to set it up in a way I can see with my color blindness or that works well with many IE Web pages (e.g. without turning pictures black, etc.) and so I typically leave it off. Note, to turn on or off "High Contrast" for the Windows 7 OS press on the keyboard the alt key, left shift key plus print key simultaneously, which by default gives you a warning and a sound when it changes. This is hard as hell to use and I have been unable to change the colors it uses to ones that I can see.

As a child I saw my grandparents struggle with low blindness and so when I was helping to invent the first Hewlett-Packard personal computers in the 1970's and 1980's with graphic window operating systems, I pitched the idea of accessibility both corporate-wide and to Bill Gates, who was then the young founder of Microsoft. I am grateful the idea was embraced because I never thought I would need it, and in my experience, accessibility, when implemented voluntarily by companies, usually results in more useful aids to the disabled than does any government law or mandate, such as the Americans With Disability Act, which is important, but only nudges the laggards to address accessibility issues.