Rant about Windows accessibly

Many of you may or may not know that I am legally blind. I use computers on a daily basis, and plan on going to college for Computer Science. I can pretty much use a computer normally (without the assistance of enlarging software) but need to be a few inches from the screen to read any text. I have used all three major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, and a few Linux distros). Out of all three, Windows has been the worst in terms of accessibility. Before Windows 7, as many of you may know, the only built in screen magnification software split the screen in half, one with the regular size, then a docked window which showed the zoomed in view. This is horribly inconvenient, inefficient, and just doesn’t work well.
With Windows 7, it has been much improved. If you haven’t used the built in Windows 7 magnifier, it basically brings up a small window with options to increase/decrease the zoom level, as well as change the view between full screen, lens, and docked. This means that all of the major OS’s have some kind of full screen magnification tool, but Windows is still behind in my book. On Mac OS X (and Linux even) you can hold a key and scroll up and down the the trackpad. In Windows, you have to either hit Win+/- or press the two buttons in the magnifier window. This could be much more intuitive. Also, while zooming in Windows, it increases a set amount each time, so it’s not very smooth. On OS X and Linux it is a very smooth zoom in and out. This may not seem like such a big deal but when using it on a daily basis, it is.
There are other programs you can buy for Windows that will do a better job (one I use is called ZoomText), but these are expensive. Luckily, I get a free copy of ZoomText because of my blindness. This program is better than the built in Windows magnifier, but it still doesn’t have a smooth zooming experience. It is also less intuitive just because on most Windows laptops, you don’t have multitouch scrolling (just moving your finger along the side of the touchpad).
To simply this post:
Mac and Linux – Intuitive and smooth scrolling with two finger scrolling.
Windows – A good enough magnifier but isn’t as smooth or intuitive as other platforms. Expensive alternatives exist but still aren’t as good as the defaults on other platforms.
I really hope Microsoft improves their magnifier program on future versions of Windows.

  1. #1 by Casque Dre on October 6, 2011 - 6:24 pm

    I would just like to let you realize just how much I learnt from your blogs.Hope to be back in the close to future for some a lot more goodies.

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