From the Kenosha News on 9-10-06

Change your Windows settings for older eyes and hands

Like most people, my eyes are getting older. If seeing your screen or manipulating the mouse or keyboard are getting more difficult, here are some Windows settings you can adjust. All of these items use a Control Panel, which can be accessed by clicking the Start button and clicking Control Panel. (You may need to click Start, then Settings, then Control Panel.) If your Control Panel screen says “Pick a Category” and only shows a few icons, click “Switch to Classic View” near the upper left of the screen.

First, you can adjust the size of the icons and words on your screen. Use the Display control panel. While you can change the screen resolution altogether under the Settings tab, I don’t recommend this for novices or people with older computers. Instead, go to the Appearance tab. You can change the font size (the size of the words) on your desktop from Normal to Large or Extra Large using the drop-down menu. To change the size of the icons on the desktop, click the Effects button; check the box next to Use Large icons. Click Apply and OK.

Another option on the Appearance tab of the Display control panel is the color scheme. You can select a color scheme that appeals to you more or that is easier to see. Supposedly, the High Contrast schemes can be viewed more easily. I found the “High Contrast Black” option to be pretty illegible, but the “High Contrast White” option could be easier to see for people with visual limitations.

Second, if you have problems double-clicking the mouse, you can adjust these settings using the Mouse control panel. On the Buttons tab, change the double-click speed to a slower setting by sliding the slider farther left toward Slow. If you’re left-handed and actually use the mouse with your left hand, you can also check the box next to “Switch primary and secondary buttons” to give you a left-handed mouse.

On the Pointers tab of the Mouse control panel, you can set your mouse pointer to “Windows Standard (extra large)” to give you a larger arrow for your mouse pointer, making it easier to see and find your pointer on the screen. I don’t recommend selecting one of the “cute” mouse pointer collections unless you really want to take the time to get used to pointing with odd icons like dinosaurs’ tails. If it always seems to take a lot of work to get the mouse to go where you want, you may have your pointer speed set too high or too low. Click the Pointer Options tab and adjust the pointer speed until you find a speed that works well for you. An interesting option on this same tab is the Snap To option, which always positions your mouse pointer over the active button on the screen.

Finally, if you have problems with getting multiple letters when typing, you can adjust the sensitivity of your keyboard using the Keyboard control panel. On the Speed tab, change the Repeat Delay to a longer interval. You may also want to reduce the Repeat Rate. Always click Apply to make the changes.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 9-10-06