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What The Heck Is That Icon For?

I recently started to use a tablet in my exam room.  I am not big on change and making this transition was not easy on me.  Adjusting to Windows 8 did not simplify matters at all.  The worst part was every time I started the computer somehow I would turn on a narrator that would start reading my screen for me.  Sometimes when working with patients this was far from ideal as my computer contains information that patients would probably prefer to remain confidential.  I finally figured out that there was an icon in the lower left corner of my screen that I was hitting with my thumb.  For the life of me I could not figure out why it was there but I learned to avoid it and forgot about it.


Last week I had a long time friend and patient come in complaining of difficulty using his computer.  He is in his early eighties and has Camera and Eyemacular degeneration which is the cause of his difficulty in seeing the screen.  He teaches the 14 year olds in Sunday school and it is becoming hard for him to see well enough to prepare his lesson for each Sunday.  Any eighty year old who is willing to take on a classroom full of 14 year olds deserves my respect and help.  I did the best I could to find a glasses prescription that would solve this difficulty for him but just could not make it clear enough because macular degeneration causes the central retina or macula to break down.   An eye is a optical system just like a camera.  Both are made up of a lens system which focuses an image onto a surface.  In a camera the lenses focus the image onto film or a digital sensor, in the eye the lenses focus that image on the retina.  When you have macular degeneration it's like having a camera with bad film, no matter how well you focus the image,  the picture just is not that great.


As I searched for some way to help this great man I asked if he had tried to change any accessability options on his computer.  He said, Ease of Use Icon"the what?   I have no idea what you are talking about".  Now I am not very techy so it took me a moment to figure out how to turn on these options.  As part of figuring out how to turn on these options I figured out what my mystery icon was.  It provides access to the options that could help my friends.  I showed him how to go onto his computer and turn on the Magnifier option which increased the font on the screen by 200% or even more if needed.  We pulled the lesson for the coming week up online and he was thrilled.  Not only was his life benefited by this simple change but also the lives of a bunch of 14 year olds who have one heck of an awesome teacher.


As I mentioned above the accessability options or Ease of Use options and are incredibly easy to access on computers. In fact, I was doing it without even trying.  If your computer has Windows 8, simply touch the icon that appears in that lower left corner when you start your computer up and it will allow you to access a lot of options that will make using the computer a whole lot easier for many people with impaired vision and other difficulties.  Options include;

Narrator-  Reads text on the screen outloud and allow individuals to choose options as they are read by simply pressing the space bar.

Magnifier- Increases images and text on the screen to make them easier to see.

Voice Recognition- Will learn to understand voice commands making seeing the screen or using a key board unnecessary..

Filter Keys-  Will ignore mutilple key strokes so  unsteady fingers will be less of a problem.

And a lot more.  


I have included links to tutorials that can teach how to set up and use all of these wonderful tools that can make using a computer alot more easy and enjoyable for your loved ones who may be facing challenges.  Take a look and give them a try.  You just might improve their life.

I am unfamiliar with Apple but here is their info.



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