Making Laptop Use Easier For Elders

By Jane Vincent, Center for Accessible Technology

Adjust text length

Adjust coloration comparison

Introduce use of keyboard shortcuts

Use massive-print keyboards with white textual content on a black background

Provide top lights in the pc environment

Use “puffy paint” to make keys easier to discover

Provide a manner to anchor keyboards

Offer trackballs as an alternative to standard mice

Design web sites with elders in mind

Don’t make assumptions about person competencies 1. Adjust text length.

Almost all elders advantage from as a minimum a slight boom in textual content length. Control panel alternatives in Windows, ease of access middle and the customary get right of entry to for Mac allow the scale of many device factors, including conversation packing containers and title bars, to be adjusted. Current versions of both Windows and Mac systems have easy magnification skills.

In addition, “zoom” skills are built into many standard packages, including Microsoft Office applications and most browsers. Larger video display units, particularly the LCD monitors which are wider than they’re tall, can help customers make the most of enlarged textual content. LCD video display units have the added gain of resisting glare, which becomes a greater good sized trouble as individuals age.

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2. Adjust colour assessment.

With age, our capability to differentiate among sure colour pairs diminishes, particularly among white/yellow and blue/blue-grey. The identical Windows manage panel options that permit textual content size to be adjusted additionally allow users to specify choices for each textual content and heritage colorations. Browsers also have settings that allow customers to make settings that affect shades on a few (however not all) web sites.

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3. Introduce use of keyboard shortcuts.

With age, mousing velocity and precision typically lower. Use of a few not unusual keyboard shortcuts (such as pressing ALT to move the cursor up to the menu bar after which the usage of arrow keys to navigate the menus) can lessen frustration without requiring big memorization.

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four. Use big-print keyboards with white textual content on a black historical past.

As we become old, our students absorb less light – a 90% discount between age 20 and age eighty. This manner that white-on-black keyboards are regularly easier to see. Some keyboards already come with massive print keys (black-on-white and black-on-gold are different available colour

mixtures), or large print labels with adhesive backing can be purchased from a number of assets and placed on wellknown keyboards.

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five. Provide right lighting inside the pc environment.

Natural lighting is most effective to synthetic lighting fixtures; make certain that the screen is perpendicular to the mild source to lessen glare. If overhead fluorescents are the most effective options inside the room, don’t forget investing in inexpensive gooseneck lamps in order that customers can attention lighting fixtures at the keyboard, the typing stand, or whatever they are viewing.

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6. Use “puffy paint” to make keys less complicated to find.

Because tactile sensitivity decreases with age, older contact-typists may additionally have extra difficulty locating the small nubs on the F and J keys. Puffy paint, additionally known as cloth or 3-d paint, is to be had in most craft shops and may be dotted on any key to offer a larger tactile manual. It can also be used to assist orient computer neophytes to the keyboard; as an instance, drawing a big “T” on the Tab key the use of crimson-orange paint provides both a tactile and visual cue.

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7. Provide a way to anchor keyboards.

Many older pc customers will press tougher than essential to spark off keys, either due to reduced hand energy or truely because they’ll be used to the stress had to prompt typewriter keys. This can be ameliorated by use of some strips of Velcro to anchor the keyboard securely but still allow it to be moved when desired. Non-slip matting, that is available in maximum hardware stores or shops which include Target, is every other option; it holds the keyboard to the desk without requiring any type of everlasting set up.

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8. Offer trackballs as an alternative to standard mice.

New laptop customers may additionally find trackballs greater intuitive than widespread mice. In addition, trackballs leave out the need for vast arm movements. Finally, many elders have trouble maintaining the same old mouse still at the same time as they click; because trackballs normally requires the consumer to take their hand off the ball to press a button, unintentional cursor motion is much less frequent.

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9. Design websites with elders in mind.

In addition to following general tips for internet site accessibility, designers of sites to be able to be used by elders need to avoid making text smaller than 12 factors. The ability to pick out out statistics within a visual field also decreases with age, so avoid designing pages that cram a massive range of hyperlinks right into a small space.

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10. Don’t make assumptions approximately user abilties.

Many present day seniors are savvy computer customers, and Boomers are already representing the first era to age with years of laptop enjoy. The potential to study doesn’t disappear with age; alternatively, getting to know patterns change. Large-print cheat sheets and the usage of familiar metaphors to provide an explanation for laptop functions (e.g., showing users that computers have a extent manipulate, much like a TV) may be beneficial training gear.

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