Assistance using Microsoft Windows XP

Using the Accessibility Wizard

The Accessibility Wizard can quickly configure your system with XP's built in utilities, to make it a little easier to use and live with. The "wizard" is started by running All Programs, Accessories, Accessibility then Accessibility Wizard. Click here to see the menu option.

The first window you will probably see, after the "welcome" window may look like the following:

This allows you to select the default text size you want to use. The top option (selected in the image above) uses standard size text, although you can still adjust it with you Internet Browser. The middle option selects larger text and windows titles, including the icons displayed on your screen. The third and bottom option selects larger text and in addition switches on the magnifier. Follow the instructions or click on the option showing the smallest text you can easily read. Click or select the Next option when you have made your choice, but be patient as the next window may take a little while (up to a minute) to show. When it does, you should see something like the one below:


There are quite a few options on this screen, with some options preselected based on your choice in the previous screen. The following may help to explain them;
Change the font size
This option uses larger fonts for windows and menus. It will also increase the size of the icons displayed on the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.

Switch to a lower screen resolution
This option will effectively make everything appear larger on the screen, incluing text within windows which would have been unaffected by the previous option.
With some monitors, this will only create a smaller visible arera and not actually change the resolution. However, you are able to see the effect immediately and choose wether or not to accept the new setting.

Use Microsoft Magnifier
Thie switches on the magnifier, the settings for which are described on other pages on this site.

Disable personalized menus
In Windows XP, menus are automatically updated to keep the menu options you use most often at the top of your menu where they are usually more accessible. However, if you find this more of a hindrance than a help, you can disable it with this option. Why it is considered to be an accessibility feature is a bit of a puzzle, since quite a few users who don't use the accessibility options find this irritating!

When you have made your choices, select Next to configure the system as requested. You should then see a window like he following:


The effect of each of these options is detailed below:

I am blind or have difficulty seeing things on screen
This, if selected and Next is pressed, takes you through set of options where you can select larger window borders and scroll bars, larger icons, higher contrast colour schemes, change the size and colour of the mouse cursorand change the blink rate and width of the cursor. All of these choices have immediate effect (although you may have to change to the desktop or another running application to see them) and an option at the end to keep the changes or put things back as they were, so don't be afraid to try them!

I am deaf or have difficulty hearing sounds from the computer
This, if selected and Next is pressed, takes you through some alternative assistance options. The first allows you to set the system to generate visual warnings whenever the system generates a sound - only software supporting this feature will behave differently, much already does such as your email program indicating that a new message as arrived visually as well as generating a sound. This is followed by another option to enable captions for speech and sounds generated by the computer, which when enabled can cause the window for the application generating the sound to flash.

I have difficulty using the keyboard or mouse
The first option this presents is to switch on "Sticky Keys". This assist you when key cominations are required, such as pressing the Ctrl, Alt and Delete keys all at the same time. With this feature enabled, you would achieve this by first pressing Ctrl, then Alt and finally Delete. The system also notifies you when such a sequence has been started.
The next option is to tell the computer to ignore repeated keystrokes, which can be useful for people who find the accidentally press the same key more than once.
The next option is to have the computer make a sound whenever you press Caps Lock, Num Lock or Scroll Lock. This is in addition to the visual indicators you find on most keyboards and also the indication often given on the screen.
The next option allows you to enable additional keyboard help (for programmes which offer it), which can be useful if you do not use a mouse. The system will tell you some of the keyboard actions you can use instead of requiring the mouse. Knowing such hortcuts can be very useful as it allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard rather than having to use the mouse for certain operations.
The next option allows you to use the numeric keypad (the section of you keyboard with the digits 0 to 9 plus "+", "-", Ins and Del keys in it, instead of the mouse. For example, pressing the "+" key will have the same effect as double clicking with the mouse and the arrow keys have the effect of moving the mouse.
The next option allows you to choose a mouse cursor size and olour from a selection of ones desined to make ir easier to work with.
The next option allows you to set the mouse for left or right handed use by reversing the function of the buttons for left handed people. As with many of the options, the effect is immediate, so if you switch over to try left handed use, remember to use the right mouse button for future clicks!
The next option allows you to adjust the mouse pointer speed from quite sedate to rapid movement cross the screen with even small physical movements of the mouse. It is best to experiment with this and find out what you are comfortable with - you can always adjust it again later if you find the current setting a little awkward.
The next option is finally it! You will see a summary of the changes you have made along with an option to Finish and make them permanent. Alternatively, you can Cancel and put things back as they were before you started.

I want to set administrative options
These options are a little more sophisticated and give the following choices:
Turn off the accessibility features when a use logs off or the computer has been idle for a set number of minutes. This can be useful if more than one peron uses the computer and they don'et all want the accessibility options on. The default opion is to leave the accessibility features on.
The settings can be applied to all users, including new users, or set for the current user only (the default choice).
As with the previous options, you have a final selection of Finish or Cancel after you have used this.