Friday, September 01, 2006

Utility Manager for Accessibilty Assistance

Someone recently reminded me of an issue that a previous Technical Trainer worked on. While we currently do not have any high tech accessibility tools to assist some of our customers, Windows does have a few built-in tools that are decent. To access these tools, hit the Windows key and U at the same time. The Windows key is located to the left of the Space Bar in between the CTRL and ALT keys.

This brings up the Utility Manager that has three options on it. Here is an overview of those three options:


Magnifier is a display utility that makes the screen more readable for users who have low vision. Magnifier creates a separate window that displays a magnified portion of your screen. Magnifier is intended to provide a minimum level of functionality for users with slight visual impairments.


Narrator is a text-to-speech utility for users who are blind or have low vision. Narrator reads what is displayed on your screen: the contents of the active window, menu options, or the text you have typed.

Narrator has a number of options that allow you to customize the way screen elements are read.

  • You can have new windows, menus, or shortcut menus read aloud when they are displayed.

  • You can have typed characters read aloud.

  • You can have the mouse pointer follow the active item on the screen.

  • You can adjust the speed, volume, or pitch of the voice.

On Screen Keyboard

On-Screen Keyboard is a utility that displays a virtual keyboard on your screen and allows users with mobility impairments to type data using a pointing device or joystick. On-Screen Keyboard is intended to provide a minimum level of functionality for users with mobility impairments. It is also useful for users who do not know how to type.

Here is a link to Microsoft's overview.

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