Microsoft: Ease of access Centre

I’m not a big Microsoft fan and have done my share of cursing at Windows Vista, but it’s the platform I have and one I have had on and off for more than ten years. I may be fan of the Ease of Access Center.

It’s not really a shock that I’m struggling to set up the features available, as it’s the catch 22 situation that I often find myself in. I need to be able to use my computer as is in order to adapt it to my needs. I can’t access the feature until it’s configurated. Or maybe I could with a little efford it I can locate the ‘Contor Panel’ and click on the ‘Ease of Access Center’ icon. At this point, if visual or auditory problems is your main concern, the text magnifier and the text to speech tool kicks in straight away.

The changes that can be made are rather limited. I was hoping to be able to configure my new joystick to replace a mouse, but no such luck. The only alternative input devices supported are an on-screen keyboard and speech recognition. Damn.

I have found the toggle keys function so that a high pitch sound is emitted when Caps lock, Num Lock or Scroll lock are turned on and a low pitched sound when it is turned off.

I have also found the setting to enlarge text which will activate after a restart, so we’ll have to wait and see what the effect of that will be. I don’t like the magnification bar, but I guess it has its use for people with different visual issues than me. I don’t like the text to speech feature and this is one that I do need, so I guess I will have to learn to like it. I am particularly struggling to understand computerized voices, but maybe that could be improved with use. We’ll just have to try it and see.

I am still not a Microsoft fan. In fact, the browse through the access centre with the link at the bottom of every page that says “Learn about assistive technologies on-line that actually takes me to the home page of windowsmarketplace.com has just annoyed me. I don’t want to upgrade to Windows Vista, I don’t care what a Digital Locker is (it’s NOT ‘my digital locker’) and I most definitely do not want to shop at the new Microsoft Store. I wanted to know more about assistive technologies, but that’s not mentioned once at all anywhere on the page I was linked to.

PS When I say ‘I’, I real mean ‘we’, that is me and Chris-looking-over-my-shoulder-and-pointing, then grabbing the mouse as I start panicking ‘how do I turn off the magnifier?’, and hitting the audio mute as I really start to panic ‘how I make the sound stop?’. What can I say – I’m easily panicked when machines suddenly seem to develop minds of their own.

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