How to customise Ease of Access settings in Windows 10
Windows 10 contains a full suite of settings to configure Ease of Access or accessibility options for users with visual, aural or physical impairments. This guide will take you through the options available.
- Click on the Windows Start icon (or the Action Centre icon) and then click Settings.
- In the main Windows 10 settings menu, click Ease of Access.
With the Ease of Access settings open, you can configure a range of options to help make your Windows 10 computer easier to interact with.
- High contrast display themes
- Closed captioning
- Keyboard options
- Mouse options
- Other visual options
The Narrator will read out everything on screen, including text and action buttons. There are several voices to choose from (so you can pick an accent that you like hearing and can understand) and you can fine-tune the speed and pitch of the narration to help you further.
- Open the Ease of Access settings as described above.
- Select Narrator on the left-hand menu.
- Turn the Narrator on by clicking the first switch, which will enable some other options.
As you scroll down the page you will find a drop-down menu to choose the voice you'd like to hear. You will hear the new voice as soon as you change the setting.
By default, the Narrator will read out all relevant information from the screen, but you can choose specific information to be narrated by clicking the relevant switches. In addition, you can make the cursor more visible by giving it a highlight, and have it move along the screen following the narrator's point of reference.
The Magnifier needs little explanation – it magnifies whatever is on your screen.
- Open the Ease of Access settings as previously described.
- On the left, click Magnifier.
- To turn the screen magnifier on, click the first switch below Magnifier. This will turn on the magnifier and enable the other magnification options.
With the Magnifier enabled, moving the mouse will move the desktop image around the screen, as it will now be too large to fit everything on screen at once. There are options to invert the screen colours (giving a high-contrast environment) and also for the Magnifier to start automatically when Windows starts.
Windows incorporates four high-contrast colour schemes to make the screen easier to read for users with visual impairments. There are two colourful ones to choose from, and also two more subdued ones, with high contrast black or white themes.
- Open the Ease of Access settings as previously described, and on the left click High contrast.
- Click on the drop-down box to Choose a theme.
- Clicking on a theme in the list will show you a preview of it, allowing you to see how the various elements of Windows will be represented in the theme.
- If you're happy with the preview, click Apply and Windows 10 will apply the theme for you. If not, you can click the drop-down menu to select another theme, or choose None to remove the high contrast themes and return to the standard Windows colour scheme.
Windows 10 offers a host of options to customise how Closed Captions are displayed through the Video and Windows Media Player apps, and offer textual representations of the soundtrack contained within a multimedia recording (either video or audio).
- With the Ease of Access settings open, click Closed captioning in the left-hand menu.
- There are drop-down menus to customise many visual aspects of both the Font, and the Background and window that the captions display over. Click each menu to make your choice for that selection.
You can choose from a variety of colours and styles for the captions, as well as their size and whether you'd like to add any effects such as a drop shadow. You can also choose the colour and transparency of the captions' background.
The Ease of Access settings for Windows 10 gives you an easy way to put a keyboard on the screen, allowing you to use the mouse to replicate keystrokes. You can also decide how Windows interprets different key combinations.
- Open the Ease of Access settings as previously described, and select Keyboard from the menu on the left.
- To turn on the on-screen keyboard, click the top switch.
- There are switches to enable Sticky keys (allowing you to press a modifier such as the Control or Alt key separately to the actioning key), Toggle keys (which makes the Lock keys emit a sound when used) and Filter keys (which ignores brief repeated keystrokes).
In addition there are options to control how the computer responds (both visually and audibly) when you use keyboard shortcuts.
The mouse options within the Ease of Access centre enables you to make the mouse more visible, and easier to control.
- With the Ease of Access centre open, click Mouse in the menu on the left.
- Click your chosen option to select the size of the mouse pointer, and its colour.
- By enabling the switch below the size and colour options, you can use the numeric keypad on the keyboard to move the mouse around the screen, and there are options to allow you to use other keys to alter the mouse's behaviour when being controlled by the keyboard.
There are some more options that control how Windows 10 displays certain elements of the display, including the notifications that appear in the bottom-right corner of Windows.
- Open the Ease of Access settings as described above, and select Other options.
- Choose whether to allow Windows 10 to display animations or disable the background by turning these elements off with the switches provided.
There is a drop-down menu to alter the time notifications are shown, and you can change the cursor thickness by moving the slider to make it easier to locate.
That concludes our guide to customising ease of access options within Windows 10 – but be sure to check out our entire series of helpful free guides to making the most of Microsoft's new operating system. And if you need further assistance with this or any other aspect of Windows 10, or technical support on any other device, why don't you check out our support options here.
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