While they didn’t necessarily debut at CES, Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Office 2010 accessibility options were on full display at the show, where they were easily pulled up on any number of laptops. What sets Microsoft apart from other operating systems – at least in terms of accessibility – is how customizable its features are.
Instead of providing one basic feature for people who have trouble seeing or hearing, Microsoft has done its research to tackle the most common problems people face. They then translated this data to determine what the most common problems these users would face when working on a computer.
The result is a short survey that aims to identify and compensate for your exact problem. For example, the first part of the survey evaluates your visual needs. It provides four statements, such as “Images on TV are difficult to see (even when I’m wearing glasses)” and asks you to check all that apply.
Next, it tackles your dexterity, as the system tries to determine whether you have difficulties grasping pens and pencils, or cannot use a keyboard. A hearing survey follows, during which time you can state whether you regularly have trouble following conversations, or cannot hear the computer over background noise. Speech and reasoning skills are also examined.
Once the system has a feel for your precise needs it will suggest which accessibility options it thinks will work for you, such as a magnifier if you have trouble reading the computer screen.
If you’re a senior who experiences these types of problems, you may want to consider a Windows 7- or Office 2010-based computer system.