Accessibility options give assistance to users who may experience limitations with their sight and hearing, allowing them greater control to interact with their Mac. Setting up these options can help a great deal if your eyes and ears don’t work as well today as they did yesterday.
Open the Apple menu and then select “System Preferences.” In the system preferences box, select “Accessibility.”
To the left, you’ll see numerous categories listed. Most of these are self-explanatory, but I’ll point out some really helpful options.
To the left, click “Display.” Here you can change the appearance of your display. I found that enhancing the contrast really helped me see colors and objects better on my screen. You can also change the size of your cursor by moving the slider to the right or left.
A new feature that I covered months ago in El Capitan is that you can checkmark the box: “Shake mouse pointer to locate.” Move your mouse quickly back and forth and you’ll see the cursor increase in size momentarily, giving you easy view of where your cursor is on the screen. Try each one to see what you like best.
Near the bottom, click the “Open Display Preferences” button. The display tab near the top is selected by default. If you want to change the resolution, meaning the size of your icons and the objects that display on your screen, select “Scaled.” It will show a list of resolution options you can select. Try each one and once you select it, wait for a moment and your screen will adjust. The lower the resolution, the larger things appear on your screen. If the resolution is too low though, some programs may not fit completely on your screen. You can also change the brightness of your screen by moving the slider to the left or right. To select the optimum display for your Mac, just select “Default for display” and wait for it to adjust.
Next, click the “Color” tab near the top. There are many color choices you can select. Again, try each one in the list to the left and choose the one that pleases you most. Once you have made your selections, click the back arrow at the top-left.
Next, on the left, click “VoiceOver.” This allows you to control the computer completely using your keyboard. Next, checkmark the box “Enable VoiceOver.” You will receive an introduction which states “VoiceOver speaks descriptions of the items on the screen and can be used to control the computer using only your keyboard.” If you want to use the VoiceOver option, I suggest you close the welcome box by selecting “Turn Off VoiceOver” and then select “Open VoiceOver Training” to learn how to use it to its fullest.
If you have difficulty hearing, on the left, click “Audio” for options that allow you to see things in addition to hearing them. For example, when an alert is sounded, you can select to have your screen “flash” to make you aware of the alert. Click the “Test Screen Flash” button to see what happens so you’ll recognize it when an alert is flashed.
To supplement the audio sounds on your Mac, you can have captions or subtitles appear to make it easier to “see” what is going on with your computer. To the left, select “Captions.” There are three choices on the right, “Default,” “Classic” and “Large Text.” You can also create a custom style profile by clicking the “+” sign below and then making the choices you want. Be sure to name the profile too. Click “OK” when done.
You can also control your “Keyboard” behavior and “Mouse & Trackpad” behavior. “Switch Control” allows you to designate your mouse, keyboard and gamepad buttons to control your computer, or other dedicated devices. Checkmark the box: “Enable Switch Control” to begin making changes. Once you have made your changes, close all open windows.
In El Capitan, the dictation feature has been upgraded to include new options. Next week, I will cover dictation in depth so you can make an assessment as to whether it will work for you or not.
For 14 years, Scott Lindsay has helped tens of thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 250 articles about the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at ScottLindsay@Live.com.