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This is the first of a three-part series on ways to make digital devices easier to use for seniors. It was originally published by Community Technology Network (CTN) and is reprinted here by permission of CTN Executive Director Kami Griffiths. All images in the piece are courtesy of CTN as well.
Elderly users of digital devices are increasing in numbers. More than half of online seniors in America use Facebook nowadays. As seniors continue to make up a growing portion of today's digital society, it is important that they be able to confidently use their devices. The following how-to directions will hopefully be useful for nonprofit staffers and librarians to help their constituents and patrons with sight impairment to magnify text and images on their screens so they can more easily see them.
Magnification is a great way to increase the zoom level on devices to temporarily enlarge items displayed on the screen. Since system settings like font and icon sizes are preserved, it is especially useful if the device is used by multiple people, such as younger relatives who don't require magnification.
On Android devices, enable magnification by going to Settings > Accessibility > Magnification gestures, then setting the switch to On.
Once they are enabled, you can use the following gestures for control:
On iOS devices, enable magnification by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom, then turning the switch On.
IOs control gestures are similar to Android's.
Additionally, you can enable the Zoom Controller — a translucent, floating button that provides advanced zoom functionality — via Settings > General > Accessibility > Show Controller.
Once the controller is enabled, you can toggle between windowed and full-screen zoom modes (especially useful on larger-display devices like iPads), apply display filters, and use a drag slider instead of gestures to change the zoom level.
On Windows devices, enable magnification by pressing Windows key + U, then clicking Start Magnifier.
You can adjust the zoom level by clicking the magnifying glass, then the + and - buttons. Moving the cursor to the edges of the screen pans the view. You can change settings like mouse pointer and keyboard focus by clicking the magnifying glass, then the gear icon.
Many Windows programs, such as Chrome and Firefox, allow you to easily change the zoom level by using the keyboard shortcuts of Ctrl + Wheel Up and Ctrl + Wheel Down to zoom in and out. To reset the zoom level back to 100 percent, press Ctrl + 0.
Additionally, if the senior is using a touch-enabled Windows device, pinch-to-zoom works in many programs, including Internet Explorer and Chrome.
Images: Community Technology Network
This isn't just making tech tools easier for seniors - it's also making tech tools more accessible for EVERYONE. I'm not a senior - not quite yet. But I wear reading glasses, and I find these features really helpful to me for when I don't have my glasses on but want to look at something on my phone.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.