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New Accessibility Features Anticipated in Windows 7

Both Windows-based and Macintosh computers have several features built into their operating systems that make it possible for users with disabilities to access computers. Detailed explanations for activating these features can be found on Microsoft and Apple’s websites:

  • Microsoft:
  • Apple:

In early 2010 Microsoft is expected to release its newest version of Windows, currently called Windows 7. According to Microsoft presentations at recent national assistive technology conferences (ATIA and CSUN), Windows 7 will improve the accessibility of computers by offering the following new features:

• On-Screen Keyboard: Windows 7’s on-screen keyboard will be resizable, meaning users can choose to make it bigger and/or change its shape. It will also include basic word prediction to help users enter text more quickly. These improvements will especially help people who operate computers with hands-free mice or by single-switch scanning.

• Magnifier: The magnification feature in Windows 7 will offer a choice of modes -- full-screen mode and lens mode. Full-screen mode will increase the size of everything on the screen at once. Windows 7 will include a “context animation” that will zoom out to show the user where the work area is relative to the whole screen, and then will zoom back in. Lens mode will allow a user to zoom in on one particular part of the screen, such as a link or an unfamiliar name. The lens can be re-sized very wide and short for magnifying a document line by line.


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Professor Amy G. Dell

Managing Editor

Anne M. Disdier