Blind World Magazine

How to achieve easier reading on the internet.

The Guardian Unlimited: Technology (UK).
Wednesday, August 23, 2006.

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Easier reading.

My 83-year-old mother is prevented from realistic use of the internet because she cannot read the print on almost every web page. Is there any way of reconfiguring Explorer or Windows?

John Britton

Jack Schofield replies: There are several approaches, and you will need to experiment to find the best solution. Start by making her Windows text larger. Right-click on the desktop and select Properties, open the tab marked Settings, and click the Advanced button at the bottom. This will give you access to the DPI (dots per inch) setting, which is usually 96. You can select Large size (120DPI) or Custom setting. Alternatively, go to the tab marked Appearance, which lets you change only the font size. The options are Normal, Large and Extra Large.

Windows also has several accessibility features, which you can set using the Accessibility Wizard. (Look in the Accessories folder under the Start menu.) The tools include Magnifier, to enlarge parts of the screen, and Narrator, which converts text to speech. You can run these quickly by hitting Windows Key-U. Microsoft has a guide called Windows XP Accessibility Resources at

Apple has a similar guide at

You can also set your mother's browser to use a larger text size. In theory, this is simply a matter of going to View and choosing Text Size in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. However, IE has an error in its text size handling, and some sites fail to allow for this.

Both IE and Firefox have further settings if you go to the Tools menu and select Options or Internet Options. In IE, click the Accessibility button. In Firefox, click on General and go to Fonts & Colors. This lets you set a minimum font size, and choose your own fonts. Also, Firefox and Opera can easily zoom web pages to make them more readable, even if the web designer has fixed the font size. This is beyond IE, though you can install a Zoom Page Favelet that helps.


Microsoft has a page called Internet Explorer 6 Accessibility Resources at

However, on the whole, I think Firefox and Opera are now much more accessible.

Finally, there are lots of Windows screen readers and "talking browsers" that will read text aloud. These include Window-Eyes, Jaws, Thunder, and Natural Reader. Opera has this feature built in. Given the number of malware and "social engineering" attacks on IE users, a change of browser makes sense, so I recommend that your mother try Opera.,,1856511,00.html

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