This section is designed for those who have some experience with computers and who are recently visually impaired, and for those computer novices with visual impairments who have recently purchased a computer with the help of the information in Part I of this guide. In Part II, we'll first take a look at which parts of the computing experience require accessibility solutions, then we'll introduce screen readers and screen magnifiers. Be sure to read why keyboarding and keyboard shortcuts are critical to accessible computing before launching into our detailed discussion of Windows and Apple accessibility settings and software.

Using a Computer With Low Vision or Without Sight

You may be asking yourself, “How is it possible to use a computer when I can no longer see the screen well enough to read the text or manipulate a computer mouse?” The good news is that you can indeed operate a computer, even with absolutely no sight at all. As a sight-impaired individual, the difficulties you may encounter when learning to use or continuing to use a computer fall into just a few basic categories:

  • Accessing the screen to determine the location of all the various menus and controls you will need to surf the Internet, create a document, read your e-mail, or use any other computer program.
  • Keeping track of the constant flow of new screen information.
  • Using a computer mouse to navigate the screen and issue commands.
  • Confirming that the information you enter into documents and fields is correct and in the right location.

Believe it or not, accomplishing any and all of the above poses no insurmountable challenges. How you can best accomplish these tasks will depend on your level of sight.