Your Guide to Accessibility and Screen Magnifier Software

Screen magnifier software is available in all shapes and sizes. From a basic magnifier built-in to operating systems to specialist software. They can be controlled by touch, keyboard, mouse or a specialised device. The main purpose is to make the visual display larger and easier to see for people with low vision.

How does screen magnifier software work?

Some will split the screen so that one section is magnified while the other is not. The split may be a left to right or a top to bottom split.

Others may use a boxed area on the screen that is moved around the display showing magnified content inside the box while showing at its original size outside the box. The box may be square, rectangle or circular.

The last type will magnify the whole screen showing only a small section of the display at any one time.

What’s in common with all of these methods is that you only get a small magnified section of the display at any one time.

What kind of magnification is available?

The level of magnification can be very slight from as little as 2% increase to very high magnification up to as much as 64 times the original size.

Some screen magnifiers will only enlarge the text content while others will enlarge everything. Some will also include colour contrast options for better visibility. Things like inversed colours or high contrast colours.

Some will enlarge the mouse pointer while others will use a fixed mouse pointer within the magnified area.

As well as this, there are various specialist monitors and stands, designed to give better visibility and comfort for people with limited sight.

Accessibility for Screen Magnifier Users

It is important to remember, you will only get a small part of the display at any given time. So things like having information presented in rows with one thing aligned to the left while the other part aligned to the right, across a wide screen without any visual guide can make it difficult to track with a mouse.

Form validation can cause difficulty if the error messages are placed away from the field which is at fault, This can make it hard to know what is wrong where.

Mouse activated tooltips can be a problem for screen magnifier users. If the tooltip extends outside the magnified area and moving the mouse hides the tooltip, they may never be able to see the whole tooltip.

This is the same for some drop down or pop out menus especially if they do not have any keyboard control.

Many screen magnifier users will use a keyboard over a mouse for faster access to content. So having visual indication of focused items can help them know where they are.

Things to note

There is both the visual and control aspects of your website to consider when looking at screen magnifier users. Remember people may combine screen magnifier software with a screen reader or voice control software. So it is important to understand a whole range of assistive technology and how people use them.

Have your say

Have you ever used or seen screen magnifier software used?

Why not share your thoughts on screen magnifier software and accessibility or ask me any questions you may have on the subject.

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