Tools to Help the Elderly Use Computers

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Tools to Help the Elderly Use Computers
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Computers, electronic gadgetry and Web access are not just for the younger generation. With the advance of computers, even older people are also beginning to enter the fray. The problem is, many elderly people do not have enough background to find their way through the complexities of computer use. Even if they know enough, some of them are limited by physical conditions that come with old age. For this reason, many software and tools are developed to help the elderly with computer use.

Software That Simplifies Interface

One reason why some elderly people find computers difficult to use is the sheer complexity of the windows interface. For this reason, many third-party application programs are developed and designed to simplify how items and functions appear on the computer screen. With the elderly software Point Ware, for example, the home screen will only appear as a simplified white background with several enlarged icon buttons that directly connect to the most commonly used features. You can also set which items to include in the home screen such as mail, photos, Internet, games, etc. Depending on the developer, elderly software can feature many other functions designed to simplify computer use.

Keyboards with Extra-Large Keys

With old age, many people start losing control over their motor skills, and simple activities such as typing can become too challenging. Some also develop severe finger arthritis. With these elderly people in mind, many computer hardware companies started developing special keyboards with extra-large keys. Some of them even feature 1-inch-sized keys such as the Vision 2 Large Key Keyboard. And to those with impaired eyesight, many of these keyboards are also designed to make each character easily identifiable. This is achieved by employing highly contrasting colours. For example, some elderly keyboards developed by Keys-U-See are designed with bright yellow keys and dark which contrast with the characters in dark print.

Voice Recognition Application

Another solution that can help elderly people with their computers is the use of voice recognition programs. These applications are designed to relay commands to the computer and make it do tasks without the use of the keyboard, mouse and other input means. Simply by saying the keywords, your computer can open applications and documents, switch between programs and close or stop applications. Some are also designed to transcribe voice into text, which can make writing e-mails a lot easier. The Windows Vista Operating System, for example, includes a voice recognition application. To make these programs work, you will need a microphone.

Screen Resolution Setup

Sometimes, however, available tools that are readily available in Windows and Macintosh are enough to make computer use easier for the elderly, especially if the problem only has to do with poor eyesight. A simple tweak of the screen resolution to enlarge the icons and make the colour scheme less complicated will do the trick. The settings for this can be found under the properties section. As for elderly people with weakened motor skills, a mouse setting with highly sensitive response can prove hard to control. You can change this set-up in the Devices and Printers section. Right click the mouse icon and hit the Mouse Settings option.

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