Quick Intro to Mac Accessibility Options for Low Vision Users

Because I work with students who are visually impaired, when I think about accessibility options on a Mac computer, I initially jump to VoiceOver - Apple's native screen reader.  However, there are many low vision options that help users - including those of us who are simply "maturing' and whose eyes need larger print, higher contrast or simply more light! I have to admit, that when I spend significant time at my computer, my normal accommodation is using an external monitor (larger screen size).

To locate the Accessibility features on a Mac, go to the Apple symbol in the top left corner of the screen. Select System Preferences > Accessibility > Display.

On my computer, I was having trouble with seeing the light lines on a grid, the outline of a textbox (critical to moving my cursor to the textfield in order to type), etc. In a variety of circumstances, my computer screen was too bright, causing these light lines to disappear. Changing the Display Contrast closer to Normal solved this issue and reduced my eye fatigue. (Full disclosure: I do not have a vision impairment, other than old age!)

Screenshot of Display Contrast near Normal; grey backgrounds distinguishing areas on the screen, lines and tick marks easy to see.

Currently, a screenshot when the Display Contrast is on Maximum appears the same as the screenshot when the Display Contrast is on Normal. The image below is a photo of the screen with the Display Contrast on Maximum. The photo quality is poor quality due to the screen being so bright that it causes a white out. Notice that the grey contrast indicating different areas of the screen is missing and there are no lines or tick marks.

Photo of Mac screen with Display Contrast on Maximum. Screen is whited out - no lines, tick marks, grey areas, etc.

Other features that are beneficial for low vision users include:
  • Reduce Transparency
  • Increasing the cursor size
  • Shake mouse pointer
  • Magnification
  • Zoom
  • Scrolling speed

Details about these low vision features and more can be found here.

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