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For years the accessibility features in Windows operating systems have helped individuals with disabilities find rewarding employment.

Accessibility features available in Windows NT Workstation 4.0 fall into the categories below.

For Users With Low Vision

  • Scaleable user interface elements. Users with limited vision or eyestrain can adjust the sizes of window titles, scroll bars, borders, menu text, icons, and other elements. These features are completely customizable through the Display property sheet in the Control Panel.

  • Customizable mouse pointer. Users who have difficulty seeing or following the mouse pointer can now choose from normal, large, or extra-large sizes. From the Mouse property sheet in the Control Panel they can adjust the mouse color and add animation to increase the pointer's visibility.

Features for Easier Keyboard and Mouse Input

  • StickyKeys. For people who type with a single finger or mouth stick, commands that require the simultaneous pressing of two or more keys (e.g., ALT+TAB) are a problem. With StickyKeys, users can press one key at a time and instruct Windows to respond as if the keys had been pressed simultaneously.

  • FilterKeys. Users who brush against unintended keys will benefit from FilterKeys, which instructs Windows to disregard keystrokes that are not held down for a minimum period of time. Most keyboards allow users to repeat keys by holding them down. This motion can be a problem for users with impaired dexterity. FilterKeys lets users adjust or turn off the repeat feature. And it allows users who accidentally bounce or double-strike keys to instruct Windows to ignore the extra taps.

  • MouseKeys. Users can control the mouse pointer using the keyboard, including clicking, double-clicking, and dragging and dropping with both mouse buttons.

Features for Users Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • SoundSentry. This feature tells Windows to send a visual cue, such as a blinking title bar or screen flash, whenever the system makes a sound. Turning on this feature allows users to see messages that they might not have heard.

  • ShowSounds. Some applications present information audibly using digitized speech or other audible cues that might be unusable by a person who is deaf or hard of hearing. In Windows NT 4.0, users can choose to let applications know they want visible feedback, in effect asking the applications to display closed-captions for their sounds, if the application has closed-captions built in.

  • Chat. The Windows Chat utility allows up to eight people to hold a "conversation" by typing on their networked computers, a handy alternative to telephones in work environments that include people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Customizable sound schemes. Users who are hard of hearing or working in a noisy environment can adjust the sounds as well as volume associated with various onscreen events to make them easier to distinguish. The sounds are completely customizable through the Control Panel.

Features in Support of Alternative Input Devices

  • SerialKeys. SerialKeys allows the user to control the personal computer using adaptive equipment such as alternative keyboards or augmentative communication devices that connect to the personal computer's serial port.

Other Accessibility Features

  • Online Help. Accessibility information is easy to find: looking up Accessibility in the online Help index provides a quick reference and pointers to further information.

  • Automatic reset. Machines used by the public or by multiple users will benefit from the automatic reset feature that returns a system to its default configuration after a specified idle time.

  • Emergency hot-key activation. Some users may not be able to control the accessibility features through the Control Panel. For them, emergency hot keys make it easy to turn on any major accessibility feature. The hot keys won't get in the way of users who don't need them, and they can be turned off temporarily when users with different levels of ability share a computer.

  • Cursor blink rate. Many people with epilepsy can have seizures triggered by flashing events on their computer screens. The cursor blink rate can be set by the user in Windows. As a system metric, this blink rate can be used by software developers who can link it to their flashing events (for instance, in games). Thus the user could set such events to a rate that wouldn't affect them.

  • User profiles. Several users of the same machine can now use their log-in and password information to set preferences and desktop settings, including accessibility features needed by any of them. Found on the Password property sheet in the Control Panel.

Many software and hardware developers have created additional accessibility products for users of Windows NT Workstation. Check out the catalog of products.*

The Microsoft Training Group provides numerous titles for Windows NT 4.0 Server and Workstation. Below are two examples that you can download now:

*Customizing Windows NT 4.0
*The Microsoft Windows Keyboard Guide

For more information (including the above downloads), visit our accessibility site.*

Last Updated: Friday, May 11, 2001
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