Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some tips to handle reading difficulty

Some Tips to handle Reading Difficulty

Most senior citizens are likely to suffer from vision problems as they
age. Some may find that the lighting may not be sufficient. Others may
have hazy vision even after cataract operation. While reading small
print on paper or computer screen is most common, identifying persons,
steps, sign boards or buildings may be problematic to some. Apart from
correctional measures such as cataract operation, well prescribed
glasses, let us see a few simple tips to manage this issue.

If you are a computer buff and frequently come across web pages that
are in small print you may like try these:
1. To see text enlarged you may press Control and Plus one or two
times. The characters get magnified. However the entire page gets
2. If you desire only portions of the screen to be magnified (where
cursor is) then you can use Magnifier available as a part of Windows.
Reach this application like this: Start -> Accessories -> Accessibity
-> Magnifier. You can magnify the screen part to 2,3,4 or more times.
However magnifying too much will result in blurred images. Magnifying
twice or thrice should do. You can leave magnifier on irrespective of
the program you are on. Learn the options fully to make it most
3. Some websites that are senior friendly provide an option to
increase or decrease font size. Use them.
4. When you view an image most applications allow enlargement
indicated by a + sign within a small circle. By clicking on this we
can see larges images.

If you are reading newspapers, books, advertisements or manuals small
print becomes inevitable. While buying a standard magnifying glass
with a sturdy frame and convenient handle is worth it, you may also do
well with substitutes: School Children's Scale often have a magnifying
lens at one end; Flat rectangular thin plastic sheets comprising of
Fresnel lens will also be very handy. If you can't get hold of any of
these and still want to read urgently some fine print (say a phone
number) then take a flat, transparent glass or plastic lid of a
kitchen jar and place a drop of water in the centre. Move this, with
water globule over the text and you will see the text enlarged.

There are specialized tools and equipment fitted with magnifiers
suited to old people. One such device is for clipping nails on your
feet. The website "Old Age Solutions" lists a few of such devices for
visually impaired seniors. One can overcome reading difficulties
caused due to poor vision in these simple ways.


  1. Nice article: balances usefulness of suggestions with simplicity in following them. Couple of other ideas that may help: in the Firefox browser, go to Tools -> Options -> Content -> Advanced (under Fonts and Colors). Then select the fonts and font size that you find legible and ensure that "Allow pages to choose their own fonts..." is unchecked. From then on, any page you visit with the browser will have text in the specified font and size.

    Another option is to use Bookmarklets, in particular the ones named "Readability" and "Tidy Read". With these, you can leave the browser settings untouched (web pages continue to use default fonts), but when you encounter a page that is hard to read, click on one of these Bookmarklets and have the page presented in a much larger, clearer, and easy to read font.

    Of course, both these require a bit of work for the complete computer novice :-). But the hope is that once things are set up, less work is needed when you're doing the actual browsing/reading.

  2. Thanks, Rajeev for enriching the article. Both points are new to me! Forunateltely I am (computer) literate enough to apply them.