Webinar: Adjust Your Computer. Change Your Life.

Every computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone can be adjusted using the settings that are built in. For some people it's just about personalisation. For a disabled person it can be life-changing. In this this free webinar you will learn about:

  • The options available on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones - How to know what adjustments to make
  • Common problems that we deal with on our free helpline
  • How to use MyComputerMyWay
  • The range of free factsheets we provide

We ran a free Webinar on 1 July 2014 for anyone who advises disabled people, including Disability Advisers, charities that work with disabled people and staff and volunteers or others who support disabled people. The session is delivered by Alex Barker and Mark Walker from AbilityNet, a UK charity that provides free computer help to disabled people.

View the slideshow on Slideshare.

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There are no captions on this video but there is a FULL TRANSCRIPT of this video available below.


Transcript from Adjust Your Computer. Change Your Life. Free AbilityNet webinar 1 July 2014


I am the marketing manager for AbilityNet. In a second I will introduce you to Alex. What we are going to cover today is some examples of common adjustments you can make to computers. Lots of devices have adjustments built into them. Many people don't know just how broad that range is. The first thing to do is to tell you how broad it is, and say, "Did you know you can do this?"

We have three examples. We have dyslexia. There are common examples of what we often are helping people with. That will potentially also raise questions for you. Today is as much about your questions as those examples. We will provide you with some useful links. If we haven't answered your question as we go along, we will have questions at the end. You have 30 minutes of prepared show-and-tell, if you like. Then we have as long as we need for questions at the end. We expect this sort of session to take around 45 minutes.

Hi, Alex, I know you are there. I hope you are there!


I am.


We have a picture of Alex. What were you doing there, paragliding?




Can you introduce yourself?


By the way, Mark, I can't see your presentation. I can only see the cover page. Yes, cool, great.

My name is Alex. I am 42. I'm the Advice and Information Officer for AbilityNet. I have been here 11 years. I love my job. As a slightly disabled person, I have got a real empathy in trying to make sure that everyone has the best technology. I know how it is to be at school and be told to do write notes and be unable to.

Put me in front of a computer and I can do whatever I want to do. I have got a degree, an HND, and other qualifications. Using a computer is so important.


I have got a couple of comments for the questions. Then we will move on to the content. You should be in listen-only mode. If you go to ask a question at the end, we may switch to voice. Normally we ask you to do that through the chat box.

It says there is a echo. I hope that is because Alex and I are speaking at the same time. I hope it will go away when we speak now. For the person who said there was an echo, if you could let me know in a few minutes if it's still a problem, we might have to try something different. If anybody else has an issue, let me know.

I work across AbilityNet's services. We provide services to disabled people, including a free helpline. We also have home visits. We can send out volunteers from our network to provide support at home. They can do support in-house. We also have a lot of fact sheets. We are also going to talk about My Computer, My Way, which is one of our primary resources.

So, today, what we are going to cover some common questions from our helpline. Alex, I will bring you back in in a second. Alex staffs the helpline. It's one of a number of services that we offer to disabled people. It is directly to disabled people themselves, but we also take calls from charities, family and friends, and so on, just asking for help around using computers. We are unique in the sense of a disability charity in that we cover every disability. Most charities have a particular disability they specialise in. We cover all disabilities, and all mainstream technologies. So, Windows, Mac, iPad, iPod, we can offer advice. We also have expertise in specialist hardware people can use.

Lots of people use assistive technology for a particular reason. Alex is really at the forefront of answering questions on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully he will be able to answer your questions and give you advice about the sort of common changes and adjustments we make.

If you want to ask anything as we go along, please do ask, particularly if you don't understand what we have said. I will round up any general questions at the end. Please just use the chat box.

Alex, I am just going to hand over to you. Could I get you to tell me a bit about your role and the sort of questions people are asking you, the sort of numbers of people coming to us every day?


I know it is a cliche, but every call is different. This morning, I had a couple of IT help requests, a call from somebody who has dyslexia, and a call from somebody who has got motor neurone disease. I would say that, throughout the week, you tend to get a few calls on a particular subject, especially if it has been featured in the press, on TV or radio.

It is great because you never know what you are going to get.


Thank you. And in terms of your own network of support, where do you go when you are stuck? Who gives you help when you need some particular technical or expert input?


I tend to talk to a lot of suppliers of equipment and say, "I have got a client who needs a particular piece of equipment. I am not sure what is available. Can you go out and can you assist them?" By and by, they are very helpful. They know that we have got to help them. I would say that we are not always the best people to talk to, but by years of experience, you get a good idea of who to signpost people towards.

My colleague took a phone call this morning from a person I speak to on a regular basis. She has got issues that we are not really the best people to talk to. But we are quite happy to signpost her to organisations that are more able to deal with enquiries.

I think we are very clear on what we are and we are also very clear on what we are not, or what we don't do.


Thank you. We have got a couple of screens here just to show people two resources we are going to talk a lot about today.

This is My Computer, My Way. You can find it at mycomputermyway.com. It is a stand-alone website integrated into our website. It is actually stand-alone in the sense that the information is whole and managed separately. It covers four main headings there - vision, motor, hearing and cognitive disabilities. It is a practical guide across all devices.

It is maintained by our team internally and we present it through this system. We will go clicking through this in a little while. It is available free on our site. It is commercially available as well. We have just sold it to Barclays, who have integrated it with their site to offer it to customers. One of the ways that we generate income is to sell it, for example as a Barclays service.

It is an important tool for us and it contains a huge amount of information. We maintain it whenever a new system is brought out.

Alex, the other one I know you spend a lot of time looking at is the fact sheets. Can you tell us about them and the range of information in them?


Sure. We have got about 35 fact sheets on a range of different topics. As you can see, we have got autism and computers, communication aids, right through to visual impairment and tablet computers. Normally, the fact sheets are 3-4 pages long. I wonder if Mark can scroll down?

We have got useful ones like learning difficulties and computers. We have also got a fact sheet called funding for an adapted computer. That is one of the issues we get a lot of the time.

Another one is dyslexia and computing. Basically, that gives you an overall summary of what technology is about.

[Sarah.Captioner is Live]

So, for example, if you wanted to know about homophone checking, words that sound similar but are spelt differently, it can help you.

If there is anything you don't understand on the fact sheets or you need clarification on, there is always someone, Monday to Friday, nine to five, on the end of the line who can help you out. We're quite happy to talk to you.


Thank you, Alex. Let's go back to the presentation. I will jump into the website from time to time. I'm going to pick three topics today. I'm going to start with dyslexia and this rather mixed bunch of people that you have suggested we put up on here. Can you tell us a bit about the type of course you get about dyslexia and why we have this range of people up on the screen?


The reason why we have all these people on the screen is because a lot of people say, "You have got dyslexia, you must be stupid." You're not going to tell me that Richard Branson is stupid or Steve jobs was, or Churchill or Einstein or Tom Cruise. Odd, yes, but not stupid!

The point I am trying to make is that with the right support, you can go on and achieve. What I would say is that part of what we do as an organisation is to empower people to actually go out there and get done what they need to get done. Computer technology can actually make the playing field a lot more level. It can actually mean that you don't have to do all of the work that makes you tired. You can actually get the computer to do some of your work for you. I think that is really, really important.


And what proportion of people, in terms of your dealings on the helpline, are asking for help with dyslexia?


I would say over 50%. What is interesting, Mark, is that some people might say to me, "I have got real difficulties reading and writing. I haven't been tested as having dyslexia, I just find it really hard to read and write and organise my thoughts and sequence information."

I am certainly not medically qualified, but those are traits of having dyslexia. Even though they aren't identifying themselves as being dyslexic, I get the impression that they certainly are but haven't got a label.


In other areas, I know we do a lot of work in the workplace, working with employers to provide support to employees with disabilities. When we are talking to employers about this, it is suggested about six million adults have some form of dyslexia. A large proportion of them will be in the workplace and to a large extent will be fully functioning and may not be identified as having a dyslexic-related need.

I think the estimate within that is that about 4 million people have some form of dyslexia that is severe enough to affect their day-to-day work. But whether or not they have adapted to it or are too embarrassed to talk about it because they think people will judge them. On the website, this particular page gets almost as many visits as the rest of the site put together.

Dyslexia stands out head and shoulders as an issue that people are looking for help with and they don't know how much a computer could be helping them.

Can you tell us a bit about the sort of help you recommend to people? Obviously it depends on their needs.


What I would say is that a lot of people ring us up and they might have been in jobs for 10 or 15 years and certainly their job has changed and they had to do a lot more writing than before. Suddenly, they think, "Oh, no, what do I do? I have got dyslexia, do I keep it secret or do I tell my boss?"

I always tell people to talk to their HR department and explain the situation, because dyslexia is covered, which means that your employer needs to make reasonable adjustments.

There are lots of things that you can do to feel the impact to make things a lot easier. We have picked three main issues where you can do what you need to do to make it easier to understand work. The first one is changing your screen layout.

Lots of dyslexic people like to see a particular colour on the screen. They might want to have yellow letters on a blue background or white letters on a black background.

It is also very useful to work on whatever the best font is. An Arial font, for a lot of people, is dyslexia friendly. Something like Times San Serif isn't that great for people with dyslexia.

You can change the foreground colour, you can change the background colour to whatever your requirements are. This screenshot is one that I did yesterday. I prepared it earlier. You can see, on Windows 7, you have got quite a lot of different colours. You can have a red background, a grey foreground text. It is dead easy to choose.


So those are the sorts of changes that people can make. In your experience, do people know about these options when you are offering them advice?


If only I had a pound coin for every time I talked to people about these settings. People say to me, "Wow, you can do that. I don't need to go and buy expensive software. This is dead easy, why didn't I know about this before?" It is a very difficult question to answer. You can make the changes that you need easily.


So the answer to how they could find this, in terms of My Computer, My Way, it contains clickable links.

You can change the colours on the computer. This is Windows 8. I am showing some screen grabs of Windows 8. They take you to the same place as you were looking at.

Using My Computer, My Way, you can follow through the stages to find the right menu settings and then you can experiment yourself. I will just show you again how easy that was. I am on the front page of My Computer, My Way. One of the options is changing your colours. I want to change the colours on my computer. Therefore I click through and click through and I find Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Between versions, the principle will probably stay the same, it is just that the menu may change its name or there might be a significant shift in how you actually access the menus, but when you get there, they are the same.

That gives you an example of how you can use My Computer, My Way. Also, not to forget, the dyslexia and computing fact sheet, which is a primary resource for us.

Alex, you have an example here. Could you talk us through what happens when somebody calls with dyslexia.


We have had a call from John. He might be at university or school and he has got dyslexia. He finds certain text sizes and styles and fonts difficult to read. Times New Roman isn't that great for him. He offers what he can do to make those changes so that he can get a Helvetica font so that he can read the text in a lot more confident way.

He doesn't need any access technology, he just needs that little bit of help. We lead him towards the My Computer, My Way website. It gives him nice, easy step-by-step instructions on how to change the fonts. John is well happy, because he can read the text and do social networking or whatever he needs to do in a much more relaxed way.

Of course, you can also change your font colour or your background colour. Again, My Computer, My Way will show you how to do it.

Just a couple of useful resources. One of the things we find is that there is quite a lot of emotional baggage associated with people who have dyslexia. In fact, I was speaking to someone who was in his 50s and for all of his life had been told he was stupid and good for nothing and he ended up having a dyslexia test. Now that is empowering, because he knows he has dyslexia. He knows he has certain ways of thinking about it and he knows he is not stupid.

We don't get involved in any testing or counselling, but people like Dyslexia Action or the Dyslexia Association, it is worthwhile contacting them. If you are at school, or you are a mum and dad, and your child has dyslexia at school, it is worthwhile talking to the Parent Partnership team as well. They can advise you on the system at school.


Thank you, Alex. Just to emphasise that the sort of signposting and other help we can offer, it depends on the sort of help people are asking for. We picked dyslexia because it is a very common issue, but also a lot of people call not necessarily knowing what is causing the problems they are having with reading. We don't start with the dyslexia, we start with the fact that they are not seeing the screen very well. That might lead them onto getting specialist help of some kind from somewhere else.

Another example along the same lines, changing the text size. There are a number of reasons why you might want to change the text size. Alex, you have got an example. Tell us about the sorts of people where you mentioned text size. Particular conditions or needs that come up.

[Martin.Captioner is Live]



Everybody has got an auntie who hasn't got a disability but who can't see a screen as well as she once could. "I can order my food online but I am having difficulty doing that." You could say, OK, let's see what we can do to make the text a bit easier to see so you can still be independent.

What we can do is just with a few clicks you can show people how easy it is.


Great. You are going to give us some examples, I think, of changing the text size. I like the text you had here. When people are going to look at these, I think you provide a couple of tips on how to go about it before you start anything.


My top five tips…

Number five, don't be afraid to experiment with changing the text size. You can make it bigger or smaller. As long as you do it in steps, you ought to be able to do that. If it is too small, enlarge it. If it is too big, reduce it. Make a decision – do you want to decide whether you want to make universal settings or change the settings in particular pieces of software?

Do them one by one. Don't make wholesale changes, because it will make it a lot harder to go back. If you do one change and you don't like it, you can always step back. If you make 10 changes, you have got to undo all of those changes.


Okey-dokey. I'm going to switch back to My Computer, My Way. This is an example of something coming at it from the angle of the practical change you are trying to do. Here is making text larger. You could make it large on your mobile. This is interesting when you are trying to read your text messages. I wear glasses that have come on with age. I have my magnification turned up on my text messages so I can read my messages more easily if I am out and about. But the number of times a friend has started laughing and realised they need to do the same thing as well…

And on your mobile, I have got an Android phone, and even on the two versions it was installed differently. This is a good example of something that is very current, very up-to-date information. This has been updated for the latest version of Android. On your phone, you should be able to pick up your phone and read your text or your incoming email, whatever it is. This is where you can change the settings.

Equally, you can see there are lots of examples here for other phones and other systems. If you go back a step, you can see it's also possible to change them in Office. If you only want it in a particular program, it will give you tips about where the settings are. They will be particular to the program.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what is inside My Computer, My Way. Part of solving that problem is working out where you would do it, what is the most appropriate change to make.

Finally, Alex, this is something I think you offer advice around for a whole number of different conditions. You have got a thing about slowing down the keyboard. We have picked Parkinson's because it was something we did a whole series of resources on. Presumably there are lots of reasons why people might want to slow down the keyboard.


Yes, you may have Parkinson's or you might be elderly. You wouldn't say that you had a condition but you are just not as good on a keyboard as you once were. One of the reasons we picked Parkinson's as a topic was that we must get eight or nine calls a week from people that have got tremors related to Parkinson's or MS. For those sorts of people, it is really difficult to control the computer and they want to know what they can do to make things a bit better.

My dad has had Parkinson's for a couple of years. Most of the time he is OK, but I told him it was possible for him actually to get some support trying to change the way the keyboard works. He was quite happy about that.

So there are lots of things that you can actually do to make things a little bit easier for you. It is worthwhile looking at various things you are able to do. If Mark can click on the keyboard and mouse, I can work you through.

Here we have got… Mark, can you mute yourself? All I can hear is my echo.

Brilliant, thank you.

Here we have got the keyboard settings. Let's just have a look at that.


Really, we cover all major sorts of computers. So, Windows 8.1 is the new version of Windows. Windows XP is the older version of Windows. We have got Vista and we have got also Apple OS as well. It is all about you regaining that bit of independence when using a keyboard.

As you can see here, you have gone into Apple OS X. I think Mark is looking at the Mac. Basically it is the same idea. You change the repeat speed down. What you can actually do, you can actually change it on your keyboard.


Alex, are you there?




That is those examples. Sorry, I will un-mute you. We have also got an example here of what you can do in the window. I will mute myself.


Basically, what I wanted to tell you was the on-screen keyboard is actually really, really useful for those people who actually can't use a standard keyboard and actually need a bit of support trying to get words down.

This is the Windows 7 on-screen keyboard. Basically, the situation is that you can do word prediction. At the top you have got "democracy", "demonstrate", and it is just like using word prediction on your mobile phone. This is free and built into Windows.



Thank you, Alex. We have been through a number of different headings. We have got dyslexia, changing the speed of the keyboard, changing the text size, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully you are beginning to realise that depending on what the person is trying to do and who you are trying to help, or if you yourself are trying to work out your options, you may need to try a couple of things. As Alex said about changing the keyboard settings and size, doone at a time. Don't just jump in the deep end with everything at once. Often you will find yourself unable to get back to where you came from without restarting the computer.

But there may be a number of adjustments that could help you, depending on what you are trying to do. Hopefully either My Computer, My Way or the fact sheets could be useful. Also there is the Dyslexia Association.

You may also find you can step on from there into more detailed information later.

So, final thing, then, is to see if you have any questions. We are interested in helping people to adjust your computer. You are welcome to ask us any questions about adjustments you think might be relevant and how they can be made, or it may be that you just want to know more some information about what we have covered and just to reiterate some of the advice we've covered. Any other questions you have, we will answer here.

The first one I have got, Alex, is how commonly, how many people ring in around visual impairment and what is the typical advice you offer for people with some kind of visual impairment other than adjusting the text size? Are there any other tips you offer?


In terms of visual impairment, it is a massive area. You might get someone who wants to magnify the text. You also might want to also make text smaller or bigger. You might want to magnify the text or you might want to resize the window. All of those things that you can do make it easier to actually use the computer and regain your independence. It is not about spending lots of money.

For example, we have got "Making the mouse pointer easier to see." We have got, "Making your device smarter". Everything is built into Windows.

[Sarah.Captioner is Live]

As you can see here, they've got things on Apple, Snow Leopard, making your computer talk. He has got a thing about making your computer talk. Windows 7 comes with a package called Narrator. It is not that great, but it is a screen reader.

Mark, can we go back and have a look at making your mouse pointer bigger?

Click on "Adding trails to your mouse pointer". For example, this is a really, really useful thing to be able to do. So you have got mouse tails. When your mouse zooms off, it is a little easier to see.

It doesn't cost you anything and it is dead easy to do. A three- or four-minute job. That is the sort of thing that might sort you out.


Thanks, Alex. The other thing I would mention from the point of view of visual impairment, particularly from the point of view of experience with our colleagues, we have somebody in our team who is completely blind and he talks to his phone and his phone talks back to him. He uses that much more than he uses his desktop computer. The changes in technology relating to any particular impairment may be quite dramatic over versions of software.

When the new iPhone came out, he jumped onto that, because it had a whole load of features. Each progressive one, Siri came along. That meant he didn't have to browse the internet. I hadn't thought of that being what we would use Siri for. If Siri brings back the wrong answer, he just asks a different question.

Those sorts of systems that are coming along now will become more intelligent and provide us with information in a new way. Those systems will have an impact on the way that people use computers. Whether it is phone or our iPad, or tablet or desktop computers.

A couple of questions. Do the fact sheets cover mobile phones?

They largely do. It might not be completely up-to-date with the latest systems. But we do consider the mobile phone to be something that we help with. We have a whole range of information about Windows phones, Android and iOS seven and eight. That certainly covers voice-over and talkback and the associated systems.

Somebody in Scotland is asking whether we offer home support to clients in Scotland. Yes, we do. We have a network of volunteers. I'll have to show you where that is on my website. We have a service called IT Can Help that covers home support.

There is a way of contacting us in here. Use the request form and someone will get back to you. It does depend on where the volunteers are in terms of how close we can get to your home, but we might well be to do something remotely, over the telephone or using remote software if that is what is appropriate.

Another question. Does Windows have any voice operated software built in, similar to Dragon? It does, but it is not as good as Dragon.

It is Narrator. It is not the same, it talks back to you, but it does have some parallel with being able to talk into it as well. It doesn't understand voice commands, but I don't think it does speech to text in quite such a sophisticated way. But we do know Dragon is available for free on mobile phones. I don't know if it is available for free elsewhere.

Somebody has just confirmed that Siri was very helpful for somebody with dyslexia for similar reasons.

I have got a couple of questions that I will give to Alex. One of them is, do we have any fact sheets on output to braille? I don't think we do.

The other one, Alex, is if you can confirm how Windows does voice activation.


Just a couple of things. What I would say is that I have an Android phone and I have the Android equivalent of Siri. It is called Evi. Evi is quite good, but it does have its limitations. If you ask where the nearest hospital is to here, it tells you that the nearest hospital is a mile and a half away, but actually it is a hospital that you can visit because it is a nice old building. If you are having a heart attack, the last thing you want to do is wandering around looking at the nice, old building. You need the accident and emergency department.

What I would say is that artificial intelligence is great, but you should not rely on it, because sometimes it doesn't give you the right information.

As far as talking to Windows goes, I wonder if, Mark, you can go up to the top or My Computer, My Way and go into motor, then scroll down. Say "Talk into your device".

Narrator is basically a screen reader. It is good, but it is limited. There is really, really useful speech recognition built into Windows, which is almost as good as Dragon. It is amazing how many people don't know about this. For somebody with dyslexia, I would always say, "Go and look at Windows voice recognition." We have got people who can come out and give instructions.

Onto fact sheets. We don't do fact sheets on specific products. We try to steer people away from JAWS. Not that it is a bad package, far from it. But it stands for "Job access without sight". It is really designed for people who are in work. The majority of people using a screen reader at home, JAWS isn't going to be the package for them.

JAWS is like the equivalent of passing your driving test and your first car is a Ferrari or Bugatti. Basically, the point is that JAWS is at the high end of the spectrum.

Mark is showing you the voice recognition fact sheet. It is quite a big area and we try to cut it down into little, bite-sized chunks. Once again, if you have got difficulties getting to grips with the languages, just call us and we can help.


Thanks, Alex. The other point to make is that if this is the sort of question you have got… Jessica was asking if you have a fact sheet about using JAWS for braille, as I need to support a student. That is exactly the kind of thing we can help with. Jessica, give Alex a call. I know that Alex speaks to people a lot who come back for further advice.

Software changes, systems changes, but also the people change, preferences change, they move from one piece of software to another, because they don't like how it works or their needs change. We are very happy to continually offer advice and support for anybody working with disabled people, not just disabled people themselves.

We can pass you on the other support if necessary. That brings us to a close. Thank you very much for joining us today. If you do need to speak to Alex, he is set in the first place I would suggest you turn to, give him a call during office hours. The fact sheets are available on our website. You can access My Computer, My Way at mycomputermyway.com. All of these slides are available on SlideShare. You can follow us on Twitter and we also use Facebook to share news and information, particularly around disability and connecting with other disability causes. Please do get in touch with us there as well and keep up-to-date with information.

We run webinars like this all the time. We send information through email and newsletters and you can sign up. A huge thank you to Alex. Just so you know, Alex, I can see there are several big thank yous and comments saying, "Fabulous." Congratulations, Alex. I thought that was really interesting. To everybody else, thank you very much for joining us. Look out for recording and the other information to follow on. Thank you.









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