Screen Magnification Technologies: Hardware Video
Narrator: Computer users with low vision often have difficulty reading text efficiently on a standard computer monitor. Having to lean forward and view the computer at approximately three inches is both uncomfortable and inefficient. There are several technologies that may assist these individuals.
The first option to consider is a larger monitor. Shown here is a 17 inch, 19 inch, and a 21 inch monitor. Larger monitors provide a larger image to view, but for many individuals with low vision, the larger image only allows them to increase their viewing distance by an inch or two. Extremely large monitors, 25 inches and larger, display a larger image, but their size also increases the distance between the image and the user’s eye thus negating the benefit of the larger image. The other disadvantages of extremely large monitors are that they are heavy, expensive, and it’s often hard to find space for them on a crowded desktop.
Another option that often appears useful is an optical magnifier that fits over the front of the monitor. These magnifiers only provide about 1.25 times magnification. As can be seen here, this is a very small degree of magnification and is not adequate for most individuals with low vision.
One adaptation that can be found at many office supply stores is a flex-arm adjustable monitor stand. The user shown here has placed the monitor on a monitor stand with a flexible arm that allows the monitor to be positioned at a comfortable height for the user and then pulled forward to the desired viewing distance. A monitor stand of this nature allows the user to sit in a comfortable, ergonomically correct position and view the display at a distance close enough to read the text. In some cases a combination of a larger monitor and a flex-arm monitor stand will meet the user’s needs.
If these options don’t provide a large enough image for the user to view the computer screen efficiently the user will want to explore the use of screen magnification software, which we explore in another segment in this series.