Low Vision Computing

Basic Concepts

Instead of using a laptop with a screen magnifier to make a small portion of a laptop screen bigger, just make the screen 4x-6x bigger.

This is obvious in retrospect, but none of the service organizations that are supposed to help people with low vision have implemented this obvious solution.

This is the first real innovation for low vision computer users in at least a generation. If you are using a screen magnifier, you can ditch it.

Read more: Basic Concepts

Standalone Smart TV

Using a big screen smart TV with a built-in web browser and support for downloadable apps mean that if you can do everything you need to do on the web (with your data stored "in the cloud"), you can get online without a computer.

As a bonus, you can still use it as a big screen TV, not just a "net appliance."

But there are a few "gotchas"

Read more: Standalone Smart TV

1 Screen Setup

This section describes the basic setup most people will use, with a computer, big screen smart TV, mouse, keyboard, and webcam.

Most people will either buy a pre-made computer or have one built for them with the required specifications, or if they have a recent-enough computer, just use what they have.

Read more: 1 Screen Setup

2 Screen Setup

Many businesses provide their employees with dual-screen setups to increase productivity and reduce errors.

With low vision, to get the same benefits, you will need at least 2 big screen 4k smart TVs.

You also need to take into consideration how they're physically set up to get the most out of them.

This will depend on factors such as the types of tasks you do, available space, the physical size of the screens, and your personal preferences.

Read more: 2 Screen Setup

3 Screen Setup

After a while using 1 or 2 screens, you might decide to opt for a 3rd screen.

Three big screens gives a great workflow for people with low vision.

Ideal for work-from-home situations, such a setup lets you be at least equal to, if not better than, most people with one or two traditional monitors.

3 screens may seem exaggerated or an unnessary luxury, but once you try it you probably will never want to go back. Even people with normal vision will come away impressed with the greater workflow.

Read more: 3 Screen Setup

4 Screens And 2 Users

The use of 4 screens laid out with 2 in a row across the front of the workspace, and two more, angled on each side, and the addition of a second keyboard and mouse, allows two people to work collaboratively on projects using the same computer.

This is effective regardless of vision status.

Read more: 4 Screens And 2 Users

100 Inch Video Wall

The inspiration for the 100" video wall was the need to be able to answer the question of just what are the usability limits to screen sizes - is it 50", 65", 75" 82", or even 100"?

Plus, 4 screens laid out horizontally takes up a LOT of space.

One solution is to "go vertical." A video wall of 4 screens in a 2x2 grid maintains the functionality of the previous 4-screen layout, just that the side screens are replaced by the top row of screens.

Read more: 100 Inch Video Wall

10 Foot Main View

Further reduced visual acuity made me decide to swap the 100" video wall + 2 x 65" side screens (one on each side) for 2 x 65" 4k center screens (for a 10' or 120" main display) and 2 4k x 4.3k side towers.

The increased display size of the center screens means I didn't have to further increase font size to keep readability.

It also allows me to continue splitting windows into two on each physical screeen (Windows+Left or Windows+Right key) to help avoid overlapping windows and ensuing clutter.

Read more: 10 Foot Main View

Operating System

The choice of an operating system is governed by several considerations, among them being:

     1. what the user is used to;
     2. the associated hardware costs;
     3. available application software;
     4. future expandability.

For most users, that means Microsoft Windows.

Read more: Operating System

Workplace Accommodations

Low-vision workers, whether current or prospective employees, have the legal right to reasonable accommodations in the workspace.

With the ongoing labour shortage, only the most short-sighted employer won't consider equiping a worker with a big screen 4k TV to accommodate visual handicaps when it costs less than 25 cents a day over the lifespan of a big screen TV.

Read more: Workplace Accommodations

Work From Home

Work from home is here to stay. No matter how hard employers, office tower landlords, nearby businesses, and the mayors of cities with hollowed-out downtown cores want it to go away, the environmental crisis isn't going away, making it imperative that anyone who can work from home, either part-time or full-time, do so.

And with the perma-shortage of workers, one way to attract and keep workers is to offer more flexibility via work-from-home.

This trend has advantages for low vision users, since many cannot legally drive a vehicle.

Remember: Work from home jobs are green jobs.

Read more: Work From Home

Add A Web Server

Plenty of people are doing web development.

It's handy to be able to run your own web server locally to test files before you uploat them to the public web server.

This is one job that people with low vision are able to do from home, helping support both themselves and the "Green Economy".

Read more: Add A Web Server

Audio Screen Reader

That graphic to the right is a magnified section of the toolbar from Microsoft's Edge browser.

The letter "A" on the left toggles the built-in screen reader on and off.

Unlike "JAWS" (Job Access With Speech - $1,545, upgrades are not free) or "NVDA" (Non Visual Desktop Access - free), which both have a frustrating learning curve, the screen reader in Microsoft Edge is free, quick, and easy to use.

Read more: Audio Screen Reader

Touch Typing

The "F" and "J" keys (circled in the graphic to the right) have tiny raised nubs that let you feel your finger's location on the keyboard.

The "5" key on the number pad also has a raised nub.

Touch typing is better than the "HP" (Hunt and Peck) method, and it's not that hard to learn.

Anyone wanting to work from home would do well to add touch typing to their skill set. In the long run, being able to took at the screen as you type will reduce typos.

Read more: Touch Typing


The computer gaming industry generates more revenue than Hollywood, and has been doing so for two decades.

But "gaming" is not all about quick reactions and killing.

You might not be able to drive a car, but you can still go on a sight-seeing virtual flight - and bring your friends along for free.

Read more: Gaming

Proper Lighting

As you vision deteriorates, the importance of light that is both bright enough and of the right frequency becomes more imporant.

Unfortunately, many people don't understand the implications of decreased light sensitivity to light in the longer (red) wavelenghts, and use "indoor" lighting instead of "daylight" lighting.

Read more: Proper Lighting

Train Your Guide Dog

Training your own guide dog is something people have been doing for at least 2,000 years - long before there were any of today's "special breeds".

All it requires is a good-natured dog that's eager to please (the shelters are full of such dogs) and some patience and trust.

... and an ordinary leash ...

Or just search youtube for a stray Jack Russell guiding a stray blind dog through New York traffic. If dogs can naturally guide each other, they are a natural fit for helping humans.

Read more: Train Your Guide Dog

Add A Tablet

That's a 10" Amazon Fire tablet on the right. $200* gets you one when they aren't on sale for $150.

It's a lot easier reading news articles and web sites on a 10" tablet than on the biggest smartphone.

The browser bookmarking system works better than the one on the iPhone, the email program is far better,, and you can add up to a 1 terabyte mini sd flash card for additional storage.

And that's not all ...

(* Prices in Canadian Dollars)

Read more: Add A Tablet

Add A Scanner

You can stick with a screen magnifier, or you can get a Canon LiDE scanner for $100 that will let you quickly scan and save pages, letters, and other documents.

You can blow them up on-screen, highlight sections with a graphic program, then email them to others for comment.

There are other uses as well.

Read more: Add A Scanner

In The Public Domain

People have patented all sorts of stuff, including the "comb-over" to hide bald spots.

It's true, the patent system is so broken that you can patent almost anything.

I've placed my research into the public domain so that nobody (not even me) can try to extract fees from users.

The costs of license fees for many products reduces adoption by those who need it most and can least afford it. Some things just shouldn't be patented.

Read more: In The Public Domain

Why lowvisioncomputing.com

Primary care doctors and the people working with them continue to make amazing advances in saving people's vision.

Secondary care technology for people with low vision is still stuck in the 80s.

And then there's the wait times ... when it's so much quicker to go to the retailer of your choice, get the necessary equipment, and be online the next day.

I tried screen magnifiers. They're outdated crap. Even "That 70's Show" is now updated to "That 90's Show."

No license fees, no patents.

Read more: Why lowvisioncomputing.com

Linux Migration

Microsoft is continually trying to force people to their cloud offerings, so as to both lock in users and extract more $$$.

For me, the final straw was Microsoft "urging" me to move my simple email program into a web-based derivative of Microsoft 365, which I had already tried and given up on.

Most day-to-day users shouldn't have too many problems migrating. And the money saved is a gift that keeps on giving.

Read more: Linux Migration

Copyright © 2022, 2023 by Barbra Hudson.
Email: barbra@lowvisioncomputing.com

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