How good is your vision … and how long can you count on it to stay that way?

I’m very grateful to be living at a time when Universal Accessibility is making such a positive difference in our world.

Here’s just one example of a change that could make a difference in our lives – and be a very welcome difference for those of us who, either suddenly or gradually, find ourselves dealing with vision issues.

Look at the keyboard of your computer or laptop. If the letter on each key fills only about a quarter of the key (usually in the upper left-hand corner), then you’re looking at a “standard” keyboard. If the letter fills most of the available space on the key, then you’re looking at a large print keyboard. Would it be difficult for a person with good vision to use either keyboard? I haven’t yet found a reason to believe that it would. So why not insist that large print keyboards become the standard, relegating today’s “standard” keyboards to the current position of large print keyboards?

Right now, there are two ways for consumers to acquire so-called large print keyboards. One usually results in sending the consumer’s original standard keyboard to a landfill, and the other – a kind of hybrid – always requires the help of a person with good vision and a steady hand.

lpKeyboardAndOverlays

Sticker-like “keyboard overlays” are available from a variety of suppliers, come in a variety of color choices and can be purchased in a Braille version. Large print overlays can be especially useful on a laptop keyboard.

There are many sources of large print keyboards, and they usually offer a variety of styles so that the consumer can pick whatever will or might work best for that individual’s needs. For just one example, visit MaxiAids and notice the options of yellow letters on black keys, black letters on gray keys, black letters on yellow keys, etc. Did you also notice the price of those keyboards? The price isn’t unreasonable when compared with the value of enhancing one’s vision, but the logic of purchasing two keyboards (one of which may soon go to a landfill) just because the manufacturer and/or retailer didn’t at least give you a large print option undercuts the value of Universal Design.

An alternative option is to use large print overlays to modify your standard keyboard. While there are probably as many sources of those overlays as of large print keyboards, I’ll use Hooleon as my example this time and point out that, again, the consumer can choose from several vendors as well as various styles and color combinations. Again, too, the cost is probably more than whatever you were expecting. And, since centering those letters on existing keys without getting them at an angle can be a real challenge, this is the option that always requires the help of a person with good vision and a steady hand. Tip: Remove the background from the sheet of key overlays first will greatly facilitate lifting each key “sticker” from that sheet.

What does all of this have to do with public libraries? I touched on that in a previous post, but I’ll explain more in a future post.

About

dona is a consultant for public libraries. She blogs at ElephantInTheLibrary.com

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