Accessible personal computers

Using a personal computer requires mainly visual cues. But in Mac and Windows operating systems, aural cues – “alert sounds” – are a key component as well.

Fortunately, both Windows and Mac OS operating systems have visual alerts designed to make themselves more more convenient for hearing impaired users.

In Microsoft Windows, this can be accomplished by selecting the CONTROL PANEL, then ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS. Then select the SOUND tab, and under that tab, check the box that says “USE SOUNDSENTRY.” You will then be able to select a “visual warning.” Under the CHOOSE VISUAL WARNING list, you can select “Flash Active Caption Bar,” “Flash Active Window,” or “Flash Desktop.”

In the Mac operating system, open SYSTEM PREFERENCES (click the icon or select it under the Apple icon in the top left corner), then click the UNIVERSAL ACCESS icon. Click the HEARING tab and then check the boxes that say “FLASH THE SCREEN WHEN AN ALERT SOUND OCCURS” and “ENABLE ACCESS FOR ASSISTIVE DEVICES.” Next, click the SHOW ALL button to go back to SYSTEM PREFERENCES. Click the SOUND icon and push the sliders for ALERT VOLUME and OUTPUT VOLUME all the way to the right.


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