Windows 10 Creator Edition…WOW!

October 24, 2017

AER Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) Division
VRT News – Fall, 2017 

Windows 10 Creator Edition…WOW!

Steve Kelley CVRT, CRC, CATIS

“I want to learn how to use the computer, for Facebook and email. What should I buy?” As rehabilitation professionals, we are fortunate to get this question, because all too often, we hear, “I gave up using the computer, I can’t see the screen anymore.” 

Often our client has heard from a well-meaning child or grandchild, “Get a (tablet)(smartphone)(iPad)(Mac)[fill in the blank], there so intuitive…” Sure they are, if you’re under the age of 18. For the rest of us, there’s a learning curve, and for users who are new to computers with a recent vision loss, this can be more challenging. 

I’m always on the lookout for that device that will provide a simplified user interface, built in magnifier and speech, offer tech support that includes the magnifier and speech features, and is reasonably priced. Is it asking too much to have an all-in-one computer with a 24 inch touch screen monitor and large print keyboard, with a copy of Dolphin Guide (https://yourdolphin.com/product?id=5) installed that costs $600…don’t forget the 24/7 tech support! 

A client applied for an agency-sponsored grant and purchased a WOW Computer (https://www.mywowcomputer.com/), because it is a system marketed for seniors, claiming to have all the criteria listed above, ease of use, magnification and speech, and customer support. I loved the idea of it and was hoping this was the Holy Grail! What was ingenious was that when the computer came on, a video opened automatically to offer a detailed description of how to get connected to the internet, in step by step detail. Once the desktop appeared it became evident that the many buttons and icons on the screen had slightly larger print and high contrast, but nothing that couldn’t be emulated in Windows 10 with a few changes in the settings. 

The magnifier had opened in a separate window, much like what was available on Windows XP, magnifying whatever you dragged it over with the mouse. There was only one default magnification setting, so if this wasn’t strong enough…well, grab a family member. 

Tech support was available at no charge, but of users wanted to use the dictation feature, they needed to pay for a premium service. 

I lost my interest when I realized the magnifier had only one setting and didn’t include the full screen. I didn’t think the price was that great a deal at $1099, either. 

As I was shutting it down and wrapping it back up, I thought it might be a perfect computer for someone with a slight vision loss, who like having a button that read “Weather,” or “News,” on the desktop. Really, for someone who needed more magnification, the Windows magnifier, built in, that emerges when you press the Windows key and the + key is a much better alternative, offering full screen and lens options, high contrast, and significantly more magnification than the WOW magnifier. 

Of course, the latest version of Windows 10 Creator has significant improvements to Narrator—one of the best, the fact that it can be started by holding down the Windows Key Control Key + Enter key, right at start up, so text to speech is available right out of the box! The WOW computer mentioned that it had text to speech, but to be honest, after looking at the magn9ifier, I didn’t bother turning it on. 

There was the built in tech support the WOW computer had that is always appealing, especially with new users who may need extra support. The day before, I’d called the Microsoft Disability Support number at 1-800-936-5900 with a client. There was no hold time, the support person logged into her computer and fixed the problem within 45 minutes. He was friendly, easy to understand and patient. Could WOW, or anyone for that matter, beat that? 

Hmmmm…Windows 10 with a usable Narrator screen reader, full screen magnifier, Microsoft phone support at no cost for users accessing the computer with assistive technology, WOW! 

While few would ever call the Windows operating system intuitive for a new computer user, Microsoft Windows 10 Creator Edition, right off the shelf, may just be one of the best ways to get started using the computer with a vision impairment. If you have low vision and are rusty with your typing, grab an EZSee large print keyboard or keyboard stickers from DataCal (https://www.datacal.com) to complete the package! 

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