Do you find yourself avoiding using technology because either your vision isn’t perfect or your eyes are fatigued at the end of the day? Do you think you’d be more likely to benefit from apps like FaceTime, Skype and text messages if you could see their buttons in a larger and/or clearer display?

Do smartphones and tablets annoy you simply because you squint too much? There are many ways to adjust display size and contrast and you don’t need to visit your optician for a new prescription to take advantage of them.

I’m definitely not a vision expert, nor do I wear glasses or contacts, but I do find looking at my phone or computer screen requires different focus than everyday vision as I go about my day. It also changes as I grow tired after a long day.

 
 

If you find you’re in the same boat, there are several ways to adjust display size and colour settings with different technologies.

Know Your Options

Remember that whatever device you’re using, is indeed yours, and the settings should be adjusted to your needs. With mobile technology being more popular than the traditional office and desktop set ups, being able to adjust settings to different lighting and atmospheres is increasingly important.

The way you stare at your screen, phone or other device in the early morning hours, in a well-lit home office with natural sunlight, will surely require an adjustment when you find yourself in a dentist waiting room with fluorescent lighting and minimal windows.

Most smartphones make it quick and simple to adjust the volume, some without even having the screen on, but lighting and font size aren’t as simple.

Knowing the options are available is the important first step. I encourage everyone to explore the settings on their smartphones and adjust things like magnifiers, button shapes and larger text.

What’s more, well-designed apps and websites should/will make it easy to adjust features like backlight settings, colour contrast and font size.

Device Sharing

Increasing the font seems to be the most important adjustment among the seniors in my family. It isn’t unusual for us to simply hand-off our device to family members to read or compose a message.

If adjusting the settings on your device isn’t the way you choose to make technology more accessible, you can also use Google, or other search engines, to easily pull up the instructions for you.

Simply search for the browser type you’re using and add increase font. Here are the links for Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Depending on your daily habits, exposure to backlit screens can have a deteriorating effect on your eyes. And with today’s societal norms, it seems we can’t escape screens. They’re in restaurants, airports, cars, medical waiting rooms and our pockets.

Understanding the best options does take some time and effort. I’ve noticed that some seniors I know don’t prioritize these tasks, yet they can avoid worsening eye strain and even discover more comfortable ways of using their devices with simple setting adjustments.

The world of technology accessibility is quite vast and accommodating. For individuals with greater vision problems than the above-mentioned fatigued eyes and common eyewear prescriptions, there are screen readers, dictation tools and virtual assistants (Alexa, Siri, Google Home) that can help people benefit from everyday technology.

As virtual assistants become more and more incorporated in our everyday tools, it’s important we keep in the know about our options so designers and developers can continue to create websites and apps that are compatible with such innovative tools.

Have you noticed your eyesight being impacted by increased screen usage? Do you reduce your time in front of a backlit screen intentionally? What is the worst screen time after-effect you have experienced? Please join the conversation below.

Jennifer SternJennifer Stern is a self-described “writer in geek’s clothing.” Drawing upon years of communications experience in the tech industry, she started a personal blog to address common concerns about technology and the internet, specifically for Canadian seniors. She believes seniors can benefit from embracing technology and the convenience it offers. Read her blog at www.digitalseniors.ca

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