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Displays

Ask Slashdot: What's Out There For Poor Vision? 197

hackwrench writes: I like to read on my computer, but when I resize text to be comfortably big, web pages and browsers handle it badly, and some applications don't offer an option to enlarge. Some applications even are bigger than the screen, which Windows doesn't handle well. Lastly, applications consist of bright backgrounds which feels like staring into a headlight. Windows' built in options like magnifier are awkward. What tools are there for Windows to increase text size, make things fit inside the screen, and substitute colors that windows use?
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Ask Slashdot: What's Out There For Poor Vision?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    In this day and age, large monitors are cheap, and you can even use a flatscreen TV as a monitor. Fix the problem with hardware, not software, and you won't have to rely on the OS or the application to support you.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @07:51AM (#50920849) Journal
      In the 'large monitor' vein, you can either go for one that just has enormous pixels(there are some 1366x768 and 1920x1080 panels that smear those pixels over a pretty enormous area) or, if other constraints demand it(in a laptop, say) shoot for something with a resolution that is an integer multiple of the one you actually want to use. Non-integer scaling can be done more or less tastefully; but simply doesn't have a 'correct' solution. Integer-multiple scaling is both easier and produces better results.

      Also, if you can, turn the brightness down. Monitor manufacturers love setting the backlight to 'suntan'; because it makes the colors look more vibrant, the ghastly reflective screen look actually usable, and allows them to print a more impressive contrast ratio on the box without technically lying. If you have enough control over your computing environment, you ideally want a matte display, with the backlight low enough that the apparent brightness of white areas on the screen is about the same as the whitespace in a book under comfortable reading conditions. You will need a decent screen to actually do this(the cheap seats turn the brightness up because it's the only way to keep darker colors from just becoming indistinguishable; but better panels are up to it). You also want to avoid having to deal with glare from other light sources on the screen, since that will force you to punch the brightness back up.
      • Other way around. Manufacturers make horrible glossy screens to increase apparent contrast and allow them to push the brightness to suntan since more brighterer = more betterer.

      • In the 'large monitor' vein, you can either go for one that just has enormous pixels(there are some 1366x768 and 1920x1080 panels that smear those pixels over a pretty enormous area) or, if other constraints demand it(in a laptop, say) shoot for something with a resolution that is an integer multiple of the one you actually want to use. Non-integer scaling can be done more or less tastefully; but simply doesn't have a 'correct' solution. Integer-multiple scaling is both easier and produces better results.

        I agree with this for the large monitors as whether it's a 32" or a 64", it's still usually supports the standard 1366x768/1024x768 or something similar that most websites expect.

        For laptops, one option on linux would be a desktop that is larger than the physical screen size. You could set the physical screen resolution to 640x480 but then set the desktop size to 1024x768 or some other normal resolution. You would have to scroll side to side to see that whole screen but you would have a built in zoom no m

        • without "breaking" sites that expect resolutions larger than 1024x768.

          Sites that "expect" a particular screen size and can't adapt to other sizes are inherently broken and shouldn't be used.

    • If you are using a 19" 1080p display, perhaps you may want to use a 23", 25", or larger 1080p monitor. Likewise, if you are using 720p display. If you have a resolution on a bigger monitor, it will scale up nicely. If you have a laptop, I feel your pain. Might want to use an external monitor when possible.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        go straight to a 32" 1080P TV as it's cheaper than a 25" monitor

        • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @09:48AM (#50921653)

          go straight to a 32" 1080P TV as it's cheaper than a 25" monitor

          A lot of televisions will only correctly negotiate EDID on the active input, and won't activate an input other than the primary, without first having a signal.

          This tends to be a problem for laptops which are not persistent about negotiating EDID. This tends not to be a problem on Mac OS X, but in general, it's a problem for Windows, which is what the original poster said they had.

          Toshiba or Samsung laptops, in particular, have a hard time driving some Samsung televisions, Dell HD monitors, and LG televisions. Mostly these screens tend to not be multithreaded in their electronics, meaning that they won't negotiate the EDID on an inactive (unselected) input when the computer is coming up, and those laptops, and many desktops, aren't very persistent in their attempts to renegotiate until they get an answer.

          You're typically better off with a monitor than a television, if you plan to hook it up to a computer, even though there's a tendency towards higher expense compared to the televisions.

    • That was my solution. I've got a cataract on my left eye (which will be removed very soon, yay!) as well as strabismus and in general am very short sighted. In the end I just went out and bought a 28" monitor. Other solutions seem kludgy and rendering can be quite awful.

  • Why bring up U.S. foreign policy? Thanks! Don't confuse the tip jar with the spittoon.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Our CEO had poor vision. We replaced her with a very small shell script [slashdot.org].

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @07:39AM (#50920807)

    Optometrists. And "cheater" reading glasses.

    • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @10:49AM (#50922231) Homepage

      Mod parent up. I started to find my monitor blurry despite wearing strong corrective lenses when I was about 40 or 45. It's hard to say exactly when because I didn't really notice for a while. Reading glasses don't really help for this if you are nearsighted, because the monitor is too far away--you need nearsightedness correction. But the correction of your regular distance vision lenses stops working for near-distance vision when you get old enough to develop presbyopia.

      There are a number of ways to address this. You can get a pair of work glasses (I have a pair) that are a weak version of your regular distance vision prescription. This will allow you to clearly focus on a screen that's 24" (or whatever) away. Measure how far your eyes are from your screen with a tape measure and bring that measurement with you when you go to the optometrist.

      Bifocals are a poor solution for this problem, because you really want your whole range of vision to work, not just the bottom half. However, you can get multifocus contact lenses if you wear contacts. These are a bit different than bifocals, and take some getting used to, but apparently work very well (I haven't tried them--I'm reporting what a friend who swears by them has told me).

      Another thing you can do, as others have suggested, is get a really big monitor. This doesn't work as well as you might like with every operating system. I'm having great luck with a 40" samsung 4k display and a Chromebook, because ChromeOS does a stupid but effective hack to make it work: they tell the browser the resolution is half what it is, and use bigger fonts. My experience doing the same thing with Ubuntu has been less positive.

  • All browsers (computer, not assuming mobile) support CONTROL+ and CONTROL- to change font sizes. All modern OSs have a vision impared mode. Even your monitor likely has this feature. I guess it depends on the level of impairment really. But everything you complained about is fixable within your browser/OS. I'm not aware of an all in one turn it on and off easily solution unfortunately. One of my coworkers is vision impaired and deals with it in the manner I explained above. This might be a niche to b
    • It's not just 'look screwy". it becomes effectively unreadable. Minor icons, pictures, and 2nd columns that are only used at the top end up taking 70% of the space, leaving the text in a small, tight column 30% of the monitor.

      What we really need is the ability to increase the text size of just ONE small section.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2015 @07:47AM (#50920837)

    I use a 27" monitor, the NoSquint addon, and f.lux to dim the screen to softer colors at night. NoSquint is great because it can resize the entire webpage or just the text. There are also themes that can make your browser (I use FF) easier to read.

    • Low vision here too: 27" screen, and etext on a tablet for all books and magazines. I can have the font I need in the size I specify.

  • @hackwrench it would help if you describe in what way your vision is poor. Vision can have different problems and these will have different solutions.
  • I've always been aware that it's rare for technology to make any sort of concession for those whose dexterity or vision is below a certain "normal" standard. Raised black lettering on black panels. Tiny little ambiguous ports. Web pages that don't resize well. Pages too bright. (And yeah, I'm looking at you Slashdot.) I've been known to use sunglasses to view my monitor at night. I gave up trying to work the menu with those little hidden buttons. I sure do miss brightness and contrast knobs sometime
    • by dak664 ( 1992350 )

      And tiny black slots on the side of black cases. I keep a flashlight next to the laptop so I can find them.
      And blue on gray text on websites.

      I use glasses half the needed strength so monitor and distance are equally blurry (I take off the glasses for close work and reading).
      Windows 10, 1920x1080 with 150% increase in icons and text, at two meters to a 46 incher, works for me :)

  • by jthill ( 303417 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @07:52AM (#50920851)

    You can use win-plus and -minus to zoom in and out, and win-esc to end, if you didn't know that, try it.

    • Mostly worthless. What happens 9/10 times is that the entire page resizes, rather than just the text. Pictures, ads, and whitespace areas end up taking 80% of the monitor.
  • Freely scaling everything is still pretty crusty in most operating systems, so just get a display with a low DPI.

    What comes to bright backgrounds, lower the brightness of your display and make sure that the surrounding room lighting is adequate.

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      just get a display with a low DPI.

      Good luck with that these days, with all manufacturers boasting about how many pixels they can fit into a tiny area for improved video performance (and screw text size!)

    • No, go the other way as high res as possible. Scaling in OS X on a Retina class screen is quite good. The default is to display @2x - 2x2 physical pixels is 1 "pixel" but you can scale up or down and it looks OK. On my 13" laptop, I run it at a resolution similar to a 15" and everything looks good. On a 27" desktop, you could happily run it at a lower resolution and everything will scale. Things like fonts etc are generally drawn at the native resolution, so they're sharp and crisp. If the app is retina-awa

  • Tinkering with these settings will probably push you deep into false-color territory(unless you are comparing to a genuinely nice and regularly calibrated setup, reasonably recent stuff does a fairly good job out of the box); but all the GPU vendors offer the ability to to set a custom color correction curve for R, G, and B; as well as brightness, contrast, and gamma.

    Helpfully, AMD, Nvidia, and Intel all arrange these controls somewhat differently(and sometimes rearrange them between driver versions); bu
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You insensitive clod! You're headline is too small for me to read!

  • Get a TV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @08:15AM (#50920971)
    A friend of mine had a similar problem, and found he couldn't get a computer monitor big enough. He ended up getting a 40" LCD TV with a HDMI input. It's on his desk at what I'd consider an uncomfortably close distance, but he swears by it.
  • buy glasses. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @08:23AM (#50921009) Homepage

    Honestly learn how glasses are prescribed and how to modify a prescription. go to am optometrist and get a baseline made for reading then modify and order from a place that doesn't ask questions and will make dirt cheap glasses like Zenni.

    I have a special set of computer glasses that are useless for seeing anything outside of my arms length but they magnify everything clearly within arms length. so I can even easily use a 11.8 inch 1080p screen at native resolution on my surface pro.

    use optics to get your vision as clear as it possibly can for the monitor distance and then start toying with the software and contrast, it works a LOT better that way. and yes everyone can benefit from optics to correct as much as possible first.

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      Honestly learn how glasses are prescribed and how to modify a prescription.

      Holy shit, loving all the fabulous advice in this thread!

      Let's all assume the OP counts as a complete idiot and hasn't considered glasses or a bigger monitor, and recommend committing a fucking felony rather than addressing his question directly!

      Brilliant, lads, just brilliant!
      • Honestly learn how glasses are prescribed and how to modify a prescription. Holy shit, loving all the fabulous advice in this thread! Let's all assume the OP counts as a complete idiot and hasn't considered glasses or a bigger monitor, and recommend committing a fucking felony rather than addressing his question directly! Brilliant, lads, just brilliant!

        Got to agree with you. These posts assume the problem is one that can be fixed with a different lens, and that there is not another underlying problem, such as a form of retinopathy (retinal disease) that lenses will not be able to compensate for. To use an old camera analogy, lenses can't compensate for bad film. Or to use a car analogy, changing the wiper blades isn't going to make a cracked windshield better.

        Glasses cannot fix a hole or tear in the retina, blood vessels and membranes growing on the sur

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Committing a felony? are you that fucking retarded that you think such stupid shit?

        Personally I am amazed that you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

        • by pla ( 258480 )
          Remind me again - In what world do you live that forging a prescription doesn't break the law?

          "So we consider these things dangerous/important/abusable enough to require a doctor's order to get them."
          "Wait, what if someone fakes a doctor's orders to get them?"
          "Oh, that would never happen!"
          "Heh, of course not, what was I thinking??? Meeting adjourned!"
    • If fundamental problems have developed with the eye, go to an ophthalmologist, not an optometrist. Huge difference. Lenses can only do so much.

  • I have an eye condition called Fuchs dystrophy which basically means my vision is slightly foggy. I mostly see things okay but when it comes to small text and certain color schemes I really struggle. For example grey text on a white background is really a strain for me to read. One thing I have found that helps with web browsing is a plugin called Stylish. This allows you to change the css file of web pages with your own. For example I read slash dot using white text on black ground with this and can do the
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I will get a lot of hate for this suggestion, but mainly from coke-bottle glasses-wearing neckbeards.

    I suggest you get Windows 10 (I can't bring myself to recommend it, but OSX might be alright too). The High DPI scaling of the OS has been markedly improved since 7 and even 8 (which was a step up in the first place).

    I am one of the "unfortunate" to get stuck trying to make a 3k resolution my home on a 13" laptop, and although many legacy windows apps just end up crudely blowing up the bitmapped image of th

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      One problem with this solution is there are still some Windows native apps that are pixel-based instead of percent or resolution based. We have a 15.6" laptop with a 3840x2160 screen, and have encountered a couple of apps that now display in impossible-to-use resolutions.

      For example, QuickBooks displays a page of instructions in a tiny window that I can literally cover with my thumbnail. The minimize/restore/close icons at the upper right corner of each window are less than 1mm high, and very difficult fo

  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

    I have to second all the opinions saying "use a large TV". My only caveat would be that if you're going to sit two feet (or less) from it, you don't need the brightness all the way up. This also will reduce the heat it throws off, which can be considerable at that distance if it's CCFL-backlit LCD rather than LED -- which I actually recommend because of the better blacks. (It's still better than a similarly sized CRT though.) Also, pick something that has decent off-center performance (like an IPS panel rat

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are Screen Magnification software programs that can enlarge the entire screen. This is like the built-in Windows Magnifier on steroids. Among other options, you can change the contrast (like a film negative), change it to a specific tint (for example - no reds or yellows, only shades of blue), enlarge the mouse cursor, even read things aloud to you.

    All of these have a 30 day trial. More features = more expensive.

    ZoomText - www.aisquared.com - $600
    Magic - http://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Lo

    • It doesn't make Windows Magnifier any less lightweight; MS clearly included it as a checkbox feature, not to compete with the specialists; but one thing worth trying is magnifier in a dual(or more)-monitor configuration. You can move the 'magnified' window so that it fills the entire second screen; while using the primary screen as you normally would. Whatever your cursor is hovering over at a given time will be enlarged, by the amount specified in the magnifier configuration, and splashed across the secon
  • by hippo ( 107522 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @09:09AM (#50921303) Homepage

    http://arcanesanctum.net/negat... [arcanesanctum.net]
    It works with windows 7 and above and it requires Aero to provide the filtering.

    I get headaches from blinding white backgrounds and after spending way too much time trying various solutions like CSS and Windows accessibility themes which don't work I found NegativeScreen.

    It works by putting a filter over the whole screen and allowing you to apply a matrix transform on the pixel values. Out of the box it will reverse the colours so every window gets a black background but there are other transforms supplied (submarine mode is cool). And you can edit the config file to create your own, here's mine which adds a blue tint to the otherwise harsh black:

    Blue Blacks=win+alt+F12
    { -1, 0, 0, 0, 0 }
    { 0, -1, 0, 0, 0 }
    { 0, 0, -0.85, 0, 0 }
    { 0, 0, 0, 1, 0 }
    { 1, 1, 1, 0, 1 }

    ObLinux: xcalib -i

  • Get a Mac. No matter what's on-screen, you can hold the control key and scroll (or swipe up/down on a trackpad) to zoom the whole screen. Move the mouse cursor to the edge to pan. It's intuitive, it doesn't take any screen space, it's variable zoom, and it doesn't limit magnification to a portion of the screen.

    I have a nearly blind friend who ranted for years that nothing adequately replaced her Windows XP magnifier, and that a good screen reader would cost a fortune. I kept telling her to go to a Mac store

    • FWIW my vision is only marginally bad (I'm far-sighted, and getting worse with age), and I have corrective glasses, and even my very modest disability is helped by such an easy zoom. I use it constantly. It's such a natural and integral part of using my Mac that I forget about it when I contemplate switching from a Mac to something else...until I use something else.

    • A mac would be good, if only for the zoom ability available on Safari and Chrome (might be available on Windows too). Pinch out on the trackpad to zoom a web page (really zoom, not just change text size).

    • by AntEater ( 16627 )

      That's not too surprising. I have a family member who is legally blind and finds the zoom feature in the Mac adaptive tools better than anything else available. The scaling is much smoother than the Windows mag tool.

    • PC does the same thing and this is worthless. We WANT to limit the magnifcation just to one section, we don't want to do the entire screen.

      When you do the entire screen, the pictures, ads, and white space (usually from columns just used at the very top) end up taking up way too much space and the 'main' text is pushed to a small fraction of the screen.

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        PC does the same thing and this is worthless. We WANT to limit the magnifcation just to one section, we don't want to do the entire screen.

        When you do the entire screen, the pictures, ads, and white space (usually from columns just used at the very top) end up taking up way too much space and the 'main' text is pushed to a small fraction of the screen.

        You have clearly never used the Mac feature. It zooms based on mouse location, so it's targeted. It's also way smoother than on Windows (I'm not familiar past Win7, so maybe they improved things since then). I really find it handy (even with near-perfect vision) for too-small product images on say, Amazon - it's not unlike the double-tap-to-zoom feature in iOS, but smoother.

        If you want just the text, all main browsers in OSX can use pinch/spread multitouch (or IIRC, CTRL+scrollwheel) to modify text size

    • Windows also have those features built in and the ability to invert the screen but Windows has one extra, it has high contrast themes, including white on black. What put me off even considering Mac is the lack of high contrast themes as I *need* white on black text in my UI. Inverting the screen is great but not when all your photos and videos are inverted, too.

      I'm not saying Windows is better, I'd love to use OSX for some needs but the lack of high contrast themes is a let down. I hope it's something th

  • I'm waiting on these so I can become a robot overlord.

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/b... [ctvnews.ca]

  • Best option is a much larger screen, farther away. At home, use your 40"+ TV. Get a laptop with a larger screen, but don't run it at maximum resolution. Unfortunately Windows doesn't do scaling well, so you just have to reduce the screen resolution. Easiest fix for most websites is to tell Firefox or whatever not to let the site choose background color, and choose grey yourself. Some sites don't work well with this. Tell them so and why they need to respect your background choice.
  • I like to use Linux Firefox with DejaVu Sans 16 point (minimum font size set to 16 as well, plus I don't allow pages to use their own fonts) and it's quite shocking how many sites break with this. Web designers don't seem to think anyone would ever use than 10 point fonts (which are ludicrously tiny on my monitor). It's annoying how Web fonts have crept into sites in recent years as well. Rather than images, they set up Web fonts for navigation icons, social media icons etc. which come out as hieroglyphics

  • I was in a school once where a kid had special "zooming" glasses that greatly magnified a small portion of the field of vision.

    Since they were probably classified as "medical devices" they probably weren't cheap, but today Google Glass or something similar probably could do the job.

    I do not know how well these glasses worked when pointed at a modern computer screen (or, for that matter, a CRT).

    An option like this should at least be considered. If it's not terribly expensive, it should be seriously consider

  • The device is called 'reading glasses'. They cost a couple of bucks in the supermarket.

  • One of our users who is dealing with severe visual impairment relies on a combination of zoomtext on her PC and an IPAD (the pinch to zoom function, large icons, and easy navigation make the ipad a good option). The ZoomText application is pricey but does help a lot, http://www.aisquared.com/produ... [aisquared.com]
  • This is my set of tools/techniques in Windows.

    1) I use Windows 8, you now have high contrast themes and full screen magnification together (this wasn't possible on 7 below)

    2) Not all, but more and more applications support the built in high contrast themes these days. When I find an application that doesn't I usually email the company/developer and politely ask them to fix it and offer to beta test any changes. Sometimes that helps.

    3) I use the built in Windows magnifier combined with an Autohotkey script

  • After reading (with my reading glasses) all of the comments here proposing complicated and expensive monitor and software solutions, I would like to suggest that you just get a pair of reading glasses. The are designed to magnify things at close distance. You should adjust the distance to your monitor to about 18" which is the focal length of most reading glasses.
    Reading glasses are cheap and come in magnifications of 1.5 to 2.75.

  • My late father had to get laser surgery for his eyes since Costco and/or Wal-Mart no longer carried the thick bottle glass glasses he had since the 1950's. That corrected his far sight vision. Still needed reading glasses that he bought from the drug store.
  • Technical, consider a Mac. I'm sure you can borrow one and get help to get accustomed with its visibel impaired modes.
    Medical, consider a lens implant/artificial lens.

  • There are some very good and intelligent screen magnifiers out there, but they do cost.

    ZoomText is by far the most functional, but you will pay anything between $50 and $1,000 depending on the version.

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