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Windows XP Vision Case Study

Steven has photophobia and struggles to use computer for any reasonable length of time. He can work for longer on a modern TFT screen than on the older CRT types. He also has low visual acuity and finds has to lean in to see many of the screen fonts.

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I have low acuity and am photophobic and consequently find the glare of the screen difficult to manage for more than a few minutes. Before grappling with the Control Panel I experiment with the screen's brightness and contrast controls, make sure there aren't any reflections from windows (the glass variety) on the screen, and dust the surface thoroughly using a soft lint-free cloth.

After that I consider a new colour scheme. Going through the list available I rather think Lilac has the most potential for me, but the fonts are too small for me to read. I notice that there's a large fonts option and I try this out by clicking Apply. Those fonts are too large for me! I need something inbetween.

I consider things like resolution and screen size. Having already bought my laptop and unable to address these issues I decide to use the Advanced options, with my handy detailed Items list close by, to tailor-make my display so that's it's just right for me.

After choosing my scheme I click the Advanced button and get to work. I'm happy with the size of the text on the Title Bars but the menu text is a little small. I select Menus from the Items List and change the font size to 11. I make it clearer still by pressing the Bold option. It's easy to see but the black feels a little harsh on my eyes so I change the font colour to the darkest blue that pops up on the colour selection box. More colours are available if I click on the Other button.

That blue-on-blue combination works well but the black-on-white of the window text is far too harsh. I know that changing this will affect the documents that I write in Microsoft Word and other applications such as email so it's important to get these colours right. I select Window from the Items List and change the background colour to dark blue and the foreground colour to a middish grey in the bottom right corner of the colour selection box. Unfortunately this changes my Message Text too, making it totally unreadable as the background for this is determined elsewhere. It's a shame because I really like the colour combination for the Window Text. I want to keep the dark background of my document space to clearly define it from the bits of Windows that surround it but I don't think I'm going to be able to as it conflicts with Message Text. Instead I am forced to apply the dark blue font on a lilac background, exactly the same as the menus.

The Message Box text looks a little small so I click on it in the Preview box and increase the font size to 11pt. The glare of the white font in the Title Bars is a bit much so I click on these and change them to the lighter lilac colour third from the left on the bottom row of the colour selection box. Finally I click on the large, black block of colour that makes up the desktop and change this to the grey found in the bottom right of the colour box.

Things look good so I click OK to return to the Display Properties window. Since I took a while choosing my settings I decide to save them straight away, just in case something goes wrong when I click Apply.

I accomplish this by clicking on the Themes tab and selecting the Save As... button. I type 'Very Lilac' as my theme name and click Save.

Safe in the knowledge that I've saved my colour scheme I click on the Apply button and watch as Windows works its magic.

After playing around with my various programs I'm generally quite happy (but would have preferred to have the original colour combination that I wanted). Microsoft Word's menus haven't changed along the top but it's not a problem. The only thing that remains a real nuisance is the Internet. Web pages are still black-on-white so although I can use my computer for much longer without getting a headache I really have to avoid surfing the Internet.

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