Accessibility in Windows XP

Make computers easier and more comfortable to use with accessibility features and utilities built right into Microsoft® Windows XP (Professional and Home versions).

Display and Readability

Windows XP includes a wide array of options to increase visibility of items on the computer screen. Options that can be adjusted include:

Sounds and Speech

Windows XP includes options to make computer sounds easier to hear or distinguish—or, visual alternatives to sound. A variety of speech-to-text options are also available. Options you can adjust include:

  • Sound Volume—turn computer sound up or down.
  • Sound Schemes—associate computer sounds with particular system events.
  • Notification—Get sound or visual cues when accessibility features are turned on or off.
  • Narrator—Hear window command options and text read aloud.

Keyboard and Mouse

In Windows XP you can choose a number of options to make your keyboard and mouse faster and easier to use. Options you can adjust include:

Mouse Options: Keyboard Options:
  • Character Repeat Rate—set how quickly a character repeats when a key is struck.
  • Keyboard Layout—choose alternative keyboard layouts for people who type with one hand or finger.
  • StickyKeys—allow pressing one key at a time (rather than simultaneously) for key combinations.
  • FilterKeys—ignore brief or repeated keystrokes and slow down the repeat rate.
  • ToggleKeys—hear tones when pressing certain keys.
  • MouseKeys—move the mouse pointer using the numerical keypad.

Accessibility Wizard and Utilities

The Accessibility Wizard can help new users quickly and easily set up groups of accessibility options that address visual, hearing, and dexterity needs all in one place. The Accessibility Wizard asks questions about accessibility needs. Then, based on the answers, it configures utilities and settings for individual users. The Accessibility Wizard can be run again at any time to make changes, or changes can be made to individual settings through Control Panel.

Windows XP Accessibility Utilities:
  • Magnifier—a display utility that makes the computer screen more readable by creating a separate window that displays a magnified portion of the screen.
  • Narrator—a text-to-speech utility that reads what is displayed on the screen—the contents of the active window, menu options, or text that has been typed.
  • On-Screen Keyboard—displays a virtual keyboard on the computer screen that allows people to type data by using a pointing device or joystick.
  • Utility Manager—enables administrator-level users to check an accessibility program's status and start or stop an accessibility programs—automatically, if required.

Related Accessibility Links:

Windows XP logo

Note to Assistive Technology Users

Be sure to contact your assistive technology manufacturer to verify compatibility of your AT before upgrading.