Posts filed under 'Tutorials'

Improving Readability of PDFs on the Kindle

A university student who I met through a DSA assessment recently got in touch to say that she was having difficulties reading PDF documents on her Kindle Keyboard. She was finding that the text is too small and this is causing eye strain. Also the small text is exacerbating chronic pain in her neck as she is having to hold the device close to her eyes.

A quick read-through of the Amazon help files reveals that their recommendation is to use the device in Landscape mode. However, as my student points out, this still results in many PDFs being too small to read, particularly those that you a multi-column layout. Although it is possible to zoom and pan this is not always an efficient or practical way for everyone to read documents. The solution to this on most devices is to reflow the text thus allowing a significant increase in font size without losing text off the edge of the screen. Unfortunately the Kindle (Kindle Keyboard in this case) rather surprisingly does not have a reflow feature and instead Amazon offer a quick conversion service. Amazon have an instruction page on how to use this service but it essentially involves sending the PDF to [your kindle name] with the subject “convert”. The resulting document will be sent directly to the Kindle if connected via WiFi and to the email address associated with your Amazon account.

If the Amazon service is not meeting your needs then free software is available which performs the same function. One option which I’ve heard works well is the snappily-titled K2pdfopt which is designed to excel at handling multi-column PDF files.

For maximum readability it is also important to get the contrast right as PDFs can often be presented using a very pale font. Many users have found that the text in PDFs is easier to read when the contrast setting is set to the darkest option.

Add comment February 23rd, 2012

Switch Access to the Internet

A new article has been added to the main BLTT website.

Accessing the Internet using switches alone is possible but its ease and practicality depends on the web site you are attempting to access.

Two-switch users can jump in and use simple websites simply by setting their switch driver to use TAB and ENTER to allow them to scan and select links. For more complex pages specialist software such as The Grid may need to be employed.

Single-switch users will always need specialist software to allow them to automatically scan through links. HotSpots can provide a great solution for simple layouts.

Read the article.

1 comment April 15th, 2007

JAWS Cribsheets

I have added five JAWS cribsheets to the main bltt website.

They contain information to help new users get to grip with common Windows programs and activities. These include sending and receiving emails and using Microsoft Word.

These training materials are available now, for free, from the Better Living Through Technology JAWS screenreader page.

Add comment April 3rd, 2007

Fix Inaccessible PDFs

I’ve added a new tutorial on the bltt website.

Some poorly-authored PDF files contain text only as an image which is not accessible to a screenreader or other text-to-speech software such as PDF Aloud or ReadPlease. Inaccessible PDFs are read aloud in the wrong order or, more commonly, random characters, letters and symbols are spoken that reflect nothing of the original.

You can fix these PDFs using Optical Character Recognition without needing to print out and re-scan it.

Add comment March 20th, 2007

Magnifying Web Pages

For many years most major web browsers have had built-in text size controls. Although it is generally very useful, the feature has its limitations as some pages fall into an unreadable mess and some others fix their text to a certain size and won’t budge.

Internet Explorer 7 ships with a new feature called Page Zoom that magnifies the entire page up to 400%. This includes the text and graphics and leaves the layout intact. However it’s not all clear sailing as my article on web page magnification clearly illustrates.

The article also looks at the free PageZoom add-on for Firefox which attempts to provide a similar feature.

Add comment February 15th, 2007

Using Form Fields in Word

Microsoft Word’s form fields feature allows you to make great accessible worksheets and cloze procedure activities for students who struggle to use a pencil.

This tutorial takes you step-by-step through the process of making these activities.

Better Living Through Technology tutorial: Using Form Fields in Word

Add comment January 10th, 2007


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