In recent weeks, my friends have been asking me a lot about how to make things on the computer easier to see. They are often working on assignments late at night, when their eye fatigue is at the highest, and it can be difficult to focus on what letters are on their keyboard- read more about reducing eye fatigue with technology here. Fortunately, there are many ways to make both physical and digital/touchscreen keyboards for devices easier to see. Here are my tips for how to make keyboards easier to see.
One of the quickest ways to make a physical keyboard easier to see is by adding stickers or washi tape to the top of some or all of the keys. While this requires a bit of precision to keep the keys from sticking together, it is a quick and inexpensive fix. You can add washi tape, also known as paper tape, for a colorful twist, though it will be more difficult to see the letters. Get large print keyboard stickers from Amazon here.
If you need something with a bit more texture than stickers, but don't want Braille, try using stick-on bump dots or tactile dots. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, but I prefer to use the smallest size when working with keyboards. I like that they come in a variety of textures as well, from smooth to resembling the top of a lego. Read more about creating tactile displays here, and get your own bump dots from Amazon here.
Turn on backlight
If your keyboard has this option, turning on backlight for the keys can make the keyboard easier to focus on. Fair warning though, this can drain the battery on laptops somewhat quickly-read more about choosing a laptop here.
A lot of my friends use keyboard covers on their laptop computers. These are often colorful silicon mats that fit over the keys and make the keyboard spill-proof. They also can provide additional contrast for keys and make it easier to find letters. These covers aren't universal though, so you will need to find one for your computer. Here is the one my friend recommended to me on Amazon here.
Large print keyboard
If you always have difficulty seeing the keyboard, a large print keyboard may be the solution. Recently, I was having trouble typing on a computer in the school lab, so I bought a large print keyboard that I could carry in my backpack to class (read more about what I bring to my college classes here). I ended up liking it so much I now use it at my desktop. The specific model I have has yellow keys with black text, but it does not have any backlight. Order the Keys-You-See keyboard on Amazon here.
Enable large text
By going into the settings menu of a device and selecting the accessibility setting, users can increase the text size of their phone, which will in turn increase the size of the keyboard. When working with iOS products, I also enable bold text to make things even easier to see. Read more about iPad accessibility settings here and Android accessibility settings here.
Most device displays can be inverted and have white text on a black background, which can improve readability at nighttime. This alters the entire screen and not just the keyboard, and is great if you’ll be reading for a long time. Just don’t look at photos unless you want to be spooked. You can invert the screen colors under display settings or in accessibility settings under “display accommodations.”
Download a new keyboard
iOS and Android devices allow users to download their own keyboards for further customization. While I am content with the keyboard on my iPad, I use an app called AI Type on my Android phone, which has very large high contrast text and can be customized exactly how I like it. Read about other Android apps that can make any Android phone accessible for low vision here.
Sometimes even just looking at a keyboard can be frustrating, which is where built in dictation features come in handy. I find it easy to speak short messages like texts and web searches, and prefer to type out longer messages like emails. Wondering how people with low vision and blindness text? Read my post on texting etiquette for vision impairment here.
With these tips, you’ll no longer have to worry about the keyboard letters shrinking on you again, and you’ll be able to comfortably read the keys whenever you want.