View Full Version : AW and Low Vision

11-20-2011, 09:19 PM
Now and then I see a post about how a font size is too small for someone to read or how a color used in critiquing is hard to distinguish from the regular text. They are things that don't really take any extra time or effort for a poster to do one way over another.

Especially since often the ones with lower vision are older, I wonder how much experience we're not getting to share when people can't see some of the posts well and just give up on reading them.

If you have low vision, are there any particulars that make things easier or harder on here? Also, are particular fonts easier or harder to see? What do you tend to skip over because it's too hard to see? What helps?

Thanks. :)

The Lonely One
11-21-2011, 06:28 AM
Hmmm. ctrl+mouse scroll up?

11-21-2011, 10:44 AM
Best contrast on the compter screen = black letters on white background. Anything smaller than the equivalent of 12-point from WORD is hard for me to read without changing my posture in my chair (learning forward). For short posts, this isn't a huge problem, but for long ones, it is a problem.

For those who like to use a variety of colored fonts, remember that there are several types of color blindness, and sufferers may find colorful posts hard to read. Your favorite color may be one that is a problem of color blind individuals.

11-21-2011, 11:45 AM
The best thing to do is stick to the forum default. Don't play with colours and font sizes. Only put small amounts in bold or italics for emphasis.

Something that's become trendy on the forum is to add coloured comments within quoted sections. I wish people wouldn't do this, as I have trouble reading certain colours (due to brain processing issues, not vision ones). I skip anything coloured in a quoted section in most cases. If you absolutely have to add something in a quote, bolding it would be better. But often, the comments could have gone below the quote just as easily.

11-21-2011, 06:13 PM
My recurring issue is what happens when people paste text from Word. This apparently overrides AW's default font and size (Verdana 3).

So what's a perfectly readable Times New Roman 12 on their own computer is teensy here, and may also lack blank lines between paragraphs. For a long time I asked lots of people using SYW to revise, but most didn't. Being a curmudgeon, I now just skip such posts.

Yes, I can enlarge my display in any number of ways, but if someone can't be bothered to read the freakin' FAQ on formatting (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/announcement.php?f=135&a=93), odds are good their work is equally unprofessional.

Maryn, rivaling other irascible users

11-21-2011, 06:33 PM
I use Times NR 12 for writing on my computer, but before I post in SYW I convert it to Verdana. Recently I've been having trouble coming up with the appropriate Verdana size on my computer for the conversion - so I still have to highlight my text and make it bigger once I paste it here. I've been using Verdana 10 on mine so I may need to try 11. (I also put the line breaks in before I post.)

I'm older and using a small monitor so I have to use reading glasses as a normal course when I'm on here. Posts in Times NR 12 in SYW are too small for me - but if I really want to read the post, I open a response box, copy, paste, and enlarge the post. Then if I don't want to keep the post in my box I delete that portion. Takes an extra minute but it's doable.

Colors - this is a problem because showing comments and corrections of posts in SYW come across much better in color - especially if you want to show more than one type of comment - sometimes I'll use one color just to show repetition of words too close together or passive constructions or verb tense issues. But, for the majority of my crit/comments I use the strongest blue that's in the selection box. Second choice is the strongest red. From there on the color choices aren't so good - there's no really strong green or purple.

I'm interested to see the comments above about bolding as an alternative. I'd certainly go that route if the poster let us know in advance there was a problem with colors.

Not sure what the solution is - interesting topic. Puma

Susan Littlefield
11-21-2011, 07:54 PM
Also, most browsers have an option where you can increase font for better reading. I sometimes do this. However, I think not using light colored fonts against the white background is good. I am color blind (yes, women can be colorblind. :D), and I cannot distinguish similar colors. For example, if you have dark brown against a light brown background, or yellow against a white background, I cannot see it until I strain my eyes to look really closely. Tell me to get a brown binder leaning against the side of a brown bookshelf, and I'll say, "Where is it?"

FB, thank you so much for opening this conversation. Very considerate of you. :)

11-21-2011, 08:02 PM
I write all my posts here in notepad so formatting doesn't seem to be an issue for that.

Haven't tried SYW yet, but having 'grown up' as a writer in the internet sphere and posting stuff online, I'm much more comfortable with the blank line between paragraphs and have had to set up my word doc template to format it automatically for future submission.

Never got into the cute changing fonts, sizes and colors for forum discussions, though. Too much trouble to do that when I could be writing. :)

11-21-2011, 09:23 PM
Mine relates more to blogs or websites; I can't read anything with a black, or dark background. After a few seconds the words start to run together and my eyes strain to the point of a headache. And I'm far from older...

11-21-2011, 09:39 PM
Fruitbat, thanks for bringing this up, although I doubt enough people will see or heed it. My vision fluctuates depending on time of day, amount of rest, stress, etc. Sometimes I can read with just my contact lenses, sometimes I need reading glasses on top of them, occasionally for tiny stuff I need contacts+reading glasses+magnifying glass.

If it's too much trouble, and not something I *must know* then I'll usually skip it. :Shrug:

I know print is different from computer, but I imagine the same general guidelines we had when I designed handouts/posters and produced videos for low literacy clients would work.

Size: not too small. Back then, in print, minimum size was 12pt Times Roman. In print, serif was preferred over non-serif. Not sure what that translates to in computer size/style.

Colors: dark on light, or occasionally, white on dark. Must have a strong contrast.

Paragraphs: extra line space between.

White space: leave some on the edges so the eye has a place to rest.

Justification: ragged right edge for text rather than whole line justified. Easier to follow down to the next line.

Lists: use bullet points or numbers to keep it easy to see that the items belong together, even though they're separate.

I think those were the basics. Seems easy enough to follow, really, if you're interested in truly communicating with others, rather than just posting your thoughts.

11-21-2011, 10:51 PM
You can also just select the text and hit the remove formatting button when you copy. That's what I do and it works just fine.

11-21-2011, 11:05 PM
I'm not entirely sure what the forum software does, but as a general rule, the most friendly thing you can do is to post using default settings. Then a visually impaired person's own default settings will kick in when they view it. If you specify size and colour, they won't.

If I were programming something like this, I'd also have styles for "normal" and "quote" and allow users to change how they view them.

I'm fairly sure I've seen one of the mods say they are visually impaired, so this or similar may well already be implemented.

11-22-2011, 03:34 PM
I have my browser settings set to force all fonts to be at least 14. This breaks the formatting of a few sites, but AW doesn't seem to have any problems from it. And yeah the control plus zoom is awesome (except for not working with some kinds of heavily scripted pages).

11-25-2011, 08:35 AM
Being mostly blind, legally so, I have to make everything huge, the worst is when a post is in tiny tiny font, and the light orange (my daughter tells me it is light orange)(I can't see it) in sig lines, can't see it at all.

Karen Junker
11-25-2011, 08:58 AM
I have trouble reading stuff in purple or in italics. I have to work a little harder to see it. Like Maryn, I skip critting stuff that's too small or has no lines between the paragraphs.

Thanks for bringing this up, Fruitbat. I'm older and have to wear glasses, generally.

Bing Z
11-25-2011, 09:10 AM
I use Times NR 12 for writing on my computer, but before I post in SYW I convert it to Verdana. Recently I've been having trouble coming up with the appropriate Verdana size on my computer for the conversion - so I still have to highlight my text and make it bigger once I paste it here. I've been using Verdana 10 on mine so I may need to try 11. (I also put the line breaks in before I post.)


Have you tried pasting your TNR12 texts onto Notepad (or any text editor) and then copy & paste from there to SYW?

Old Hack
11-28-2011, 12:20 AM
Or just paste it into the reply box, highlight it, and hit the "remove formatting" button (which is up there on the left and looks like two capital letter As crossed out with a fine red cross).

11-28-2011, 03:38 AM
I don't know if this applies to AW or not, but I know in my day to day life, when receiving emails from one of my girlfriends who uses a PC (I use a Mac), the font is just so, so small on my screen--very hard to read. It appears fine for her, but too small for me. I have to go in and make the font bigger so I can read her emails.

12-04-2011, 02:13 AM
I just posted a query about this very issue - I didn't know there was a thread already. :)

I have my browser set to display fonts no smaller than 16 point, but this site still looks too small to me so I've had to increase that to font size 18, I am now typing into a reply box and the text I'm typing in - is minescule. :flag:

I also have my PC set up so the theme has larger fonts all over the place and the icons are larger - but I don't use the 'accessibility' function cos I find it's rubbish, it just doesn't do enough, I have to set it all up myself, my way. (So of course I have to save themes in case of crashes.) http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smiley-chores046.gif

The other problem I have is with the achingly glaring white screen, I get headaches from that. :cry:

Hey! ctrl + works on the box text!!!! Hoooray! :hooray:

I also find any sans serif font (like verdana, courier and the dreaded ariel) much harder to read than Times New Roman) :Soapbox:

I tried having my own background colours when I go on the web, but if people change text colours this can mean that some text just disappears totally. :Shrug:

So when people post work for critique - I usually can't see it, until I've copied it to Word and changed the font and increased the font size. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/frown.gif

It's a pain. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/EmoteHeadbang.gif

I write in MS Word so that my text looks like regular fiction books, no adding lines between paragraphs, no double spacing, no odd colours. I use font TNR, in font size 14 - because when printed out I can read it, and I can read it on the screen too. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/emoteThumbs.gif
I indent paragraphs, and signal pov changes or location changes with extras lines and a # http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/emoteThumbs.gif
I have chapter titles, but put those in the header (so it doesn't throw out my word count). http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/emoteThumbs.gif

But when I tried recently to copy and paste a paragraph of my own work onto this site, it immediately changed font and font size so I just couldn't stand to read it. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/e2teeth.gif

It's a pain. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smiley-violent088.gif

I won't say 'can't something be done about it?' http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/mob.gif

...because I've not long joined this site and I quite like it here... http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/e2cloud9.gif
...and don't want to alienate everyone, http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/chair.gif

but... http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/e2BIC.gif

I might just be thinking it. :tongue

12-04-2011, 03:47 AM
Mine relates more to blogs or websites; I can't read anything with a black, or dark background. After a few seconds the words start to run together and my eyes strain to the point of a headache. And I'm far from older...

On Mac OS X Control+Option+Command+8 on your keyboard inverts your screen; that is black pixels become white. So white text on black will be inverted to black on white.

There are bookmarklets that let you change or invert colors in your Web browser.

My friend Dori wrote this one called Black on White (http://www.backupbrain.com/2004/09/stupid-mac-tricks/).

Most Web browsers let you set font type, size and color preferences with a check box that says "Use my choices no matter what the Web site says." The exception to this is Safari--you have to supply a custom CSS file.

Check out plugins and services like Reader in Safari, or Instapaper (http://www.instapaper.com/)--a basic account is free. See also Readability (http://www.readability.com/), a browser plugin.

Just a note in passing: I'm the Web master and one of the Admins for AW.

I'm very visually impaired. I'm using all manner of adaptive technology, and I do take this seriously, as does MacAllister.