My grandmother loves the internet. Yes, this includes LOLcats, but one of the things she doesn't love is how unfriendly it can be for someone in their 80s to navigate (and we're not talking about inappropriate material). As a grandchild who adores her grandmother, this post and these tips are dedicated to her — may her Chrome loving self enjoy them in the very best of health.
5 Tips to Make the Internet More Accessible via Google Chrome:
1. Adjust the Font.
One of the simplest ways to make viewing stuff easier for those with less than ideal vision is to make the font larger. To adjust these in Chrome go to: Google Chrome Options, select the Under the Hood tab, and click the Fonts and Languages button. In addition to changing the font size this way, it might also be helpful to use the Minimum Font Chrome extension, which, as the name implies, allows you to set the minimum font size on various web sites.
2. Use the Zoom Shortcut.
My grandmother quickly figured out how to access the zoom menu drop down, but she had no idea that there was a shortcut to activate zoom. Knowing the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl++ made things much easier for her.
3. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts.
This one is a HUGE, and once the zoom shortcut is learned, it's a nice transition to other keyboard shortcuts and just how useful they are. The ones that are most used in my grandparents' house are: Shift+Alt+B: Bookmarks Toolbar, Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+PgDown: switches to the next tab, Ctrl+W or Ctrl+F4: closes the current tab, and ALT-F4: quits the application. To help make learning these easier, my grandma wrote them down on a pad near the computer so that they were always at hand. You can find the full list of shortcuts here.
4. Smooth Gestures & Permanent Readability Extensions
While there are several helpful Chrome extensions, these are two that are especially helpful for the older technologist. Smooth Gestures makes navigating the web much easier by enabling the right mouse button to trigger actions, such as page navigation or tab management. This extension also supports click-and-drag (mouse gesture), click-and-scroll (scroll gesture), click-and-click (rocker gesture), and keyboard shortcuts! Readability is a great way to read content online since it takes out many of the things my grandmother hates, like banners and "weird" fonts and styling, and presents a clean view, ideal for reading. Permanent Readability adds a context menu that makes it very easy to enable/disable Readability.
5. Use Bookmarks.
Having the sites that my grandmother loves to visit organized in the way that makes the most sense for her has really helped her browsing experience. This took about an hour of sitting together and organizing bookmarks, but it's made a world of difference. Some sites she prefers to find in the Bookmark Bar, others she likes organized under different menus. Spending a little bit of time doing this legwork and teaching how to make more bookmarks goes a long way in making the web a much more friendly place.
Of course other browsers also have accessibility features, but since Chrome is the one my grandmother uses the most and it's also the one that seems to be the most popular among the in-the-know senior set (we blame Angry Birds), we used Chrome to provide the tips. We'd love to know about the accessibility tips you and your family find helpful so be sure to share in the comments!
(Images: Flickr members Prupert and Presley Perswain, licensed for use under Creative Commons)