Make Your Web Browser More Reader-Friendly

Visual disorders affect more than half of all individuals with MS, which can make even simple tasks more difficult.  Everyday things take more effort and more time when your vision is impaired in some way, including reading or doing anything online.  In this day and age, almost everything can, or needs to be done online, making surfing the internet unavoidable.  While many websites make an effort to be visually interesting and engaging, as well as readable, it can still be a challenge to read the information on your computer screen.

Every web browser is different, but there are some tricks that you can use to make your online experience a little easier when looking for information on the internet:

  • Font Size – If the type on a web page is too small, easily zoom in to make the font larger by pressing the “Control” key (on a Windows computer) or the “Command” key (on a Mac computer) and the “+” key. To zoom back out, press the “Control” or “Command” key and the “-“ key.
  • Clickable Content – An easy way to navigate around a page to find a link you are looking for is to hit the “Tab” key on your keyboard while on a web page. This will start where you are on the page and highlight the first link within view. To move further down the page, keep hitting the “Tab” key until the link you wish to click is highlighted. If you accidentally go past the link you wanted to click, press and hold the “Shift” key then press the “Tab” key to go backwards up the page. Press the “Return” or “Enter” key to click a highlighted link.
  • Cluttered Page – Most web browsers also offer the option of a “Reader Mode” which will remove ads, leaving only larger text and associated images, making the page easily readable. Web browsers that offer this mode include: Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. These extensions or settings may not work on every web page, but they can make the overall online experience a little easier.

For more details on how to adapt your browser to meet your accessibility needs, visit the browser-specific links below:

What tips, tricks, and tools do you use to improve the appearance of what you are reading online?

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I Am Free in the Water

By Simone Sanders

I was an unusually tall child. I stood at almost five feet tall by the age of six. So, naturally, my family began to speculate about my future athletic potential. My grandfather, who was an avid swimmer, decided that my lanky, thin frame would best be suited for swimming. And so my lessons began at seven years old. I remember I felt two things the very first time that I jumped into the pool: cold and free.

On land, I was quite awkward. Being much taller than the other kids left me at the end of the line most of the time. My feet and hands were too big to swap shoes and winter gloves with the other girls in the class and adults always seemed to notice my height first. But the very features that made me awkward on land made me graceful in the water. My big feet helped me swim faster than the other kids. My hands helped me pull water behind my body more efficiently and my height made me superior in a race to the finish line. In the water, I was a winner.

Fast forward twenty years and I still feel like a winner when I swim. Living with multiple sclerosis on land is rough. I walk slowly. My hands and feet are numb and tingling. My vision is blurred from optic neuritis. I am tired all of the time and my brain is sometimes in a fog. But I am free in the water. I don’t have to drag my body because my limbs are light. My hands and feet are both cold so the numbness and tingling stops. My blurred vision doesn’t matter because there is nothing to see in front of me but the finish line. And if I am tired, I float. In the pool I am not disabled. When I am swimming, I am enough.

In a race against MS, I win.

 

*If you are interested in learning more about using your own passion for swimming to help the MS community, please visit SwimForMS.org.

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The Monster’s Identity Revealed

By Lauren Kovacs

I was only 16 and the MS monster tried out its first attack. Optic Neuritis was the flavor it chose for nine months. At the age of 21, the monster awoke again. Numb from the neck down and several bewildered university sports medicine doctors pushed me to seek help from another doctor.

The doctor told me it was a stroke, gave me muscle relaxers, and sent me back to campus. Being a pretty smart college student, I knew muscle relaxers and a stroke were not the answers.

I went and saw our old neighbor, also a family doctor. I was directed back to the neurologist from my optic neuritis days. I was not sure how my eyeball related to my numb legs.

After tests, he said it was MS. The monster had revealed its identity. He said not to research it. I was only 21 and I was not going to research it?

The university library became my new home. Because you could not see it, many of my teammates accused me of faking it to miss our long practices. I sat day after day watching my team practice for UCA Nationals without me. Still confused, I just kept reading books about MS. The internet was still new.

Now, I read anything and everything MS related. I read about alternative therapies. I visit blogs. Prayer is also still a big shield.

I write down new drugs I am taking. I keep track of side effects. I write down how new medicine makes me feel. I take charge of the MS. I am the boss.

I had to change doctors because, after five years on one treatment, it was the only way for me to change medicines. Another one, I swear, made me feel like I was making it up. You are in charge. After five neurologists, I finally found a great one. She works with me instead of feeling like I was sent to the principal’s office.

Wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces are part of me. The internet has been the new library. I read about suggestions on everything, not always MS related. No MS topic is off limits or embarrassing either. If there is a short cut to anything, I try it.

Reading and taking charge are ways I keep the MS monster calm. I have days where I cry a lot, but chocolate is my cure. I don’t let MS rule my life. Even if I am unsure about a medication, I talk to my doctor openly about it.

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