As promised since before its release in 2015, Microsoft has issued periodic updates to the Windows 10 operating system. With these updates, we have seen steady progress in the refinement of essential accessibility tools included with the OS.
In a recent update, the high contrast settings received a terrific new upgrade. Read on to learn more on this but first, let me introduce the high contrast feature to you.
The High Contrast Settings allow computer users who require better contrast or different colours than those in the standard Windows colour themes to pick from a few schemes that have either dark print on a light foreground or light print on a dark background. The feature also allows customisation of colours for specific screen items such as links or selected text, etc. Unlike many other options that enhance contrast, the High Contrast Settings in Windows 10 do not generally affect images. This means that photographs, videos and logos will retain their standard colouring.
The Windows High Contrast Setting replaces colours rather than inverting colours, as other solutions do. The problem with inverting colours is that if you start with two colours that are low in contrast, such as yellow on blue, and invert them, the contrast is still low. It's just that the colours are reversed.
So, what is this hot new enhancement to Windows High Contrast Settings? Now the individual colours are infinitely variable through the use of the new colour picker tool. As mentioned, High Contrast already offered some customizable colours but now there is much more flexibility. This is useful in several ways. Although more contrast is often thought to be preferable, many people find pure white on black hard to look at. Instead, one might choose a pale yellow on a dark gray background or black text on an off-white background. It also gives computer users options for trying to create schemes to deal with problematic environments, for instance websites that do not show well with the preset colour combinations in the High Contrast Settings. It is easy to create several variants of a preferred set of colours to suit different lighting conditions or eyes that fatigue after some screen time.
Figure 1 images shows the Windows 10 High Contrast Settings dialog with the colour picker display option opened
To get an idea of the results possible through the high contrast settings, here are three images that show the Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada site. First in the standard colours, then in a standard high contrast preset and lastly with a set of colours modified using the colour picker. While not everyone will choose the same colours, the key here is that each colour is highly variable so with a bit of experimentation, each person should be able to find a colour set that works.
Figure 2 Screen shot of the Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada website in its standard colours
Figure 3 Screen shot of the Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada website using a Windows High Contrast Setting preset
Figure 4 Screen shot of the Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada website using a Windows High Contrast Setting modified using the colour picker tool
One last piece of information: you can quickly switch in and out of whichever high contrast setup you last used by using the keyboard command left alt, left shift + print screen (sometimes displayed as PS).
Enjoy tweaking those colours to your heart's content!