On any computer, the operating system (OS) is the set of programs that perform the basic tasks that are necessary for the computer to be functional. The OS provides a software platform on top of which application programs can run. The most common operating systems today are Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS (typically known as ‘PC’ and ‘Mac’ respectively). Each operating system differs with what accessibility features it offers. The features that are built in allow for adjustment and customization of the settings to meet vision, hearing, mobility, language, and learning needs.
The built-in accessibility features that are common across most operating systems include:
- The ability to customize the keyboard. Some features include the ability to use the keyboard to control the mouse, allow for pressing one key at a time in place of multiple key combinations and being able to change the length of time it takes for a keystroke to be registered.
- The ability to customize what is displayed. This includes being able to change the contrast, font size, font style, the size of the icons and other display features.
- The ability to enable visual alerts for those who can’t hear auditory alerts.