The Parkinson Alliance Blog

Accessibility: Computer Settings That Can Help Persons With Parkinson’s – Part 1

By Margaret Tuchman, President of The Parkinson Alliance

When I upgraded my older Macintosh with a new 27″ beautiful iMac, I was in for a big surprise.  While the display was gorgeous, I suddenly realized everything I saw was tiny!  The pointer was so small that I couldn’t find it. The menus seemed to overlap.  When I touched my new mouse, open windows started flying everywhere.  I couldn’t find the scroll bars.  I suddenly found myself wondering if my Parkinson’s was going to stop me from using my computer.

Luckily for me, the person who helped me set up my new computer immediately saw my panic.  She then began making adjustments, turning features on and off, which resulted in me having a much better computer experience.  What follows are some of the changes made that saved me, and maybe will save you, some enormous frustration.

Changing the default size of the pointer/cursor, reducing transparency, and adjusting contrast.  All of these modifications are made in the Display area of the Accessibility panel.  To access it, go to Finder > System Preferences > Accessibility > Display.  You can see my settings below, which include a larger cursor size, reduce transparency turned on, and the display contrast tweaked.  While in that area, you may want to experiment with other settings to see if they made a positive difference.


Larger icons.  In the Finder, select View > Show View Options.  Or, from the Finder select Command-J.  Use the slider near the icon size to adjust the size of the icons.  You can see my other settings below that include a large grid spacing and larger text under my icons.


Dark menu background and showing scroll bars.  Both are great options that are easy to miss.  To turn them on, go to Finder > System Preferences > General.  Then, click in the box to turn on “Use dark menu bar and Dock” and click “Always” to show scroll bars.


In part two, I will share some more settings that helped me.  I will also give some resources for people using the Windows operating system.  If you have any favorite settings, please let me hear from you!

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