Most standard web browsers provide the ability to modify accessibility settings including display settings such as screen magnification, text size and color contrast, among others. The advantage to modifying display settings in the browser itself is that browser settings apply to all websites visited using that browser.
While Sumac does not maintain a list of how to modify display settings for all versions of all browsers, as of 2014, there are consistently available display modifications available in the current version of most standard browsers. This page is intended to provide a high level overview of display modifications available through current versions of standard web browsers.
Whereas text resizing only changes the size of the text in a web browser, screen magnification increases the size of all elements on a website, including image content. Current versions of most standard web browsers offer the option of controlling both screen magnification and text size.
In most web browsers, press Command+ (Macintosh) or Control+ (Windows) to increase screen magnification, and Command- or Control- to decrease it.
Options to control overall screen magnification or text size only are available as a secondary menu item of most standard browsers (usually contained within View, Tools, Preferences or Settings).
The most reliable way to find out how to change text size or screen magnification is to click on the browser Help menu, then type either "text size" or "screen magnification" into the search bar. The search results should provide the location of controls for that specific browser version.
Color contrast controls are not as readily available as screen magnification and text size controls. The location of color contrast controls varies by web browser, and as new versions of browsers are released, color contrast controls may continue to evolve.
Browsers with color controls (2013 browser version on Windows PC)
- Internet Explorer: color controls are available under Tools/Internet Options. (You must change settings to ignore preset colors once you set up your color preferences.)
- Firefox: color controls are available under Tools/Options. (You must disable system colors and disallow pages from setting their own colors once you set up your color preferences.)
- Opera: color controls are available under Settings/Preferences. (It is more complicated than in IE and Firefox to ensure that your color settings overwrite those of web pages.)
Browsers lacking color controls (2010 browser version on Windows PC)
- Safari: automated color modifications are not available. However, more advanced users can modify browser settings for color in View/Preferences by applying a custom Cascading Style Sheet. This is not a straightforward setting to enable. Hopefully this will be corrected in future versions of the browser.
- Google Chrome: searching "color contrast," "high contrast" and "accessibility" in the Google Chrome help forum did not provide a definitive answer. Hopefully this will be corrected in future versions of the browser.
Alternatives to built-in browser color controls
Firefox offers a free, downloadable extension called LowBrowse, intended for internet users with low vision.
The most reliable way to find out how to change color contrast is to click on the browser Help menu, then type "high contrast" into the search bar. The search results should provide the location of controls for that specific browser version.
The BBC My Way website offers a guide to modifying web browser settings for improved accessibility.
The Web Accessibility Initiative website contains a page on how to change text size or colors. However, there are not explicit instructions for all current web browsers.