Skype – Not the most accessible program out there

As much as I love Skype, and think that everyone should have a go at trying it out (trust me, it can be quite revolutionary in how you go about communicating on the internet), there are a few faults which only become apparent when you are a keyboard-intensive user, or have certain disabilities.

Keyboard shortcuts

When you go through setting up Skype, you have the option of setting up keyboard shortcuts for only a few things – Show/Hide Skype, Answer Incoming Call, Place Call on Hold, Mute Microphone, Hang up/Ignore call, and Find users.

If you try to use the keyboard to find out what events are new, you can try, but it requires a lot of tabbing through the window to find it. Also, if you want to exit the program? You must use the mouse and right click on the taskbar icon. There is no way in the main window (through the file menu) to exit Skype; all you can do that way (or with Alt+F4, is close the window.

Maximum Font Size

Last night, as I was preparing to go over to the couch, I went into a chat window (because that is the only way you can do this) to change the font size from its current 8 point to a more reasonable size for viewing from slightly afar – 20 or greater, or so.

The list in the dialog only went up to 12, so I did the old trick you could do in Word – type in the size I wanted. When I went to click the OK button, I got an error –

Font size must be between 4 and 12 pixels.

Because of that, I have to use the magnifier built into Windows in order to use Skype from my couch. However, it got me to thinking that this isn’t good for someone who has a hard time reading small print on a screen. Sure, they can use a Screen reader or other accessibility accessories, but if that is the only program that they need to use it for, then they might think that Skype isn’t worth the bother to use if they can’t see what is going on in the program.

As great as the program is, you have to wonder how many folks have shied away from it for just this reason.

By the way, if you’re interested, the reason I’m using the couch to work on the computer, my chair has had a minor fault, and I’ve requested a replacement part be shipped to me. Luckily, I have the warranty still in force (for at least another 2.5 years) on some parts of the chair. It should be around just in time for next weekend to start.

In the meantime, I am using a chair from the kitchen for up close work, and can easily move to the couch for other things (like writing, etc) thanks to the wireless keyboard and mouse that I have.

2 thoughts on “Skype – Not the most accessible program out there

  1. I am used to using Skype on the mac. When I moved over to the windows version, although it has more functions, I hated the differences in Layout!

    You can’t beat it though for free video calls. I speak to my mum this way now.

  2. It is work, but I have a shortcut. She’s actually about three feet tall. My daughter exchanges Flat Stanley with kids all over, and she mastered Skype like it was a VCR :-).

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