Finding the Needle in the Haystack

by Maurie Hill on March 7, 2012

Cartoon image of a man pulling a needle out of a haystack“Zoom creep” has increased my screen magnification level to about 7X this year, turning web exploration into a laborious task.  With less than ideal vision, finding something specific in the endless sea of information on the World Wide Web can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Tired of endless searching, I put some effort into learning how to maximize ZoomText 10’s new Enhanced Web Finder feature.

One simple way to use Web Finder is to just open it, type a word, and then press Enter.  Web Finder will not only read aloud the first instance of that word or phrase, but it reads the words around it, making it easy for you to decide if you’ve found that needle in the haystack.  If that wasn’t what you were looking for, you can move on to the next instance by tapping the Enter key until you’ve find that golden nugget. I use this method to quickly find the login or contact information without having to move the mouse all over the magnified screen. If my search for “Contact” lands me on a “Contact Us” button, pressing CONTROL + ENTER will open the contact information page I was looking for.

And I am now using Web Finder to quickly acclimate myself to a new web site.  After starting Web Finder, a few hotkeys can really speed up navigation and discovery.  For example, on a newspaper page, I wanted to know a little bit about how it is organized, so I used the CONTROL + L hotkey to go from link to link, which exposed all the sections of the electronic newspaper. When I heard “Local News”, I used CONTROL + ENTER to take me there.  On the new web page, I used CONTROL + H to see what major headings or articles existed on this new page.  These hotkeys are easy to remember – L for Links and H for Headings.  There are similar hotkeys for quickly finding images, lists, tables, forms, and controls.

If you are baffled by these terms, toughen up and go to a web page you’re familiar with.  Then try some of these hotkeys and see what comes up.  When you’re filling out a form and you get that message saying you have not filled in all the required fields, instead of getting annoyed, use CONTROL + C in Web Finder until you locate the edit box or radio button you missed the first time.  Can’t find the checkout button while shopping online?  Try CONTROL + C until you find it or search for the text that would be on the button, such as “checkout” or “Submit”.

You can also switch to “List” mode on the Web Finder toolbar to expose a list of the different types of elements that appear on the web page.  Narrow down that list by typing what you’re specifically looking for or select a specific type of information, such as images, or links.

Here are a couple of tips – some images are also links, so ZoomText will tell you that along the way.  For example, you might hear “photo of the Statue of Liberty, Image”, and after choosing next, you’ll hear “photo of the Statue of Liberty, link” This is not a repeat of the same item, as one might think, because the photo might be both an image and a link.  Another thing – when you’re in list mode, click in the list before using the mouse wheel to scroll down, otherwise turning the mouse wheel will change the word or phrase that you’ve typed into the Search edit box on the Web Finder toolbar, modifying the list of results currently in view.

Now go forth and be brave; no harm, no foul.  Instead of staring at the magnified screen through fuzzy vision, open a web page, start Web Finder (CONTROL + SHIFT + W) and check out the new Enhanced Web Finder toolbar.  See how it goes using the toolbar and then you can always check out Web Finder’s specific hotkeys.  The new Enhanced Web Finder helps make web browsing fun again instead of a brutally time consuming task.

  • HowToImproveEyeSight

    Wow! you do know how to extract information, with the use of the hot keys, that is so smart. I need to learn to do the same. Here is a great line on understanding eye vision, that i found on my favorite web site: wikipedia.
    1. “The visual system in humans and animals allows individuals to assimilate information from the environment. The act of seeing starts when the lens of the eye focuses an image of its surroundings onto a light-sensitive membrane in the back of the eye, called the retina.
    2. “Transduction is the process through which energy from environmental
    stimuli is converted to neural activity for the brain to understand and
    3. “Hermann von Helmholtz is often credited with the first study of visual perception in modern times. Helmholtz examined the human eye and concluded that it was, optically, rather poor. The poor-quality information gathered via the eye seemed to him to make vision impossible. He therefore concluded that vision could only be the result of some form of unconscious inferences: a matter of making assumptions and conclusions from incomplete data, based on previous experiences”.
    The interface system that transmits information from the lens of the eye to the brain processor is really incredible system. Light rays, pigment poles in the retina, chemicals and electric pulses that transmit information to the brain that is absolutely objective.

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