The Cost of Horizontal Scrolling

Session Evaluation

Class description

People sitting in a training session listening to a presenter.
People sitting in a training session listening to a presenter.

For years the treatment of preference for children and older adults with low vision has been to put a screen magnifier in their hands, and train them to read text without word wrapping. Problem solved. When someone complained they were dismissed as outliers or too lazy to learn how to use the package efficiently. I know, I have been shamed in all those ways and more.

If you have low vision and do not really like zooming text right off the side of the page, take comfort. The  problem is not you, the problem is enlargement without word wrapping. It is highly unreasonable accommodation. Putting text on a page without word wrapping is a barrier to reading at all font sizes.

This class will look at two forms of text enlargement: ZOOM, simple geometric enlargement without wrapping, and WRAP, enlargement of text with word wrapping. After doing a careful analysis of the processes we see that reading a single 8 1/2 x 11 inch page of text using a lens (hand held or virtual)  will take 90 or more scrolls at a minimum. Full-screen ZOOM gives similar results. In fact any format for ZOOM  will yield the same results. WRAP is much more efficient. A two column page at a standard 12 point size will require twice as many scrolls at 300% with ZOOM than it will at 700% with word wrap.

Cheer up. If you have low vision, stop thinking you are crazy or lazy because you cannot use ZOOM. The  problem is ZOOM not you.

If having to read an article with ZOOM makes you weary, you’re right in your discomfort. It’s going to take you 7 to 50 times more work than if you had word wrapping.


Wayne Dick


May 17th, 2017


4:00 pm-5:30 pm

Class level


Class type



Design & Usability



Take Aways

Learn about the two forms of text enlargement: ZOOM and WRAP.


Room TH 216

Session Evaluation

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