Teaching People How To Enlarge Web Pages: Task Definition

Many people need to enlarge Web pages to better see information. People with cognitive disabilities often require larger text sizes to better comprehend information as well.

To develop a best practice for teaching a Web page (text) enlargement skill, I will conduct in-person teaching to groups of people with cognitive disabilities. Specifically, I intend to teach people to use a keyboard with a Web browser to enlarge Web pages. Many browsers will enlarge pages in response to the pressing of two keys: the plus key and the Control key (IBM) / Command key (Mac).

Functional Objective

Given a Web page that may contain images, but must contain text, learners will press two keys to enlarge page content.

Outcome Measure

Learners will open a novel Web page and, without instruction or prompting, enlarge its contents.

Component Skills To Be Taught

Pressing Keys

Learners will:

  • locate the correct keys (2)
  • hold-down one key for at least 3 seconds with sufficient force to be recognized by the computer
  • hold down the one key and tap the other key by pressing it with sufficient force to be recognized by the computer, and immediately releasing it

Completing Sequential Steps

Learners will:

  • follow a multi-step chain of behaviors
  • identify the start- and end points of the behavior chain
  • repeat the behavior chain


Learners must be able to:

  • respond to textual-, auditory- and/or video-based instruction
  • press keys with their fingers or with equivalent assistive-technology
  • press the correct keys only
  • open a Web page with Internet Explorer

Computers must be:

  • IBM-compatible
  • attached to a monitor and a keyboard or equivalent assistive-technology
  • using Internet Explorer as the default Web browser
  • connected to the Internet


4 thoughts on “Teaching People How To Enlarge Web Pages: Task Definition

  1. Hi — I’m not denying the value of increasing the size of content, but won’t this mean that users may have to scroll to see everything on the page, which is also a cognitive challenge? Sorry if I don’t understand what you’re after….

    1. Thank you for your question. Your point is a good one.

      Whether people enlarge an entire page or just the text of it (my specific goal), scrolling may be needed. I don’t know how to mitigate that problem. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

  2. John and Jim, I suggest you try this method with a variety of websites. I’m not sure of the difference in coding that creates this difference in behavior, but I’ve noticed that not all websites get wider than my monitor. Some never get wider, whereas others do — and, at some point, these sites get wider than my monitor. Then I do have to scroll in two directions to follow the content. So is it having to scroll at all that you perceive as a cognitive challenge, or having to scroll in two directions?

    John, why are you restricting the users to Internet Explorer and Windows? Every browser I’ve used supports this technique regardless of operating system.

    I *am* really interested to know the outcome of this study. The question of how hard it is to get people to understand that they can increase font size with two keys on their keyboard has come up in a number of discussions I’ve been in. As usual, we all have our own firmly held opinions, but none of us have any data.

    1. Thank you for your comments, questions and interest.

      I don’t know that vertical scrolling is a cognitive challenge. I expect it may be, but perhaps not as much as horizontal scrolling would be to view the contents of an enlarged Web page. At this point, I have no plans to address and/or to teach scrolling skills.

      About the teaching of page (text) enlargement, I am not restricting users to Internet Explorer and Windows. However, the most economical approach is to so restrict in-person- or Web-based training. The good news is that, even with that restriction, I expect the acquired skills will be easily generalized to other Web browsers (e.g., Firefox and Safari) and the Mac platform. The two-key combination is ubiquitous.

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