When Accessibility Features Get In the Way

I’ll admit it’s quite the controversial title for a blog entry, but hear me out. Picture the following. You’re idly sitting in front of your keyboard tinkering with either shift keys and all of a sudden you’ve triggered something on your computer. We’re talking Windows here, (any version). What you’ve done is called up keyboard assistant features… and if you’re not careful, you could inadvertently turn them on. This is exactly what one of my friends did recently. Somehow, he did not heed the filter keys warning and activated the feature. Due to its nature and his computer configuration, it made the keyboard totally unusable. A few mouse clicks brought back functionality, but it made him temporarily dead in the water. So, let’s do a bit of preemptive trouble-shooting in order to mitigate such situations on your own rig.


The folks at Microsoft have (thoughtfully) built in some keyboard shortcuts in order to facilitate accessibility and they are enabled by default. Unfortunately, they have connected them to keys that you would think are innocuous and don’t do anything when pressed on their own.

In my case, these are the keys that I tinker with all the time. When I’m thinking, I repeatedly tap the left shift key. I guess I could resort at banging my head, but this is less conspicuous in an office setting. Pushing the left shift key 5 times will trigger the Sticky key function. As this is not useful to me, I need to change this forthwith.

Holding down the right shift key for 8 seconds, another bad behaviour I have, turns on filter keys.


So, if these keyboard assistance functions are not useful to you, do the following:

Within Windows 7 or 8, press WINDOWS+U to launch the Ease of Access,

Tab until you hear, “Make the keyboard easier to use” and press Enter,

Now, go into the setup sticky keys and uncheck its shortcut key, which is the LEFT

SHIFT key.

Press ALT+O to click the okay button,

Next tab to Setup filter keys and press enter

Tab to and uncheck the shortcut key, which is right shift for 8 seconds

Now, press ALT+O to click the okay button. Do not tab to it, or you’ll land into the test area.

You can get out of that bind, but it’s tricky.

Press ALT+O again to close the main configuration window and then alt+f4 to close Ease of access.


So there you have it. Now you can press your SHIFT keys with abandon and not land into trouble.

About mcourcel

I work within the Information Technology industry. More precisely, within the accessibility field. Oddly enough, I'm trying out WordPress to evaluate its ease of use and just to tinker with various topics of my choosing.
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