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How people with disabilities use the web
Do you know according to WHO, Over 1 billion people live with some form of disability?
Yes, you read it correct, over 1 billion people 🤯
I feel it is our duty to make our websites accessible to people with various disabilities.
To make our websites accessible and create better UX for all, we need to first understand what are those disabilities and learn how people with those disabilities consume the web content.
Let's understand 5 major categories of disabilities and how people with those disabilities consume the web content.
1. Auditory Disabilities
Auditory disabilities range from mild to moderate hearing loss in one or both ears to substantial hearing loss in both ears.
According to WHO, over 430 million people have some kind of auditory disability.
How people with auditory disabilities use the web?
To consume web content, people with auditory disabilities:
- read, write and navigate web content normally
- read captions in the video
- read the transcript for the audio
- frequently use pause/play buttons in the media player to read captions or transcripts
2. Visual Disabilities
Visual disabilities includes:
- low vision in one or both the eyes
- mild to severe vision loss
- total blindness in both the eyes
- color blindness (e.g. difficulty in distinguishing between red and green colors, yellow and blue colors, or total color blindness)
According to WHO, over 200 million people have moderate to severe vision impairment or blindness and around 826 million people have near vision impairment.
How people with visual disabilities use the web?
To consume web content, people with visual disabilities:
- Use text-to-speech tools such as screen readers
- Usually use the keyboard to navigate
- Adjust font size
- Adjust color contrast and brightness level
- Adjust the zoom level
3. Physical Disabilities
Physical disabilities includes:
- weakness/pain in joints/muscles/bones
- limitation of muscular control (e.g. partial or total paralysis)
- involuntary muscular movement (e.g Tremor)
- missing fingers, limbs, or any other parts of the human body
How people with physical disabilities use the web?
To consume web content, people with physical disabilities:
- Use special tools/devices such as ergonomic keyboard/mouse, head pointer, mouth stick, etc. to navigate/write web content
- Often navigate web content using physical/virtual keyboard
- Use voice commands, eye-tracking for hands-free interaction
4. Cognitive, Learning, and Neurological Disabilities
These disabilities affect how well a person can speak, hear, read, understand or move.
Examples of these disabilities:
- ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Dyspraxia (a disorder of movement and coordination)
- Dyslexia (learning disorder)
- Multiple sclerosis etc.
How people with cognitive, learning, and neurological disabilities use the web?
To consume web content, people with such disabilities:
- Use text-to-speech software which highlights every word while speaking
- Read captions while hearing information
- Use spellchecker and error correction software
- Use search functionality with auto-suggest
- Use alternative CAPTCHA options
5. Speech Disabilities
It includes conditions that affect the ability of a person to clearly communicate with others.
Examples of Speed Disabilities:
- Stuttering (repetition, prolongations, blockage of some words/sounds)
- Muteness (Inability to speak)
- Dysarthria (difficulty in speaking due to muscle weakness of a person's face, lips, tongue, throat), etc.
How people with speech disabilities use the web?
To consume web content, people with speech disabilities:
- Read, write and navigate web content normally
- Use text-based chat options to interact with people
In this article we took overview about 5 major categories of disabilities and how people with those disabilities use the web content.
Though it is better to keep in mind that some people experience more than one type of disabilities at a time.
Also, many times people do not have permanent disabilities but they experience such disabilities due to accident, aging, illness, disease etc.
So, to make web content accessible to all, we should implement:
- keyboard friendliness
- captions and transcripts for video/audio
- layout responsiveness to zoom/font-size
- proper color contrast
- simple navigation menus
- semantic HTML code (needed for assistive technologies) etc.
Hope this article has helped you in seeing a new perspective about using the web content and why it is necessary to make our web content accessible.