Web accessibility: Who is affected?

If you’re short on time, here’s the answer: everyone. Yes, web accessibility affects anyone who goes online. If a website is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA compliant, then the website’s usability should also be high-quality. However, people who are affected the most by poor web accessibility are those with disabilities. Below is a quick look at four common disabilities.

An ear with a line going through it.

Auditory

Auditory disabilities include varying degrees of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound. People with mild or moderate hearing loss are commonly described as hard‑of‑hearing, while those with severe or profound hearing loss are described as deaf.

Accessible websites must supplement all audio content with text. Captions and transcripts should be provided for any videos that contain audio, and transcripts are needed for any audio‑only content.

Three cogs

Cognitive

Someone with a cognitive disability may have deficits in memory, attention, problem solving, verbal comprehension, or visual comprehension.

Well-designed websites should be easy to navigate and understand; these qualities benefit all users and significantly improve accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities.

An eye with a line going through it.

Visual

Two categories of visual disabilities are low vision and blindness. Many people with these disabilities use assistive technologies such as screen readers or refreshable Braille devices. Users of these assistive technologies generally do not use a mouse, so keyboard access to web content is essential.

The final category of visual disability that should be considered when designing web content is color blindness. Users with color blindness may view websites in black and white or use customized color schemes that override the native colors of a website.

A computer cursor in the form of a pointing hand.

Motor

Motor disabilities are characterized by mobility and dexterity impairments. People with these disabilities may not be able to use a mouse or keyboard.

There are thousands of assistive technologies available to help people with motor impairments access the web, most of which either work through the keyboard or emulate keyboard functionality.

 

There are many disabilities out there, and people with different disabilities access the Internet in various ways. They encounter different obstacles that impact their access to web content. Additionally, all of us have been situationally disabled at some point in our lives. A situational disability refers to a temporary state leading to an accessibility issue due to your environment. Two examples include:

  • Needing to listen to an audio book on a road trip because you cannot read the pages while driving.
  • Benefiting from automatic sliding doors when you’re carrying too many groceries in your arms to use a door handle.

It is important for website developers to consider their users in their website’s design and implementation. After all, the accessibility (or lack of it) affects everyone using that website. Together, we can make the Internet accessible to all kinds of users.

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