Disabilities and Computer Use
While not all disabilities impact online activities, many can create difficulties for the user if materials are not designed to be accessible. Digital use can be affected by:
There are several types of vision issues that can affect computer use:
People who are blind cannot see the screen, can’t use a mouse and must rely on a screen reader to convey information to the user. If materials are not ordered and labeled correctly, it can be difficult or impossible to make sense of the information or to navigate across the site.
People who have low vision often find it difficult to read small text or images and struggle to see information on pages with low contrast. Additionally, they often use screen magnifiers which get very confused if text doesn’t scroll or wrap properly.
People who are colorblind may not be able to distinguish between colors on a page. Therefore, it is important to not use color as the only indicator of importance
People who are deaf or hard of hearing may be unable to understand a video or recorded (or live) lecture without captioning or a transcript.
Fine Motor Skills Impairments
People with find motor function may struggle to click on small buttons or links and may be unable to use drop-down or scrolling menus that move too quickly. Make sure that there are multiple means of navigation and that moving menus can be frozen and adapt to the user’s needs.
Cognitive and Learning Disabilities
Those with cognitive or learning disabilities (including reading disabilities like dyslexia) may be distracted or find it hard to focus on busy or text rich pages. It is also important to make sure that the text is understandable for all readers and does not unnecessarily use jargon, lingo or multisyllabic words.
Blinking or flashing graphics or overly intense pages can cause seizures or other disturbances of the brain.
As people age, they start to experience diminished performance with hearing, sight, motor and cognitive functions.
Any combination of the above
Many disabilities are complex and affect more than one area. For those with multiple disabilities, this just multiplies the obstacles faced by inaccessible materials.