Categories of Disabilities

Web accessibility is not limited to visual disabilities. It involves all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities:

  • Visual: Blindness, low vision, color-blindness
  • Auditory: Deafness and hard-of-hearing
  • Physical: Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
  • Cognitive: Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

Each category requires certain types of adaptations in the design of web content. Everyone, not just people with disabilities, benefits from helpful illustrations, properly-organized content, and clear navigation. Similarly, while captions are a necessity for deaf users, they can be helpful to others, including anyone who views a video without audio.

Assistive Technologies

For people with disabilities, various means of assistive technologies exist to aid in their accessing of digital information. These assistive technologies include the following:

  • screen reading software
  • magnification software
  • speech recognition software
  • alternative input devices
  • refreshable braille displays

Visual Impairment

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Visual

This includes, but is not limited to, blindness, low vision, and color-blindness. It is not just solely if someone can see the content, it is also that the content transitions well from section to section. This transitioning includes appropriate differentiation of font colors, as well as appropriate use of typeface headings. It is important to note, these headings are NOT a decorative element. Rather, they serve a purpose to help the content flow and make sense. This becomes ever more important when being dictated through assistive technologies such as screen readers.

Auditory Impairment

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Auditory

This includes, but is not limited to, deafness and hard-of-hearing.  

Physical Impairment

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Physical

This includes, but is not limited to, inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control.  

Cognitive Impairment

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Cognitive

This includes, but is not limited to, learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information.

Video Resources

Experiences of Students with Disabilities

The students in the following video share some of their experiences with the web and accessibility.

Keeping Web Accessibility In Mind

Gain an appreciation of web accessibility by understanding the user perspective with this overview of the difficulties users with disabilities face on the web and some of the motivations for web accessibility.