Web Accessibility for People with Other Disabilities

Letters

Web accessibility for people with a mobility disability is often overlooked. The world wide web has dramatically changed lives for the better for most people with a mobility disability, however, having this type of disability can pose a number of challenges in accessing the web. Many access the web without any difficulties but people who cannot use their hands, have problems with controlling fine motor skills, have involuntary or uncontrolled movements such as tremor for instance, etc. often either have to use specially designed technology such as joysticks and head tracking systems to be able to surf the web or do most of the browsing with the keyboard because they are having difficulties controlling precise mouse movements.

When potential challenges of web accessibility for people with a mobility disability are considered, creating a new or improving the existing website in a way to make it fully accessible for disabled people is a relatively easy process. The most important of all, however, is to make the website easy to navigate with the keyboard, create large clickable links to allow the use of mouse to people who cannot use it with such precision as non-disabled people and pay attention to alternative and assistant technologies that are commonly used to browse the web. The ability to easily print with large buttons or voice activated functions can make a huge difference.

People who have epilepsy are not hindered by their condition in accessing the web. However, most of them are sensitive to flashing effects especially to flashes at frequency between 5Hz and 45Hz. As a result, they may be forced to avoid accessing particular websites. To make a website safe for people with epilepsy, the flashing effects should be avoided completely or made optional. This will allow people with epilepsy to turn off flashing effects and browse the website without risking a seizure.

The last category of disabled people who often face challenges in accessing the web are individuals with a cognitive/intellectual disability. They form the largest group of disabled people with difficulties in web accessibility, however, their needs are also most commonly overlooked. Many people with a cognitive/intellectual disability live a normal or nearly normal live and use the web to see the news, weather, connect with other people through social networking websites, etc. just like everyone else. However, some have difficulties understanding the content or communicated information due to their disability which can involve their memory, attention, problem solving, learning, etc. But since cognitive/intellectual disability encompasses a broad range of disabilities, creating a website which is easily understood and navigated by people with this type of disability may appear challenging. However, it is not as difficult as it may seem at a first glance.

To make a website friendly for people with a cognitive/intellectual disability, it should be as user friendly as possible which in practice means easy readability, good colour contrast, short paragraphs, clear distinction between different types of content, clear and easy to use navigation, etc. pretty much the same that is also appreciated by non-disabled users.