digital media access group
...excellent accessibility research and consultancy
This is a archived version of the DMAG website, but the information remains for reference. Please visit the new website for updated information.
You help to improve the quality of life for millions of disabled users by allowing them to access your information along with everyone else. The Web is the best way yet of providing equal access for all - it's just that so many web designers don't take this into consideration when creating their sites.
Who are Disabled Users?
Many people equate being disabled with being in a wheelchair. But in Web terms, this is not necessarily a disability - most wheelchair bound users can access web sites without any difficulty.
Disabilities or conditions which are most likely to affect web access include:
- Visual impairment exists on a wide range, from the legally
blind to the colourblind and tunnel
vision sufferers, and many in between.
Since the Web is a highly visual medium, these users are most likely to be affected.
- These users are likely to have great difficulty reading a web page
on screen. They may also have problems entering information correctly,
such as querying search facilities.
There are many design features which can be incorporated to improve access to dyslexic users, such as clear and logical structuring of information.
- Motor Disabilities
- In a web context, users may have difficulty, or be unable to, operate a mouse, due to a tremor, or non-functioning or loss of a hand/arm. Keyboard-only operation of the web site is essential for such users - even if they can't type, other assistive technologies could be used to navigate and input information.
- Cognitive Disabilities or impairments
- This is perhaps the widest-ranging group. Disabilities might include those which affect faculties such as memory recall, text recognition and comprehension and interpretation.
Some disabilities are permanent while others are temporary, lasting from minutes to years. Even a hangover might be considered a temporary disability.
Important- as usage of the web increases, more and more people of an intelligence level different to that of a PhD graduate in Computer Science will be going on-line. This means that usability will have to be improved, and basic assumptions and expectations of users' skills lowered. After all, as respected usability expert Jakob Nielsen says: "all the geeks have been on-line for years"
Some facts to consider
In the developed world:
- 10-20% of the population have some form of disability
- In 2000, 10% of the population was over 80 years old
- Advances in medical care is increasing survival rates, so the number of elderly people and people with disabilities will increase
In the UK in 2003:
- there were an estimated 369,712 visually impaired people (approximately 1 in 165)
- including 190,134 registered blind (approximately 1 in 320)