‘Users with Disabilities’ May Include You

I’ve always thought “disabled”, “handicapped”, “differently able” and the like were inaccurate descriptions for the group of folks the accessibility guidelines are working to help.

Not only are there millions of people that we traditionally think of, such as blind and paralyzed folks, who have enough to deal with in their life without being cut off from the Internet too.

Many of Us Could Use Accommodations

But we’re also talking about folks like:

  • Adults with older eyes, who can’t see small type well
  • Anyone who’s color-blind (more than 15% of the population)
  • Someone who’s broken their arm and can’t use it for a few weeks
  • People who have:
    • trouble distinguishing low color-contrast combinations (e.g., light gray text on a white background)
    • concentration or attention difficulties
    • dyslexia or other learning disabilities
    • hearing issues
    • difficulty making precise or quick mouse movements
    • Asperger or other autism spectrum disorders
    • any type of seizure disorder that could be affected by flashing imagery

The full list makes you realize that many people you know—perhaps even you—could be included, people you’d never think of as “disabled” (the word makes me think of a machine that’s been unplugged.) And all these people are accommodated by the WCAG 2.0 rules we use to make web pages more accessible.

Do Well by Doing Good

So by implementing accessibility guidelines in your content work, you’ll help people with both mild and more life-altering impairments gain access to your ideas. If it’s not worth doing just to be nice to these folks, do it to increase your user base. The folks in the groups above represent many millions of people, and if your content is among the little they can actually use, they will be a lot more likely to appreciate you and use your services.