Thursday, May 16th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! Here at Digital Mountaineers, we believe everyone should have equal access to information. Complete inclusion of the differently abled needs to be a priority for businesses of all sizes & industries. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is required under US law.
Disabilities That Limit People’s Use of Technology
Government statistics find that about 61 million adults, or 1 in 4 people over the age of 18, have a significant disability that affects at least one or more areas of their daily life. Many of these disabilities that adults have limited or stop them from making the full use of computers that the rest of us take for granted every day.
Some of the following disabilities are those that may affect someone’s ability to use a computer in the way that the rest of us do every day:
Those with affected/missing limbs will find it challenging to use a computer if they are not able to type and otherwise use the computer as easily as individuals with all of their limbs in working order. There are currently about 2 million people throughout the US with a prosthetic limb including those who are missing part of a limb. Approximately 185,000 amputations are done in the US annually, and many of those limbs get replaced by prosthetics.
People who are paralyzed or have limited or no use of one or more limbs will find it difficult to access technology as easily as their non-paralyzed peers. Approximately 5.6 million Americans experience paralysis to some extent, which accounts for about 1.9% of the population (roughly 1 in 50 Americans). Any degree of paralysis can make accessing technology more difficult for those experiencing the paralysis, which means even tasks such as using a computer can become downright daunting.
Conditions That Affect Muscular Control
Many Americans experience different disabilities that affect their ability to control their muscle control. Some such conditions include Parkinson’s, MS, muscular dystrophies, or Cerebral Palsy. About 60,000 American adults are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year while another almost 1 million Americans live with MS-related conditions. Another 50,000 or more Americans live with muscular dystrophy, and Cerebral Palsy affects approximately 50,000 Americans. Not having the fine-motor skills to use computers can make accessing technology very challenging if not impossible for those who have various muscular conditions.
Visual Impairments That Limit People’s Use of Technology
Another category of disabilities that can cause people challenges using technology would be any visual impairment that makes seeing screens harder for the person. There are about 18.3 million Americans who have reported having severe. The following are some of the visual impairments that can cause issues for people when they are trying to use technology:
Color blindness affects about 10% of all males in the United States to some degree, and about 1% of all females experience some degree of color-blindness. Color blindness can pose a problem when the most form of technology come in color displays which colorblind people have a hard time differentiating as they cannot tell which colors are which. Any form of color blindness can make technology a challenge to utilize which is why color ratios on websites are so important for accessibility.
Partial Sightedness applies to anyone who has between 20/70 and 20/200 vision with corrective lenses. These people generally have a restricted field of vision that gives them a field of vision that is less than 20 degrees wide. Having a narrow or limited field of vision can make using technology challenging, especially if you cannot see the entire screen or display at one time. Not being able to read the print on the screen can make using this technology equally as challenging for those who are partially sighted.
Full Sight-Loss is the most commonly spoken condition when people think of the term “blind.” Approximately 1 million Americans are fully blind, which can make accessing technology challenging. Often, the only way around being able to use technology is for them to use voice-automated computer programs (most often screen readers) that allow them to respond with vocal commands rather than requiring them to see things on a screen so they can react to them.
While ADA applies to all websites, it may be of particular concern to large businesses as well as all public entities (e.g. public transit companies, school districts, official town/city websites, etc.). There has been a cascade of web accessibility lawsuits in the past few years dealing with the part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that applies to websites.
How Digital Mountaineers Helps
While there are a variety of disabilities that inhibit one’s use of technology, technology is becoming more diverse and finding ways to work around those disabilities. These types of technologies include auditory listening for those who might be visually impaired or voice-activated technology for those who have a missing limb. As we continue to branch out with technology, we can help more people get access to the technology that makes modern life easier.
Digital Mountaineers designs, codes, and develops websites that are compatible with software and screen readers that enable those with limited visual or physical ability to have full access. Read more about how Digital Mountaineers can help your company achieve a fully accessible website here.