How Disabled Users Access The Internet

In 1995 a new era of accessibility for disabled people began. The Disability Discrimination Act was passed, stating that:

"It is unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public."

A website is regarded as a service and the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and DRC (Disability Rights Commission) have been quick to apply pressure on to organisations to push this law into practice. Indeed, the DRC has now published its formal investigation into 1000 websites (http://www.drc-gb.org/publicationsandreports/2.pdf).

So, how do disabled people access the Internet? There are a number of different ways depending on their particular disability:

Blind users

Internet users who have no sight at all utilize a screen reader, which reads the content of the web page, or rather the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) code of the page, back to them. These machines sift through the HTML code and the technology deciphers what needs to be read aloud and what should be ignored. IBM's screen reader can be downloaded for a free 30-day trial at http://www-3.ibm.com/able/solution_offerings/hpr.html. Once you have downloaded it, go to your website, turn your monitor off, and try to navigate your website.

Partial/poor sight

To take full advantage of the Internet, users with partial or poor sight need to be able to enlarge the text on web pages. To verify that your website allows them to achieve this on Internet Explorer, go to View > Font size > Largest. If your site is accessible to this group of users then the size of the text throughout the page will increase. Users with poor vision can also use a screen magnifier. You can download a free screen magnifier at http://www.magnifiers.org/links/Download_Software/Screen_Magnifiers/ and see for yourself.

Colour blindness

It is estimated that one in 12 men and one in 200 women have some form of colour blindness (http://www.iee.org/Policy/Areas/Health/cvdintro.cfm). You can check how Internet users with different strains of colour blindness are viewing your website at http://www.tesspub.com/colours.html.

Deaf users

Deaf users are able to access the Internet in much the same way as able-bodied people with one key exception ? audio content. If it is a key function of your website for people to be able to hear a message, then be sure to provide written transcripts.

Keyboard/voice only users

Some of your site users do not have access to a mouse when browsing the Internet. Try putting yourself in their position by navigating your website using only tab, shift-tab, and the return keys.

Other users

Other people who may access your website that have disadvantages include:

  • Epileptic users who must always be careful to avoid seeing flickering between 2 and 55 Hz

  • Web users from outside your industry who may not understand industry jargon or acronyms

  • Web users whose first language is not English and who may not be able to comprehend complicated language

    To really put yourself in the position of one of these web users try out the DRC's inaccessible website demonstration at www.drc-gb.org/open4all/newsroom/website6.asp.

    About The Author

    This article was written by Trenton Moss. He's crazy about web usability and accessibility - so crazy that he went and started his own web usability and accessibility consultancy (Webcredible - http://www.webcredible.co.uk) to help make the Internet a better place for everyone.

    In The News:

    Bulletin Board  Deccan Herald
    Top 11 Mobile App Development Frameworks  WhaTech Technology and Markets News
    Technology Analyst / Developer  Charlotte Agenda
    Location Features for Mobile Apps  WhaTech Technology and Markets News

  • Develop a Solid Website Presence

    Starting an internet business can be confusing to non-veterans. The... Read More

    Effectively Using Robots Meta Tags

    The "robots" meta tag, when used properly, will tell the... Read More

    Benefits Of An Accessible Website: Part 1 - Increase In Reach

    The DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) states that service providers must... Read More

    Pick Up Your Own Domain Name

    Think up a name and check if yourname.com is available.... Read More

    Free Webmaster Tools - 7 Things Every Webmaster Needs in Their Toolbox

    Webmaster tools are vital to becoming both efficient and effective... Read More

    Three Way Linking - Webmaster Strategy

    Three way linking and concerns.For many years SEO experts were... Read More

    Build a Strong Foundation for Creating Your First Online Identity ? Notes for Beginners

    If you are looking for creating your online presence you... Read More

    Does Your Business Really Need A Website?

    Website, website, website, everyone says you need one. But do... Read More

    Web Designer? You Dont Need No Stinkin Web Designer!

    RIVERSIDE, CA August 4, 2004 ?- "Historically, small business owners... Read More

    Why You Need A Web Site

    "I have a small business with just a couple of... Read More

    Database Driven Web Site - Do You Need It?

    Many of site owners still don't realize all advantages of... Read More

    Is Your Web Site Talking to Your Customer?

    A while ago one of my clients approached me and... Read More

    I Did It: Six Months to a Successful Website

    For years now I've been looking to start my own... Read More

    Beyond Web Usability: Web Credibility

    If you've been developing websites on Mars for the past... Read More

    Freelance Programming is Easy to Manage

    There are several reverse bid freelance sites out there. Beyond... Read More

    You Dont Know Which One

    I still remember it very clear ... It was almost... Read More

    New Years Resolutions: Is Improving Your Website One of Them?

    With the New Year upon us yet again, it's time... Read More

    Why You Really Need Your Own Web Page In-order To Make Online Business!

    How many Web Sites did you stumble over telling you... Read More

    What ROI You Should Expect From Your Web Site

    Is Your Web Site an Expense or an Investment?Why don't... Read More

    Get to Know People through Websites

    Web sites are not just places to sell things; they... Read More

    Non-Profits: Successful Online Strategies

    More and more non-profit organizations are developing websites to help... Read More

    You Don?t Have to be Amazon.com to Achieve 12% Conversion Rates!

    That's right. According to a recent study by Nielsen/NetRatings, Amazon.com... Read More

    How Web Templates Are Helping Online Businesses to MultiplyTheir Income

    Web templates by nature are created to aid and ease... Read More

    HTML Editors 101 - Smaller Is Better

    SiteSpinnerSiteSpinner is a user-friendly web site development tool that includes... Read More

    Guide to Internet Business - Design and Content

    After deciding what kind of internet business you want to... Read More