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1.2 Disabilities to Keep in Mind

In this lesson we’ll be covering the most common disabilities to keep in mind: vision, hearing, physical, and cognitive. Each of the four small sections will explain what the disability is and how it affects people’s use of the web.

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1.2 Disabilities to Keep in Mind

John Hartley with Tuts+ here. And in this lesson, we'll be taking a look at the most common disability, which is blindness, vision impairment and low vision. This could range from total blindness to legally blind, nearsighted or someone with an ocular disease like glaucoma or cataracts. The legal definition of blindness is vision that is less than or equal to 2,200. In the United States alone, there are roughly 8.1 million people that are visually impaired and of those 2 million are totally blind. Users with a vision disability generally, rely on assistive technologies like screen readers to navigate through the page. So for this disability, think to yourself, if someone can't see my site, will they still be able to understand the content on my page? A user with low vision is classified as anyone who must adjust the settings for the monitor to use the computer, but is not using a screen reader. For these types of users, it's common to increase the font size. So possibly bump it up to 150 or 200% the normal size, which means the entire site should grow without breaking. Color contrasts though, between the foreground and background should be as high as possible. This includes all text, as well as text on images. Keeping a focus style on your site is very important. This allows an element to be highlighted and helps the user know where they are on the page. Most important images to optimize are those that convey significant information to the user. So maps, graphs and images with text especially. Next, let's look at hearing disabilities. If someone comes to your site and you have one of those videos where someone walks out on the screen and starts talking, will someone that is unable to hear the audio be able to understand what is going on? Audio accessibility is more than making websites accessible for the profoundly deaf. This also covers those who are partially deaf and those that wear hearing aids. Subtitles are more than simply putting the text beneath an image. Sounds, cues, brought by musical shifts or tone should be included as well. When creating captions, avoid all caps, if possible. Colors should be highly readable, audio alerts need visual accompaniment. And if a sound is vital to features, a visual of some sort is needed as well. Physical disabilities where a user is unable to use a mouse or can only use the keyboard, which could be quadriplegia, loss of fine motor skills, anyone who would have trouble with just normally moving a mouse around and navigating through your website in that fashion. Even someone with just a broken arm and in a sling or in a cast may be unable to use your site by just using the mouse. So, are there spots on your site where precise clicks are necessary, or the user must press two keys at the same time? If so, you may want to think about these types of users that may use eye tracking devices, keyboard only inputs, one-handed keyboards or even special mice. In cases, semantic mark-up is extremely important. Pop-up modals, for instance, should be easy to back out of by just pressing the Escape key. Interactive length should have large target areas, making it easier to click for site timers. So if there's a time to vent on your page, triple the average user time is best practiced to make sure those with lost fine motor skills aren't excluded from your website. They may not be able to perform as quickly as full mouse capabilities. The last major disability we'll cover is Cognitive Disabilities. This could include ADHD, users with mild to severe dyslexia or information processing disorder. For dyslexic users, Sans Serif fonts are easier to read and font phases like Comic Sans While the brunt of many jokes are easier to read, because each character is unique. Many users with dyslexia will opt for style sheet injection extensions that allow them to swap out styles, making content easier to consume. Another consideration for users with cognitive disabilities is to make sure your content isn't too difficult to understand. Shorter sentences of 10 to 15 words are generally best and shorter paragraphs are easier to focus on. Also, try to avoid using text align justify as it can create rivers or long lines of space between words. And I'll go over some more of the ins and outs of how to improve portions of your site for these types of disabilities, but simply being conscious of the types of users that may have trouble with your site will help improve your sites overall accessibility. In the next lesson, we'll take a look at AA Compliance and what that means in regards to your website.