An Introduction to Accessibility in Digital World.

The basic meaning of Accessibility is “the quality of a product due to which it can be usable and accessible to all users irrespective of their disability”.

As per the report by WHO (World Health Organization) about 15% of the population affected by some form of disability in the World. There is a certain increase in this data due to the aging factor and the increase in chronic diseases. And the most important thing the technology or methodology to identify the disability in an individual.

Accessibility in Digital World.

Disability categories

The most common type of disability is hearing and visual impairment. Although there are many types of disability present all over the world. Few are mentioned below:

Disability Category Sub Category
Visual Disabilitiesa. Colorblindness
b. Blindness
c. Low vision/partial vision
Auditory Disabilitiesa. Deafness
b. Hard-of-hearing
Mobility, Flexibility, and Body Structure Disabilitiesa. Manual dexterity/fine motor control
b. Ambulation
c. Muscle fatigue
d. Body size
e. Body shape and form
Cognitive Disabilitiesa. Intellectual
b. Memory
c. Reading
d. Math comprehension
e. Dyslexia
f. Language
Speech Disabilitiesa. No speech
b. Articulation
Seizure Disabilitya. Photosensitive
b. General seizure disorders
Psychological/Psychiatric Disabilitiesa. Social
b. Emotional
c. Behavioral
Multiple/Compound DisabilitiesDeafblindness

While developing or manufacturing any product one should consider the accessibility guidelines related to their target users.

Manufacturing or Building Accessible Products/Premises

Suppose, we are going to manufacture any product or building any infrastructure then we have to follow certain design guidelines, need to provide basic features, take care of the needs of the normal users. For example,

  • Providing electricity, lift, stairs, water, etc.
  • Providing parking, emergency facilities, security, etc.
  • The requirement of the product, usage of the product, etc.
  • How all the above components will be associated with each other?
  • Make it cost-effective to the end-user.

In the same way, if we want to make our product accessible we have to follow accessibility design guidelines additionally, we have to understand the requirement and process of our target users(people with disabilities). These could be like:

  • Use of Tactile paving or a textured surface ground for visually impaired pedestrians.
Tactile paving on a side walk.
Tactile paving
  • Use of Braille words for lift buttons, doorbells, room numbers, etc for visually impaired people.
Button with Braille words.
Button with Braille words
  • Use of Braile words for the price, expiry dates, product name, etc for visually impaired people.
  • Specially designed lifts, stairs, and toilets for wheelchair users with additional space.
Stairs for Wheelchairs
Stairs for Wheelchairs

Developing Digital Accessible Content

When we talk about Digital Accessible Content. It will be more difficult to make a single version of the product for users with different types of disabilities. For example, we have developed an ebook for Grade 10 to 12. Our target users may be like:

  • Users with low vision
  • Users with color blindness
  • Completely visually impaired users
  • Users with auditory disabilities
  • Users with cognitive disabilities like Dyslexia, Language understanding, Reading disabilities, etc.

To make a product accessible to all the above-mentioned users, we have to design and code the product to make compatible with a different type of Assistive Technologies. A few are mentioned below:

Disability type Assistive Technology/Methodology Examples
Visually ImpairedScreen ReadersNVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver, Talkback
Low VisionMagnifier, High Contrast colorsTo increase font size. Use a color combination of foreground and background should be as per design guidelines.
Color BlindnessContent DesignAvoid specific colors which are not useful for the users having color blindness.
Auditory DisabilitiesContent-based informationImplementing captions and audio description for video/audio content
Cognitive DisabilityContent DesignThe content should be easy to understand and with examples.
Mobility DisabilitiesText to SpeechUsers can read and hear the content.
Deaf and Visually ImpairedBraille DevicesGive input using Braille Keyboard and get output via Braille Printers etc.

Screen Readers

As the name depicts a screen reader is application software that is used to read the elements/contents present on the screen. These screen readers are used by the visually impaired or the people who have less reading capability.

There are different types of screen readers present based on the operating system, browser, and devices. The standard combination of these configurations are mentioned below:

Operating System Browser NameScreen Reader
Windows 10FirefoxNVDA
Windows 10ChromeJAWS
MAC OSXSafariVoiceOver

Screen Reader Features

  1. Easy to use: All these screen readers are user-friendly and easy to learn. There a couple of keys using which users can navigate the entire screen. Few useful keys are mentioned below:
    • Up/Down Arrow: To navigate screen top to bottom or bottom to top.
    • Tab Key: To navigate through interactive elements.
    • Space or Enter: To activate any clickable or selectable element.
    • Swipe: To navigate through the screen on devices.
    • Double Tap: To activate any clickable of selectable elements on devices.
  2. Keyboard shortcuts: There are some keyboard shortcuts also available which are used to navigate the screen.
    • H: To navigate through all the Heading levels.
    • K: To navigate through all the Links.
    • T: To navigate through all the tables.
  3. User Instructions: While navigating the screen, the screen reader tells the user about the each element. Which makes the user comfortable with the technology and helped him to get understand the context.
    • Element Type: Tells that the current element is a link, button, text field, radio button, checkbox, etc.
    • State: Tells about the current state of element like visited link, selected radio button, toggle button on, etc.
    • Live content: It also tells the user if there is any live content or run time pop-up content is appears on the screen.

1 thought on “An Introduction to Accessibility in Digital World.”

  1. This is very nice regarding the accessibility. Unfortunately the design of a web sight or sent information is the problem. Important documents if not sent in a format that the reading Technology Can use make all the wonderful tech worthless. You end up getting a screen reader to say: picture, picture etc.

    The education or equal access to information, including gov’t docs does not seem to be taught or is totally ignored.

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            Ashok Kumar is working in an IT Company as a QA Consultant. He has started his career as a Test Trainee in manual testing in August 2010. Then he moves towards the automation testing after 4 years. He started learning JAVA and Selenium by self to get the knowledge of automation.

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