E-mail List Archives

Kinds of disabilities


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Mar 22, 2000 4:38PM

This is another "quick tip" item.
The kinds of disabilities that Web developers generally have to keep in mind
when designing their sites are as follows:
1. Visual impairments
2. Hearing impairments
3. Motor or musculoneural impairments
4. Cognitive impairments
5. And, to a lesser degree (at least at present), voice or speech
It's helpful to know the basic principles that make or break a site's
accessibility with regard to each of these disabilities. I'm going to
present a few broad concepts with regard to visual impairments, with the
hope that it will get people thinking and discussing the topic on the
listserv. At a later point, we'll discuss the other disabilities.
Accessibility Principles with Regard to Visual Impairments:
1. Make sure that every non-textual element has a textual equivalent (e.g.
graphics, scripts, applets, sound files, videos, etc).
2. Make sure that the site is navigable with the keyboard only (no mouse).
3. Provide a means for skipping over long lists of links or ASCII art (this
means "pictures" which can be created with typed characters. An example is
included at the bottom of this email).
4. Create summaries for tables, even if the table is used for visual
formatting purposes only. Example of H.T.M.L. code for a table summary:
<table width="100%" border="0" summary="This table used for visual layout
purposes only">. Summaries are especially important when tables include
tabular data that may be difficult to interpret when a screen reader reads
each cell one at a time.
5. Use relative sizes for fonts, tables and other elements, instead of
absolute sizes (percentages instead of point sizes, for example--this
usually requires cascading style sheets). Relative sizes are usually better
for users with limited vision because it is allows them to enlarge the fonts
or expand the viewing area in most browsers.
These five things are some of the more important items to remember, but
there is more. If you can think of other things, please post your ideas.
Also, in anticipation of the next "topic," post your ideas on what needs to
be done to make a Web site accessible to someone with a hearing impairment.
Lastly, I have included an example of ASCII art (those using screen readers
can ignore this part).
| @ @ |
| |_| |
| ____/ |
I don't know how successful my "art" will be in your email, but it's
supposed to be a smiley face.