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Types of Disabilities

As a web developer, over the years I noticed that many websites only focus on accessibility for viewers who are blind. While it is indisputable that viewers who are blind experience the greatest challenges with websites, they are not the only viewer that we should be thinking about when developing an accessible website.

The recommendations on this site take into account viewers with all types of disabilities. These include viewers who have:

  • Visual disabilities such as blindness, low vision or colour blindness. This group can use screen readers, magnifiers or they may need more/different colour contrast.
  • Auditory disabilities such as deafness or hard of hearing. This group can use captioning and sign language.
  • Physical disabilities such as missing limbs, limited use of hands/arms or quadriplegia. This group can use keyboards (without a mouse), mouth sticks, head pointers, voice control or voice recognition systems.
  • Cognitive & neurological disabilities such as dyslexia or ADD. This group can use keyboards (without a mouse), text to speech technologies or they may need different text/contrast.

A few important things to remember:

  • Aging viewers may have disabilities that include any/all of the above.
  • Viewers may have multiple disabilities.
  • Terminology can change and different terms are preferred by some individuals and not others. As well, terminology can vary in different parts of the world. Some people use the term 'impairment', others use the term 'disability' and still others talk about 'abilities'. It is generally agreed that the term 'handicapped' should not be used. Just do your best, try to keep current on terminology and ask the person you are helping, or work with, if you feel unsure about something.