More than 1 billion people world wide have a disability, which means your design decisions will potentially affect one out of every seven people. Knowing how they navigate and interact with the internet will allow you to make good design decisions – decisions which will allow them to fully experience your site.
Here are some very simple things you can try that may help you to understand what the someone using your site with assistive technology experiences. You may pick up a few new productivity tricks.
Keyboards are often the common denominator. Screen Readers, both Voice and Braille, as well as many other assistive devices are dependent on keyboard functions. Make interactivity and navigation elements easily accessible by tabbing.
Navigate with Only Your Keyboard
Give up your mouse and navigate with only your keyboard. You should be able to get around and interact completely with just the keyboard on a website.
- Click in the browser address bar
- Take your hand off your mouse and use only your keyboard
- Start tabbing around
- Use Shift+Tab to navigate backwards
- Space bar activates checkboxes and buttons
What you experience on a particular website may be different for each browser.
Power Users Like Keyboard Commands
View in Grayscale (monochrome)
Grayscale is a very simplistic view of color perception, but it is a good starting point. If meaning is only connived through color, many will miss it.
- To look at web pages one at a time, use the Spur tool
- In Apple OSX go to System Preferences>Accessibility>Display and check the box labeled “Use Grayscale”
- On a PC use your monitor color menu and reduce color, it will not turn completely black & white but some effect will be there
Color Blindness/Deficiencies and Perception
There are several types of color deficiencies affecting about 8% of the Male population (about 2% for women). Shapes, textures and contrast can be used in conjunction with color so all can get the message. The important thing to remember is do not convey meaning only through color and always provide adequate contrast.
Turn Off the Sound
Watch a video, with sound off and closed captioning on. Are you getting the same information?
One in 20 Americans are deaf or hard of hearing. Half of those are in the very fast growing over 65 demographic.
Many people with standard hearing enjoy the benefits of captioning too:
- Increases comprehension of dialogue that is spoken very quickly, with accents, mumbling, or background noise
- Clarity for full names, medical terminology, etc.
- Helps maintain concentration
- Easier to follow along with the speech for english as a second language viewers
- Viewing in sound-sensitive environments, such as libraries and public spaces.
Test Content Scaling
With the Font enlarged, zoomed in or with the window resized is the page content readable and usable? Is relevant information close enough together to give context? This is especial important with forms.