Simulate Another User's Experience for Yourself

More than 1 billion people worldwide 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.  

Empathy 101

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.

Keyboard Compatibility

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.

  1. Click in the browser address bar
  2. Take your hand off your mouse and use only your keyboard
  3. Start tabbing around
  4. Use Shift+Tab to navigate backward
  5. Spacebar activates checkboxes and buttons

What you experience on a particular website may be different for each browser.

Power Users Like Keyboard Commands

5 shortcuts to Becoming a Keyboard Power User

The Power Users Guide to Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

View in Grayscale (monochrome)

Grayscale is a very simplistic view of color perception, but it is a good starting point. Meaning connived by color alone will be missed by many. 

  • 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. Always provide adequate contrast between type and background. 

Test the Quality of the Captioning

Try watching your video, with the closed captioning on. Are you reading what you are hearing? How is the quality? One in 20 Americans is deaf or hard of hearing. Half of those are in the very fast growing over 65 demographic. 

People with standard hearing enjoy the benefits of captioning: 

  • 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 especially important with forms.

Web Accessibility Perspectives: Customizable Text