Universal Design

Keeping Web Accessibility in Mind

Gain an appreciation of web accessibility by understanding the user perspective. This 11.5 minute video provides an overview of the difficulties users with disabilities face on the web and some of the motivations for web accessibility. Full Video Link

36 million people have at least one disability, about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.


Over 6.5 million people with visual disabilities

  • Blindness
  • Low vision – Macular degeneration, glaucoma, aging
  • Color blindness
  • Situational: Screen magnification on smart phones

Examples and simulators: Vischeck and the Chrome NoCoffee Vision Simulator

WebAIM Survey of Users with Low Vision Results 

Most problematic:

  1. Complex page layouts
  2. Content that becomes unreadable when enlarged
  3. Poor contrast
  4. CAPTCHA – images presenting text used to verify that you are a human user
  5. Pop-up windows or dialog boxes
  6. Complex or difficult forms
  7. Too many links or navigation items
  8. Missing or improper headings
  9. Poor keyboard accessibility

Implication for web design: screenreaders must be able to speak content, sufficient contrast, information not dependent on color alone

Motor/Physical Conditions

2.5 million can’t grasp or handle small objects

  • Paralysis
  • Tremor
  • Loss or damage of limb(s)
  • Cerebral palsy, Muscular dystrophy, Multiple sclerosis
  • Situational: using a mobile device to access web

Implication for web design: Content needs to be keyboard, voice or alternate device accessible

Auditory Hearing Loss

10.2 million people have hearing loss

Situational: Watching TV in gym with no sound

Implication for web design: Transcripts need to be provided for all audio content and captions for video content

Cognitive/Learning Learning Disabilities

4.3% of adults have a cognitive or learning disability

  • Brain Injury
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Situational: International readers

Implication for Web Design: Consistent navigation, high contrast, well organized content

Statistics are estimates and US based: Sources: US Census 2011