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#CauseAChatter Digital Accessibility, What Is The Need?

Accessibility is not new. Braille was invented in 1824 so that visually impaired people can read and it was the first significant efforts toward accessibility. But when Braille was invented by Louis Braille, a Frenchman who lost his sight as a result of a childhood accident, no one had ever thought that the future will be the technology era. Today we are internet age people. Every single information and option is available on the internet and just one click away. Be it related to studies, entertainment, policies, shopping or work. If we notice, our lives are very much aligned with the internet these days. Isn't it? 

Digital Accessibility, What Is The Need
Typically, we use devices like a desktop, laptop or a mobile phone to exercise service that the internet provide us. And for the ease of use, we also have keyboards and mouse to get things done fast. Unfortunately, not all the people around the globe are capable of accessing the web by using a mouse and keyboard. Why? Because they have one or other type of disability. Some can't see, a few can't hear and others can't use their hands just like we do to use our phones and laptops. 

For disable people also, the world wide web (WWW) is a window of unlimited information and opportunities. However, they don't find it as easy as we do. Hence, with new age technology, there are software and tools made to fill this gap. For example, screen reader is a software that can read what is there on any web page or in a digital document. Thus it helps people with vision disabilities. We also have special keyboards, screen enlargement applications, closed captioning tools, voice command apps, and many others to work around their challenges. However, there are still hurdles to cross! 

The web is by default accessible. But designers, developers, makers of website and apps need to make sure they are using the right kind of tags and properties to make the web page/digital information accessible. The classic case of a non-accessible website is, if it can be accessed ONLY with a mouse. There is no way someone can access it using a keyboard. In such cases, a person who has a motor disability will not be able to use the website. Similarly, if one is supposed to give voice input as in the form of username to login into any secure web application, a person who can't speak won't ever able to access that application. 

Although there are many types of disabilities in this world. However, on a high level, assistive technology software are there to focus on these type of disabilities:

1. Vision

People who are suffering from vision-related problems fall into this category. There are different kinds of vision problems. Color-blindness, complete blindness and low vision, etc.

2. Hear

People who have hearing problems come under this category, people who are deaf or use hearing aids to mitigate the problem. 

3. Speech

People who have a problem in speech come under this category. Unclear speech or no speech disable people are the example. 

4. Motor

People who have a problem with the movement of the hands, legs, fingers, slow response time, limited fine motor control come under Motor disability. 

5. Cognitive

Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information. 

Accessibility asks us to keep in mind these disabilities and develop websites/apps in such a way that 
  • A blind user can perceive digital information through screen reader software. 
  • A deaf user should be given a transcript and captions of the audio/videos to read. 
  • A motor disable person have keyboard options for all actions (click/scroll/drag-drop) so that it can be done without a mouse. 
  • Alternate ways of input should be given to people who can't give voice inputs.
Above are only a few examples of how accessibility can be achieved. In my next post, I will give more focus on how to create accessible content and make it in a practice. 

Do you know : Accessibility is also known as A11Y. The reason, there are 11 characters between a and y.

Read also : #CauseAChatter Digital Accessibility, Why is it important?
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