As technology continues to rapidly evolve and make certain aspects of our lives easier, it’s not always a step forward for people who are mobility impaired.
When people are mobility-impaired, meaning their gross motor skills are limited, their ability to navigate the technological world is impacted. This mobility-impaired definition can be characterized into two categories: orthopedic and neurological. Orthopedic impairments involve the skeletal system, while neurological impairments involve the brain. According to the University of Washington, mobility impairment examples include amputation, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury, to name a few.
Sometimes, new device features can be seen as innovative and convenient additions to a device’s function, but they can present huge problems for people with mobility disabilities.
‘Advancements’ Can Be Barriers for Some Users
If a new technological feature depends on the user having a steady hand to make precise movements, this could alienate a mobility-impaired person who doesn’t have complete control over their mobility.
Certain device settings could also make it tough for people with motor impairments. For example, shaking your phone after writing a message, unintentionally triggering a feature that clears the text. Having to re-type the message is inconvenient for someone with a physical mobility impairment, who may have to start a difficult process over again. This is because with the rise of touchscreen devices, the lack of tactile keyboard feedback can make it more difficult to maintain accuracy in what you type.
Mobility Impairments Can Impact Anyone
Mobility impairments can come in many different forms and aren’t always permanent. Digital devices are generally built to be most helpful for users with standard mobility capabilities. This leaves out a huge portion of the population who will likely experience or suffer a temporary disability during their lives.
Say you break your arm. You now have a physical mobility impairment that you will need to overcome. The normal things you do everyday, like typing on a computer or phone, will not be as simple as they once were.
Disabilities also aren’t always permanent or injury-related, but could arise as a result of getting older. Older adults’ physical capabilities decline with age, which can eventually lead to mobility loss, such as arthritis, which can erode fine motor skills and make it more difficult to do things like hold or type on digital devices.
Luckily, solutions to these accessibility issues are available.
Mobility Impairment Shouldn’t Matter in the Digital World
Universal design is important so content is available on a level playing field for people with mobility disabilities. Universal design is characterized by the creation of an environment, whether digital or physical, that can be accessed by people of all abilities. This is a fundamental element of good design because it ensures no one is left behind.
For example, a website that ensures users can navigate using keyboard navigation is good design. Keyboard navigation is beneficial so people with mobility impairments can access computer programs and browse the web through keyboard navigation commands if they do not have the fine motor skills necessary to use a mouse or trackpad. It is easier to press a distinct keyboard key than it is to move and click on links and buttons with a mouse. This feature increases the accessibility of the site.
What Can Be Done?
It’s important to conduct user testing to learn what is beneficial for users and what is not. As a website owner, you can audit the keyboard navigation capabilities of your own site. To do this, go through your website using only keyboard commands and see how well you can navigate typical page paths. The results of this test will let you know which and how many changes you need to make.
For example, how many keystrokes does it take to get to a sub-item in your website? If it takes a long time or is confusing, you can work towards simplifying the process for your users who would benefit from it.
Start Improving Your Website Now With UserWay
You can check your website’s accessibility by using UserWay’s Accessibility Checker, and starting improving your website through the UserWay Accessibility Widget. This simple-to-install widget is quick and easy to implement. This tool will give you one large step toward becoming WCAG 2.0 compliant and giving your users access to features that will help them easily navigate your site, no matter what accommodations they require.
Permanent and temporary motor impairments can happen to anyone at any age. That’s why it is incredibly important to ensure your website is easily accessible to everyone, no matter what their mobility level is. UserWay can help you get there.
With UserWay’s accessibility widget, you can have access to a whole host of accessibility functions like:
- Screen reader capabilities
- Dictionary access
- Text enlargement
- Saturation adjustment
- Contrast adjustment
- Link highlights
- Pause animations
- Larger line and text spacing and alignment
- Dyslexia friendly font
- Large cursor
- Alternative text
- Page structure outline.
Get started today with your free trial of UserWay for your website, and make sure your website can be navigated by everyone.
Why should I ensure my website is accessible?
It’s fundamentally important to ensure your website is accessible to everyone because it is a sign of good design and inclusivity. Just as you would want everyone to have equal access to a physical space, digital space is important for everyone to be able to participate.
Web accessibility compliance also strengthens your liability defense against web accessibility lawsuits. Using UserWay’s widget, you will ensure your website is one step closer to becoming ADA and WCAG compliant, which lowers your risk of having litigation filed against you.
How do I get started with UserWay?
To get started with UserWay, you can first check the accessibility of your website using UserWay’s Accessibility Scanner. Once your site is scanned, you will be informed of the different areas for improvement, which you can address using UserWay’s Accessibility Widget. This widget allows all users to customize their experience on your website to suit their individual needs, detects WCAG violations, and offers remediation suggestions.
Start your free trial today and get one step closer to ADA and WCAG compliance!