Assistive Technology and Your Website

Published December 14, 2022

With around 20% of the population relying on assistive technology to access the web, understanding standard assistive technology is essential. You’ll need to know which technology people use, why, and how this affects your business.

Screen Readers, Text-to-Speech, and Braille Computers

A screen reader is one of the most popular devices people with disabilities use to access the web. Screen readers read the text content of your website and then translate it into either speech or braille. Screen reader users rely on your image descriptions and alternative text (alt-text) to understand the content of images they find on your site. Getting these right is crucial, especially when making important points through images. Consider offering the same issues in a text or audio format so everyone can access it. You’ll also want to ensure that your website works well with popular screen readers, like Talkback, Voiceover, and JAWS.

Color Blindness Settings

Around 300 million people worldwide live with color blindness or color vision deficiency. Most web hosting platforms have built-in color blindness settings, so you most likely don’t need to worry about anything extra. However, it is well worth bearing in mind to be sure your websites and apps are accessible for those with color vision deficiency. Some people living with neurodiverse conditions also use color settings, so making sure your color-blindness options are up-to-date is essential.

Hearing Devices, Auto-Captioning, and Speech-to-Text

Since the population is aging, many more people have hearing loss or deafness. Current statistics reveal that around 48 million Americans live with hearing loss. Which hearing devices your customers use might not affect you. Still, assistive technology such as Bluetooth hearing aids, auto-captioning, and speech-to-text software is essential. You’ll need to ensure any audio or video content works with assistive software and that audio or video material appears in text format, whether captions, transcripts, or a similar article. 

Adaptive Mouses, Keyboards, and Alternative Input Methods

Many people with disabilities use alternative methods to input information into their computers and smartphones. Alternative input methods include

  • Adaptive mice
  • Adaptive keyboards
  • Braille computers
  • Braille keyboards
  • Kick pedal input tools
  • Head movement input tools
  • Eye movement input tools.

Most of the above attach to a laptop or PC via a USB cable, just like a computer mouse. However, it’s worth thinking about those of your users who input information into your site or app using an alternative method. The layout of your site can make using alternative input methods challenging, especially if the user relies on a screen reader or other assistive device.

The best way to ensure your sites and apps are accessible to visitors using assistive technology is to create explicit, concise websites with easy-to-read layouts. These websites are great for business as they benefit non-disabled visitors, look more professional, and suit visitors living with disabilities. Remember, most web hosting platforms already support accessibility options, but you’ll need to check this out thoroughly.


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