Digital Accessibility For Physical Disabilities

Published October 16, 2022

Making your website accessible might seem intuitive, especially when you’ve covered the sensory disabilities like providing captions and integration with screen readers. However, many other types of disabilities affect people differently. You may not have thought of some adaptations, for example, the ability to disable animation, which can negatively affect people with seizure disorders.

What Are Physical Disabilities?

The term ‘physical disabilities’ refers to many things, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, etc. 

While it may seem that none of these conditions affect someone's ability to access the internet, they actually do. For people with muscular dystrophy or similar conditions, tasks like holding a mouse and pressing buttons can be challenging. 

Web Accessibility for Physical Disabilities

Once you’ve considered various types of physical disabilities, you’ll need to start thinking about how to offer an accessible website for all your users. Here are a few handy tips:

  • Your website needs a user-friendly interface and should integrate well with assistive technology. It also needs to have a consistent layout so that someone already struggling to use your site will not have to relearn it as they navigate through the pages.
  • Ensure your buttons and links are responsive across devices and are prominent enough to be seen in a large clickable area. Another thing to note is that overly sensitive buttons or links that are too small can be a challenge for people living with physical disabilities.
  • Rethink your spacing, such as the spacing between text or buttons. Words and images that are too close together can be hard to read or follow. Words and pictures that are too far apart might look like they are for separate content groupings.
  • Ensure that your CAPTCHAs and other time-dependent site functions allow enough time for someone with disabilities to input what you need them to before the timer runs out. Consider having a visual option and an auditory option. 
  • People living with multiple sclerosis often have movement disorders, including severe tremors. Double-check any drag-and-drop functions, as these movements can be complicated for anyone with dexterity issues. 
  • Your website should be accessible with multiple input types, such as a keyboard-only, keyboard and mouse, or touch screen.
  • Don’t forget other disabilities that often come under physical disabilities, such as sensory disabilities. You’ll need to provide audio and video content captions and detailed descriptions (alt-text) for images. Your website must integrate well with screen readers and other standard assistive technological devices. 

Assistive Technology for Physical Disabilities

Many people who live with physical disabilities access the internet with the help of assistive devices. Some of these devices don’t need to integrate with your website or app, but many do. Assistive technology that people with disabilities may use to access your website includes:

  • Adaptive keyboards
  • An adaptive mouse
  • Screen readers
  • Screen magnifiers, electronic magnifiers, and screen magnification software
  • Braille readers
  • Alternative input devices such as head pointers and footswitches
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools
  • Dictation software, speech-to-text or text-to-speech
  • Optical Character Recognition software (OCR)

It’s just as well that there are so many options for helping people with disabilities access your website! Nevertheless, making your site accessible isn’t as hard as all those devices make it sound. The main concern is whether or not text-to-speech (TTS) speech-to-text and screen readers can accurately read your website. 

Physical disabilities are just one of the many types of disabilities that your website will need to accommodate. However, here at, you’ll find everything you need to know about digital accessibility. 

Event: Accessible Mobile Apps and Kiosks

Join us on Tuesday, August 22nd at 1 PM ET for our next event on Accessible Mobile Apps and Kiosks.  We need to ensure self-service is accessible to everyone.

The self-service trend for customers through mobile apps and kiosks has exploded in recent years. Identify gaps in your processes that may prevent all customers from utilizing these tools. Explore how to provide an accessible user experience for all when designing, developing, and deploying mobile apps and kiosks.

Register for this free, online event here.

Catch Design, Develop and Deploy for Accessibility On Demand

Did you miss our Design, Develop and Deploy for Accessibility series? Not to worry.  It is now available on demand for you to catch on your own time. Grab the videos, transcripts, and supporting materials by clicking this link.


Vendor Directory now offers an impartial listing of digital accessibility vendors.  Search for products and services by category, subcategory, or by company name.  Check out our new Vendor Directory here.