Explore UAB

Accessibility 101: Defining Disabilities

When designing a website or course, it’s important to consider who may need access and what tools they may utilize to access the information.

Visual Disabilities: Users with low vision or no vision. The most commonly discussed impairment is 100% blind, as that is what most people think of as they access websites through assistive technology like screen readers. However other visually impaired users might need access to high contrast versions of your site, or be given the ability to adjust the fonts to a larger size as necessary.

Cognitive Disabilities: One of the least understood accessibility impairments. This is huge group that is difficult to define. In loose terms, a person with a cognitive disability has greater difficulty with one or more types of mental tasks than the average person. This may include students with learning disabilities, attention deficient disorders, as well as other cognitive impairments.

Motor Disabilities: Users with low to no motor skills or lack the physical dexterity to use common input devices like mouse and keyboard. Though more of a physical disability, people with arthritis, or carpel tunnel may suffer from motor disabilities too. They too may use screen readers, keyboard tabbing, or voice operated devices.  Students with motor disabilities may include those with spinal cord injuries, systemic disorders as well as other neurological conditions affecting the bodies abilities to function.

Auditory Disabilities: Because much of the web used to be silent many people don't think about people with auditory disabilities. Now and in the future, more content is being delivered as rich media in the form of audio and video files. This includes students with hearing impairments as well as auditory processing disorders.