A website or app for people with disabilities

By Katja Poltavets

The regular level of usability of an app or website is not suitable for all users. If you have a website that is mainly visited by a special target group, it is very important to properly identify its choke points and adjust your approach accordingly. We would like to tell you more about our vision and tips on developing and setting up websites and apps for people with disabilities.

Different types of physical or mental disabilities can make a website more difficult to use. Here you can think of a physical disability, but mental or emotional disabilities can also play a role. Website visitors with autism, language deficiency or motor limitations, for example, experience a website differently. We fully understand that you want to support your target group in every possible way and are happy to help you with this.

When developing and setting up a platform, it goes without saying that its design must convey the right look and feel. User-friendliness also plays a major role in this: is the user correctly guided and supported when visiting the website? For a target group with special concerns, we do everything we can, to match these two elements as closely as possible. In doing so, one certainly does not have to detract from the other; on the contrary, they go hand in hand!

Before we get to work, we establish who the target group is, what their purpose of use is and how we can support this purpose as optimally as possible. Solving potential pain points is therefore a high priority when developing and designing an app or website. This is naturally on our plate, but even as an administrator you can contribute to making the product as appropriate as possible by paying attention to creating and posting the right content. Of course, the pain points and associated solutions vary by type of constraint, so we've listed the most common ones.

1. A website for the blind, visually impaired and visually sensitive


An app or website remains a visual medium, which is a huge obstacle for people with visual impairments.

What can we do?

. By properly using code, you can replace visual elements with equivalent text. Then blind or visually impaired website visitors can still get the information with text-to-braille hardware or text-to-speech software. For the visually impaired, you can make a lot of difference with the design, think about color contrast (also very relevant for color-blind people) use of 'magnifiable' text, images, and obvious user shapes and patterns, such as arrows and prominent buttons.

What can you do?

Try to make sure your text is clearly written and especially not too long-winded Visually impaired people may want to use a read-aloud program, which turns written content from a web page into audio. Keeping your texts as concise as possible reduces the amount of action and effort for the user. It is also wise to pay attention to your visual content, such as images. By reducing details, and making color contrast great, an image is more visible.

2. A website for people with language impairment (language delay, dyslexia)

For users with language impairment or dyslexia, it is important to focus the website as much as possible on non-textual elements such as images, audio, video, and so on.

What can we do?

First, a big difference can be made by arranging a page logically and making it as visual as possible. This can be done by making the elements and actions obvious from top to bottom. In addition, you can support users by offering explanations and alternatives, for example search suggestions in the search bar, data auto-completion and a tooltip (informative text above an object).

What can you do?

Avoid long and busy-looking text by wording the relevant parts as briefly and clearly as possible. Remember not to use difficult words, figurative references or proverbs. As a bonus, add a brief explanation in the form of a caption where appropriate.

3. Physical or motor disability

Web users with physical disabilities, for example deteriorated motor skills such as shaky hands, often do not have difficulty with the content itself, but only with the operation of the website.

What can we do?

Getting information by scrolling and clicking with a mouse can be a major obstacle for people with physical disabilities. Moving from mouse control to keyboard control already makes it a lot easier to use. Consider performing actions with tab or arrow keys.

This can also be taken into account in the design by making the interface for actions as large as possible. Consider wide buttons and input fields. With a website-app combination, you have this immediately covered with a "mobile-friendly" design. An app is developed with finger navigation in mind, so action buttons are immediately given a more prominent place in the design. In addition, much can be automated by remembering and completing information already entered, for example, personal and address information.

4. Cognitive or intellectual

People with cognitive or intellectual disabilities may have trouble with things like memory, attention retention and dressing.

What can we do?

In the design of a website, this can be tackled by dividing the page as logically as possible; text is divided into blocks, content as much as possible on the left side and (consecutive) actions are displayed below or next to each other. Everything about this website should be centered around "logical actions" and actions should be combined as much as possible.

What can you do?

Making information visual makes it easier to understand and remember. You can try translating written information into an image or flow chart. Chances are that a user with a cognitive disability needs personal support, so then it can be helpful to provide plenty of opportunities to contact you for a guidance moment.

5. Hearing

Deaf or hard of hearing users should be able to obtain the same information as users without hearing impairments. Although hearing-impaired users can often read, great care must still be taken when formulating textual content.

What can we do?

Make language as simple and concrete as possible and avoid colloquialisms. In addition, captioning and subtitles play an important role in clarifying images and videos. Also keep in mind that it can be more difficult for a deaf or hard of hearing person to contact you by phone. Therefore, offer plenty of written contact options, such as e-mail or chat.

We like to think with you!
When creating a digital product for people with disabilities, the most important thing is to have a clear picture of what a user may encounter, and how you are going to respond. The goal and user-friendliness for the target group are constantly at the center of this process. Do you have any ideas, questions or comments about this? Nice! KNALGEEL likes to think along with you about this and make sure your product meets the wishes of your target group.

Written by
Katja Poltavets

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