5 Popular Assistive Devices That Help People With Disabilities to Access the Internet
There are many types of assistive technologies available these days to help people with disabilities. So it might be confusing for you to determine which ones you should consider while optimizing your website accessibility.
With the recent advancement in technology, many assistive devices help people with various kinds of disabilities. These are some of the most popular ones that you must consider when optimizing website accessibility.
Screen readers are one of the most widely used assistive devices by people who are visually impaired. It is a software application that turns the text on the website into speech or a Braille display. The user can hear it and navigate on the website with the help of a Braille keyboard. The navigation on the web page has the option to jump to any section without waiting to scroll through the entire page, as that can be time taking and frustrating. Non-text elements such as images and icons get described by the alt text provided. That’s why it is essential to provide descriptive alt text with pictures and icons that are relevant to the website. Videos must also be supported with captions and narration so that they can get relayed by the screen readers, Braille writers, and other scanning equipment.
Accessibility solutions have a profile for screen readers that is compatible with screen readers such as JAWS, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. The profile also enables visually impaired people to use their keyboard to navigate through the website. Users can scroll back and forth with the tab, shift+tab, and enter keys. They can also use specific keys to jump to different sections of the web page, such as M for menus, F for forms, so on and so forth.
Voice recognition is one of the growing trends inaccessibility that is useful for people with motor function disabilities. Voice recognition also helps people with cognitive or learning disabilities, such as users who live with dyslexia. Even Google is prioritizing websites that optimize for voice search. Many of them find typing with a keyboard difficult or impossible. They can use voice recognition for emails, social media posts, or even place orders on an eCommerce website. There are many voice recognition software available on the internet, but not all of them produce equally good results. That is why a website must be optimized for accessibility to assist a user to take advantage of a voice recognition solution.
Switches have been used as assistive devices by many types of accessibility solutions. Three are many types of switch devices that can be used by different parts of the body, such as hands, fingers, foot, chin, or tongue. A classic example of a switch device is the controller on a motorized wheelchair or a joystick. With the advancement of technology, switch devices have also evolved and can be used for various functions, including accessing and browsing the internet. The latest switch devices are controlled by neural movements and are mostly used in prosthetics, but can also be used for website accessibility. The website must be optimized for switch use so that people with motor function disabilities can access it.
A reading assistant is an excellent tool that assists people with cognitive disabilities, such as autism, dyslexia, or other neurological disorders. There are various types of reading assistants for different types of disabilities. They adjust and optimize a website in the following ways to improve its accessibility.
- Adjusting the fonts, color, and spacing on a website.
- Enlarging the features on a web page such as images and forms.
- Simplifies the website by removing distractions that are less relevant such as decorative images, headers, and sidebars.
- Organizes the website by dividing various elements using graphs or sections.
Head pointers are an effective solution for people who are unable to move their body parts, except their heads. There are several types of head pointers available for them. Some are manual and meant for people who have efficient control of their head movements. These manual devices have a strapped frame that can be put on a person’s head, with a pointer sticking out in the front. The person can use the pointing stick to click on the keys of a regular or an assistive keyboard. Other head pointers can be laser mounted, which a person can use by moving the head and pointing it at a laser responsive keyboard.
Some people do not have complete control over their head movements. For them, there are head pointers that use pixel tracking technology that can get used as a virtual joystick. There is a camera attached to the top of a screen, which can follow the head movements, and the person uses a switch device as a click button. The camera tracks a reflective dot that gets attached to a person’s forehead or glasses. It is a very convenient device to set up and can be adjusted to a person’s capability to use it. There are similar devices that use an infrared pointer instead of a reflective dot that can get attached to a person’s head or glasses.
Providing accessibility for many types of assistive technologies can be daunting for a business owner. Start with an accessibility test with platforms like aCe or WAVE. That’s why it is prudent and wise to use web accessibility solutions like accessiBe on your website. The software is a lot less expensive than hiring developers to program your website to respond to so many types of assistive technologies. It is also fully automated to optimize your existing content as well as the new ones that get added to your website.