Electronic Barriers to Accessibility

Individuals with sensory, learning or physical impairments may not always be able to access electronic information effectively when electronic information is not created with universal access in mind. It is important to keep the following guidelines in mind when creating content to ensure that it is accessible to all. 

Visual Impairments 

Individuals with visual impairments can use tools such as screen readers which read words on a web page aloud. However, screen readers cannot interpret images. 

  • Use alt tag descriptions for any images
  • Make sure that any PDFs or text documents can be accessed by a screen reader (see the making accessible PDFs tutorial)

Individuals with visual impairments may not be able to distinguish among colors. 

  • Do not convey meaning through the use of color

Individuals with visual impairments generally do not utilize computer mouses for navigation. 

  • Supply keyboard alternative to mouse usage 

Additionally, individuals with visual impairments may not be able to access information conveyed through videos or Powerpoint presentations

  • Provide audio descriptions of what happens in videos that cannot be understood through the video’s audio alone
  • When giving a Powerpoint presentation, give a verbal description of visual aids used

Cognitive Impairments 

Users with cognitive impairments could become confused by complex layouts or inconsistent navigational schemes

  • Create a layout that is as simple as possible
  • Employ a consistent navigational scheme

Users may have difficulty focusing on lengthy sections of text

  • Group sections of text under headings that are logical
  • Make sure that information is organized logically

Hearing Impairments 

Audio is inaccessible to individuals with hearing impairments

  • Provide transcripts or closed captioning for videos

Motor Impairments 

Users with motor impairments may not be able to use a mouse

  • Ensure that all functions of a webpage can be accessed using the keyboard
  • In order to ensure the accessibility of a webpage, tab from link to link to determine how effectively the keyboard can navigate the web page in question