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Guide on the different types of digital accessibility

Digital accessibility is a crucial topic in our digital era, especially considering the number of people who rely on technology to carry out daily tasks. Digital accessibility refers to the creation of technology and online content that can be used by anyone, regardless of their ability or disability. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of digital accessibility and their importance in creating inclusive digital experiences.

What types of accessibility should I consider?

To give some context to the Latin American reality, in Chile, the data from the Second National Disability Study in 2017 estimated that there were 2.87 million people with disabilities. This represents 16.7% of the population, which is assumed to persist today due to a lack of updated data. In the case of Colombia, as of December 2019, there were 1,298,738 people with disabilities, according to the official register of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.

When reviewing the different aspects of digital accessibility, there are three pillars that your team can use as a reference:

a. Cognitive Accessibility

This dimension aims to facilitate understanding of the world so that all people can understand texts, technologies, or processes without difficulty. The idea is to create a digital project that is predictable and helps these individuals avoid and correct errors.

Some potential user profiles in this category are:

  • People with cognitive disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.

  • Elderly people with cognitive problems or illiteracy.

  • People with attention deficit, depression, or other cognitive disorders.

b. Physical Accessibility

The idea behind physical accessibility is to offer alternatives when interacting with devices or interfaces through assistive tools. This point seeks to eliminate access barriers for people with reduced mobility, affecting their nervous or muscular system.

Some user profiles in this category are:

  • People with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

  • People who have had fingers, hands, or arms amputated.

  • Tetraplegic or paraplegic individuals.

  • People who move in wheelchairs or use crutches for support.

c. Sensory Accessibility

The sensory dimension is traditionally associated with sight and hearing but also includes people whose cognitive disabilities make access to information difficult. It is imperative to avoid creating unnecessary sensory barriers, as well as delivering an experience that provides enough time and context to understand its content.

Some user profiles in this category are:

  • People with visual impairments, such as blindness, cataracts, or color blindness.

  • People with hearing impairments, such as deafness, tinnitus.

  • People with sensory disabilities, such as epilepsy.

As a separate point, you should consider that disabilities can be classified as permanent, temporary, or circumstantial. One way to illustrate this is to see a blind person, someone recovering from eye surgery, and someone driving a vehicle as potential users with visual impairments. At the same time, a person may present multiple disabilities.

In conclusion, digital accessibility is an essential aspect in creating an inclusive online experience for all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. By considering different types of digital accessibility, from visual accessibility to cognitive accessibility, developers and designers can create technology and content that is easily accessible to everyone. In addition to being an ethical responsibility, digital accessibility can also have a positive impact on a company’s brand and image, as well as its ability to reach a wider and more diverse audience. Ultimately, by prioritizing digital accessibility, we are helping to build a more inclusive and equitable digital world for everyone