Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Computer accessibility

In human-computer interaction, computer accessibility refers to the usability of a computer system by people with disabilities. It is largely a software feature.

There are several types of disabilities that impact computer use:

The biggest challenge in computer accessibility is to make software usable for people with visual impairment. For people with poor vision, it is helpful to use large fonts, high-contrast icons etc. supplemented with auditory feedback and screen magnifying software. In the case of blindness, text to speech (screen readers) and speech recognition software is essential.

About 10% of people suffer from some form of colorblindness. In a well-designed user interface, color should not be the only way of distinguishing between different pieces of information.

Some people may not be able to use one of the input devices, the mouse or the keyboard. Therefore it is important for software functions to be accessible using both of them. Keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures are ways to achieve this. More specialized solutions like on-screen keyboards and alternate input devices like joysticks and trackballs are also available.

The astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is a famous example of a person suffering from motor disability. He uses special software that allows him to control his computer using the movement of only two fingers.

External links