Technology often helps people with disabilities perform every-day tasks. Computers, the Internet, and self-service kiosks make it easier for people to interact and do business. However, technology can sometimes be a barrier that limits people’s access to the world around them. Technology barriers happen when technology is not accessible to people with disabilities. For instance, some technology barriers are:
- Lack of computer accessibility, including:
- Hardware, such as key guards, trackballs, large monitors, or head-pointing systems
- Software, such as screen reader, screen magnification, or speech recognition programs
- Website functions that only work when users click with a mouse
- Self-service kiosks without accessibility features
- Touch screens without screen reader software or tactile keyboards
- Out-of-order equipment, including:
- Captioning mirrors
- Description headsets
These and other technology barriers limit life for people with different disabilities. For example, websites that require mouse-clicking are barriers for people who always use keyboard commands instead of a mouse. Likewise, these websites are also barriers for people controlling their computers through speech. Moreover, touch screens can be barriers for people with limited upper body movement. Similarly, touch screens without speech output are also barriers to people who are blind.
Barrier Removal Helps Everyone
Therefore, businesses that can remove or prevent technology barriers become more welcoming to people with and without disabilities. For instance, speech recognition software makes computers accessible for people with mobility disabilities. In addition, people who are multi-tasking also find it useful. Furthermore, when websites are designed for use with keyboard commands, they also become easier for search engines to find. As a result, people who create websites accessibly also make it more likely that visitors will notice and browse them. In other words, many people find barrier-free spaces helpful. However, for people with disabilities, removing barriers is not only a help, but a need. Therefore, businesses should prevent or remove barriers whenever they can.
Our next article will consider how businesses can implement these and other solutions for technology barriers.