Electronic Barriers

Individuals with physical, sensory or learning impairments may not be able to effectively access electronic information that is created without universal access in mind. This guidance explains how certain impairments can affect access, and how to build content with accessibility in mind.

On this page:

Visual Impairments

Individuals with visual impairments may use adaptive technology such as screen readers to read the words on a webpage aloud. Screen readers cannot scan and interpret pictures and images. Additionally, some formats may appear to be in text, but are actually images of a document.

  • Use alt tag descriptions for any images.
  • Ensure that PDFs and other text documents can be accessed with a screen reader.
Visual impairments may include the inability to distinguish among colors.
  • Do not use color to convey meaning.
Individuals with visual impairments generally do not use a mouse.
  • Supply keyboard alternatives for mouse usage.
People with visual impairments may not be able to see information conveyed by video or through visual aids such as PowerPoint.
  • Provide audio descriptions of events in videos that cannot be interpreted by audio alone.
  • When giving a presentation, convey the information on PowerPoint slides and other visual aids verbally.

Cognitive Impairments

Users might become confused at complex website layouts or inconsistent navigational schemes.

  • Simplify the layout as much as possible.
  • Keep the navigational scheme consistent to the degree possible.
Users might have difficulty focusing on lengthy sections of text.
  • Where appropriate, group sections of text under logical headings.
  • Organize information into manageable pieces.

Hearing Impairments

Audio is inaccessible.

  • Provide captioning or transcripts for audio clips.

Motor Impairments

Users may not be able to operate a mouse.

  • Ensure that all of the functions can be accessed through a keyboard. Tab from link to link to determine whether the keyboard can effectively access information on the page.