Digital Accessibility for motor Disabilities

The term motor disability summarizes all limitations in physical mobility. Spontaneously one thinks of the person in a wheelchair. Again, the restrictions can be very different. Some persons can walk short distances. Older persons in particular use walkers, which they use to walk and support themselves. In others, both the mobility of the arms and the legs are limited, for example in brittle bone disease. There are also some diseases such as rheumatism, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, which often - but not only - occur in old age.

Aids for the disabled

Depending on how severely the mobility is restricted, very different aids are used. Sometimes it is enough to use a special mouse that is easier to use than the standard mouse. Some do without the mouse entirely and mainly use the keyboard. These are mainly persons with fine motor disorders.

There are other tools as well. The easiest way to operate a computer is to use voice control. A relatively new trend are the voice inputs integrated into the operating systems. There are some commercial voice input and control programs on the market, but they are primarily intended as dictation software. The most famous program is Dragon Naturally Speaking. Classic voice control is based on fixed command sets. Similar to keyboard shortcuts or the shell, certain commands need to be memorized.

There are also voice controls for smartphones. In addition, Amazon has developed into the market leader for voice-based systems.

In the case of severe motor impairments, eye or tongue controls are also used. Similar to the mouse, a cursor is controlled with the device across the screen. Texts can be written using a keyboard that appears on the screen.

Barriers for persons with motor disabilities

It is difficult for persons with motor disabilities to operate dynamic elements because they are designed for mouse activity. For example, the drop-down menus are not popular. The mouse cursor has to be controlled very precisely and it can quickly happen that the wrong element is clicked.

Aids for persons with motor disabilities

Operating interfaces similar to those used by the keyboard are of interest to persons with motor disabilities. For example, you always need to know which clickable element has focus.

Semantic elements are particularly important in voice control. The voice control can, for example, list elements such as buttons or links if they have been marked semantically correct.