In-person shopping can be difficult and stressful for people with disabilities for many reasons, from tall checkout counters to non-navigable spaces, but meanwhile, Americans with disabilities are more likely to never use the Internet compared to the total population. About 23% of the population with disabilities say that they never go online, and only about two-thirds of people with disabilities ages 18 to 64 actually have a desktop or laptop computer. It seems like the online shopping experience would be a great help, but a lack of accessibility and training has put that online “counter” out of reach, just like the brick-and-mortar ones. For this reason, we’ve gathered some website accessibility tools for shoppers with disabilities as well as tips, tricks, and methods for talking to Web developers about specific needs. It doesn’t need to be a struggle, and you can have a lot of fun searching for bargains online! (Coupon Follow
Scarcity of accessible parking, lack of elevators, and high product shelves are shopping challenges that affect the 30.6 million folks who have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or who use a wheelchair, cane, or walker. Online shopping eliminates many of these common challenges. E-commerce also makes it easier to comparison shop the best brands at the lowest prices — an important consideration for a group that averages lower incomes, higher medical expenses, and lower employment rates. Most major e-commerce companies work with advocacy groups to ensure their websites are accessible to everyone. However, not all websites are fully compliant with accessibility standards or ADA laws, so some people are left out. But for people with disabilities to take full advantage of online shopping, they need the right tools and resources. We’re happy to say that onee company Wikibuy works with most of these tools,
Improving Screen Readability
Some folks with visual impairments may have difficulty navigating the many elements of a website, which makes it tough to shop or pay for products and services. Since many ecommerce sites contain an overabundance of product images and descriptions, people with visual impairments may struggle to:
Locate a page’s menus and controls.
Track the movement of the cursor.
Adjust to changes on a page, like popup windows or scrolling ads.
Follow the constant flow of information while scrolling.
Confirm correct personal or payment information in a form field.
Although people who are legally blind or have low visual acuity may have difficulty distinguishing on-screen details, resources like screen readers, magnifiers, and text-to-talk apps help bring things into focus.
See also: Disability in Kenya
Screen readers are a type of computer software that translates on-screen text into an audio voice or into braille for refreshable braille displays. The voice speed is adjustable, giving users more flexibility for following along. To keep users oriented, screen readers read aloud specific graphic elements like icons, images, or sections like “payment options”. The software identifies these sections as a user highlights them with their mouse or hovers over them with their cursor. The software will also read back any text the user inputs, like their name or credit card number.
ChromeVox — Text-to-talk Chrome extension
Talking Web — Text-to-talk Chrome extension
Firefox browser — Compatible screen reader
Screen reader simulation — Experience what it’s like to use a screen reader
VoiceOver — Screen reader and media creation tool (Mac)
NVDA — Free screen reader (Windows)
BRLTTY — Driver for braille displays (Linux)
See also: Jessica Cox
Screen magnifiers are software or physical devices that enlarge text, icons, and other on-screen graphics for people with low vision. Digital magnifiers let users adjust the contrast of text, sharpen edges of images, and change the colors of webpage elements. To add more flexibility, screen magnifiers also follow along with user actions, enlarging areas of the screen as they type text or move their cursor. Physical screen magnifiers fit over a computer’s monitor or smartphone screen and enlarge the image like a magnifying glass.
Screen magnifiers (Devices)
Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000 — Mouse with magnifier function built in
Large-key keyboards — Easy to see, high-contrast keys
Screen magnifiers (Software)
Virtual Magnifying Glass (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
Easy Reader (Windows, iOS and Android)
SuperNova Magnifier (Windows 7, 8.1 & 10)
MagniLink IMax (Mac)
ZoomText Magnifier (Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 with Service Pack 1 (or later))
ZoomText Mac (Mac)
Colorblindness affects many parts of a person’s life, from driving to shopping. Many forms of colorblindness exist, but for shoppers who have it, each one creates a major problem: confusing one color for another. Many things people without colorblindness take for granted are a challenge to those who can’t discern red from green or who lack color vision (achromatopsia) all together. Something as simple as being able to tell ripe bananas from green ones is something people with colorblindness have to consider when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.
Ecommerce websites can also be confusing spaces. Colorblindness presents challenges while shopping online for clothing, shoes, house furnishing, or anything else that needs color coordination. Those with achromatopsia can have problems identifying colored links to checkout pages or other product pages. Folks with colorblindness often enlist friends and family when making a choice, whether it’s choosing ripe fruit or the right Fruit of the Loom. Here are some resources to help:
Color Enhancer — Customizable color filter for webpages to improve color perception
Visolve — Software that transforms computer display colors into discriminable ones
ColorCompass — App that lets users identify the color of any element on a screen by clicking it (Mac)
Color Blind Pal — App that helps people who are colorblind see the colors around them
Enchroma — Eye glasses that help correct colorblindness
Colorblind Test — Test for colorblindness
Colorblind Simulator — Simulation for experiencing colorblindness
See also: Beyond Disability
People with dyslexia can find it problematic matching the letters they see on a webpage with the sounds those letters make. Dyslexia is a common disability, affecting up to 20% of people, and can restrict interaction with ecommerce websites, taking away the advantages of online shopping.
Some people with dyslexia may find product descriptions, reviews, or instructions confusing, which means they can’t compare products or evaluate them properly before purchase. Websites often contain large blocks of text or text over images. Both can negatively affect the online shopping experience of a person with dyslexia. At check out, security measures like CAPTCHA tests for bots but leaves some users with dyslexia frustrated, closing their browser with products still in their shopping cart. Here are some other website design elements that limit access to people with dyslexia:
Decorative, unfamiliar, or serif fonts
Large blocks of texts with little white space
High brightness contrast between the text and background colors (white on black)
Distracting videos, audio, and web animations
Sequenced lists that are inconsistent or unpredictable
Fortunately, people with dyslexia have many options when it comes to apps, browser extensions, and software that makes accessing ecommerce websites much easier. (Diverse Ability