14 May

Categories and norms for web-inclusive user groups

Make your emails accessible
Table of contents
  1. What health issues fall under the category of web inclusivity (accessibility)?
  2. Mandatory tips for websites
  3. Recommended tips for websites
  4. Wrapping up
What health issues fall under the category of web inclusivity (accessibility)?

Have you ever wondered how many people use the internet every day and how many of them have certain health issues? I believe this question has always been and will always be relevant, so reminding people about web inclusivity is always useful.

When I first started learning about the concept of web inclusivity, I focused only on people with vision impairments, overlooking many other groups of disabilities that fall under various web inclusivity categories. The 2024 WebAIM Million report identified accessibility flaws in approximately 96.3% of the million most visited webpages — that is, most websites are inaccessible to users with visual, hearing, coordination, neurological, or speech limitations.

Although the same report emphasizes that more websites are trying to implement accessibility features such as ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications), many of them are yet to meet the necessary standards.

Legal pressure and regulations are prompting more websites to adopt accessibility rules. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been expanded to include websites as public places, which has led to an increase in the number of related accessibility lawsuits: 4,605 such lawsuits were filed in 2023, indicating a significant legal incentive for websites to comply with accessibility standards.

In this article, I discuss the requirements that websites and newsletters must satisfy to adhere to international web inclusivity standards.

What health issues fall under the category of web inclusivity (accessibility)?

Vision impairments

  • total or partial blindness;
  • color blindness (color vision deficiency) — 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women worldwide have some form of color vision deficiency, which affects how they perceive color and can vary significantly in its severity;
  • limited peripheral vision or other types of visual impairments — while 258 million people have mild visual impairments, 510 million people have issues with near vision, affecting their ability to see objects up close.

Category of web inclusivity _ Vision impairments

Those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy, although not included in this group, are extremely sensitive to bright colors, GIFs, and screen flickering, which may trigger seizures.

Hearing impairments

  • total or partial deafness;
  • problems with perceiving sounds of different loudness or pitch.

Category of web inclusivity _ Hearing impairments

Mobility impairments

  • limited motor skills or coordination;
  • inability to use hands or difficulty in using them to handle, for example, a mouse or a keyboard;
  • difficulty maintaining a certain posture for an extended period or the need for special support devices.

Category of web inclusivity _ Mobility impairments

Cognitive and neurological impairments

  • conditions that affect concentration, attention, learning ability, and logical thinking;
  • autism spectrum disorders;
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and others.

Category of web inclusivity _ Cognitive and neurological impairments

Speech impairments

  • difficulty in pronouncing words;
  • speech disorders that require alternative communication methods.

Category of web inclusivity _ Speech impairments

You can find an extended list of diseases and symptoms in our accessibility guide.



You will also find key recommendations for creating emails for web-inclusive user categories.  

Now, let's move on to the mandatory Accessibility requirements you must follow if you decide to create, or have already created, a web resource. This will be useful for everyone, even just to check how well the standards are being adhered to. 

Mandatory tips for websites

Vision impairments 

The following are typically mandatory to offer better accessibility for people with visual impairments:

  1. Sufficient text and background contrast: This will enable people with poor vision and color blindness to read text without strain. Standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) demand a certain level of contrast.
  2. Alternative texts for images (alt texts): Having alternative texts for images allows screen reading software to vocalize these image descriptions for blind and visually impaired users.
  3. Screen reader support: Websites must be compatible with the screen readers used by blind and visually impaired users to ensure they can easily navigate and interact with the website content.
  4. Scalability of content: The option to enlarge text and interface elements without losing functionality or degrading a website's appearance is crucial.
  5. Keyboard navigation: All the interactive elements should be accessible through keyboard navigation, which is important for users who cannot use a mouse.
  6. Contrast ratio: The WCAG recommend a minimum contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. To offer better accessibility, especially for people with poor vision, a contrast ratio of 7:1 or higher is advisable.
  7. Large text size: Text sized at 18 points (approximately 24px) or 14 points (approximately 18.66px) in bold is considered large text, which can be made more readable with a slightly lower contrast ratio.
  8. Color considerations: For users with color blindness, it's important to ensure that the information conveyed through color is also distinguishable without color. Avoid using color combinations users with color blindness struggle to distinguish, such as red/green, green/brown, green/blue, blue/gray, and light green/yellow.
  9. Contrast-checking tools: Various online tools, such as the WebAIM Contrast Checker, can help you verify the contrast between your text and background to ensure that your website complies with the recommended standards.
  10. Simplified background: Having a uniform, simple background can enhance text readability unlike patterned or image-heavy backgrounds.

Hearing impairments 

Hearing impairments include various diseases and conditions that affect a person's auditory function. Some of these may be in active stages, while others might not manifest symptoms for a long time.

To enhance accessibility to people with hearing issues, the following factors must be adhered to:

  1. Subtitles for video materials: Videos containing audio information (such as dialogues or important sound effects) must have subtitles to ensure that people with hearing impairments can read the text while watching the video.
  2. Text transcripts for audio materials: Providing full-text transcripts for all audio recordings (such as podcasts or audio lectures) will ensure that users with hearing impairments can fully access the provided information.
  3. Synchronization of subtitles and sound: Subtitles must be accurately synchronized with the corresponding sounds to ensure correct and understandable information perception.

Mobility impairments 

Various diseases and conditions harm individuals’ ability to control their body movements and significantly complicate how they use traditional input devices and navigate websites. Developing adaptive and accessible interfaces is thus crucial for their improving access to digital resources.

It is thus important to adhere to the following recommendations:

  1. Keyboard navigation: All the interactive elements on a website must be accessible and manageable using the keyboard without the need to use a mouse. This includes access to links, buttons, forms, and other control elements.
  2. Sufficient time for interaction: Users with limited motor abilities may need more time to input data or navigate the site. Websites should provide the option to extend response time where applicable (for example, when filling out forms).
  3. Focus management: When navigating with a keyboard, it is crucial that the focus on interactive elements is clearly visible and consistent to ensure that users can easily track where they are on the page.
  4. Avoiding forced movements: The site design should not require complex or precise movements that might be difficult for people with limited motor skills (for example, a drag-n-drop system. If you use drag-n-drop features, alternative methods should be available for users who cannot perform these actions. This might include buttons to move items up or down in a list as an alternative to dragging).

Cognitive and neurological impairments 

This group of disorders is actually one of the most common, encompassing a fairly extensive list of diseases and conditions. For example, we have material on dyslexia from Daniel Britton, who himself has it and has discussed it in his webinar.

Moreover, there's post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one of the most common conditions that can affect concentration and hyperarousal, rendering interactions with overloaded or complex interfaces particularly difficult. It is thus paramount to pay attention to this category of web inclusivity and adhere to the following rules:

  1. Clarity and simplicity of content: Using simple and clear language by avoiding jargon and complex sentences and providing clear instructions is crucial for people with cognitive impairments.
  2. Logical navigation and structured content: It's essential for the website structure to be intuitively understandable, with clearly marked sections and consistent navigation. This helps users with cognitive impairments to better orient themselves on the site and facilitates easier information retrieval.
  3. Providing instructions and cues: Including clear instructions for tasks such as filling out forms or performing online transactions is vital. These instructions should be made easy to find and understand. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of errors and frustration for users with cognitive impairments.
  4. Avoiding time restrictions: If a website includes elements that demand actions within a specific timeframe, providing the option to manage or extend this time, or disable timers, is crucial for people with slower processing speeds.

Speech impairments

Certainly, the first question that arises in your mind is this: how are people with speech impairments related to accessibility groups? I also asked this question to myself. But, as it turns out, this group most often has the following issues:

  • difficulty pronouncing words;
  • speech disorders that demand alternative communication methods.

For example, stuttering can become a problem when communicating on the internet because of the following reasons:

  • it can complicate the use of voice commands in web applications or search engines, as voice assistants may struggle to recognize stuttered or repeated words;
  • interactive forms that demand voice input can be difficult for people with stuttering if the technology is not configured to understand uneven speech;
  • stuttering can limit an individual’s ability to communicate quickly and confidently on social media, especially when using voice chat features;
  • stuttering can decrease an individual’s confidence when using certain websites, especially if these sites have complex interactive elements that demand their active participation.

The most important functionalities that are often used to offer better accessibility for those with speech impairments are the following: 

  • alternative methods of communication that do not involve verbal communication (messengers), as people with speech impairments need more time to respond;
  • clear and accessible structure of landing pages, website text, social media posts, or emails, as the perception of those with stuttering differs: if everything is not clearly structured, it will be more difficult for them to perceive information even visually.

Most importantly, in the United States, stuttering is recognized as a disability under the ADA. This recognition demands reasonable accommodations in educational and professional settings, which corresponds to other accessibility issues. Websites are also included in the list of professional settings.

It is thus imperative to check whether your web resource adheres to the following factors: 

  1. Alternative input forms: Input methods that do not rely on voice — such as text input, selection from suggested options, or keyboard use — must be mandatory to ensure better accessibility.
  2. Ability to use assistive technologies: Websites must be compatible with assistive technologies, such as text input programs that use voice for those who can use voice but struggle with regular speech.
  3. Text alternatives for voice content: Text transcriptions or subtitles for any audio or video content where speech plays a key role are also crucial to ensure better access to information.

Of course, besides these factors, there are those that are recommended but are no less important in use.

Recommended tips for websites

  1. Support for different display modes: For example, providing a dark mode can help users with certain visual impairments.
  2. Font customization: Providing the option to choose their preferred font type and size can significantly improve readability for people with vision impairments.
  3. Audio descriptions for video content: Providing the audio descriptions of actions in videos that are not described by voice tracks can be useful but is not always mandatory.
  4. Utilization of iconography: Iconography can ensure that those with color blindness do not lose access to important information.

Here are some key aspects where iconography can facilitate web inclusivity:

  1. Enhancing navigation: Icons can act as universal symbols, helping users easily orient themselves on a website. For users with cognitive impairments or those unfamiliar with a website's language, icons can simplify their understanding of functions and navigation.
  2. Content accessibility: Icons can assist in visually presenting information, which is beneficial for people with visual impairments or reading difficulties. Bright and clear icons are easier to recognize and render information more accessible.
  3. Intercultural communication: Icons overcome language barriers by representing concepts and actions without words.
  4. Universal design: Iconography that considers the needs of all users, including those with disabilities, is a crucial aspect part of a universally accessible web resource.

For mobility impairments, the following may be beneficial:

  1. Support for alternative input devices: In addition to keyboard input, websites can support other input devices, such as voice input, one-button mice, eye control, etc.
  2. Interface customization: Allowing users to customize interface elements, such as button size or input sensitivity, can improve accessibility for people with various types of mobility impairments.
  3. Minimization of physical effort: Reducing the number of actions required to complete a task (e.g., autofill forms) can significantly ease website usage.

For speech impairments:

  1. Interactive tips: Providing interactive tips or step-by-step instructions that do not require voice input can help users with speech impairments interact more easily with the website.
  2. User interface personalization: Offering the ability to customize the user interface to reduce or eliminate the need for voice input can significantly improve accessibility for people with speech impairments.
  3. Clear feedback and support: Offering clear instructions and easily accessible support through text-based communication tools, such as chats or feedback forms, can assist users with speech difficulties.
  4. Testing with real users: Conducting website accessibility testing with people with disabilities who are part of web inclusivity can help identify and eliminate the potential barriers that may have gone unnoticed.

Wrapping up

The topic of accessibility is quite extensive, and in this article, we discussed the categories and basic standardization requirements for websites and emails that are fundamental to make them fully accessible to all user groups.

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