Ade, reporter with limited use of his arms in Stories of Web Users, How People with Disabilities Use the Web

Accessibility: It's about people

Note: This user story is an example of a person with this type of disability. Other people with this disability may have different experiences.

About Ade

It’s not like I can’t use a keyboard or pointer, I just can’t use them for long periods because it is tiring.

Ade was involved in a accident which caused a spinal cord injury. This left him with limited use of his arms and no movement or sensation in his legs. He has worked as a reporter for many years. Ade sometimes uses a keyboard with larger keys to help him more easily hit the correct key and a joystick instead of a mouse. However, using these for extended periods can be tiring so he has started using speech recognition software for some tasks, such as dictating long pieces.

Rather than using his fingers, Ade uses the palm of his hand to operate a joystick that has an enlarged lever. This can be inaccurate to use, particularly when pointing to and clicking on small areas. When this happens, he sometimes switches to using the keyboard for navigation. He can use the tab key to move through links and form elements. When using the keyboard, Ade has found that on some sites he couldn’t see which field or link had focus. He also found that sometimes the links weren’t in a logical order, which made it hard to find the element he was interested in. He could always use his joystick but that can interrupt his flow and slow him down. Sites often include good visual styling when you hover over a link but sometimes don’t include this when the link has keyboard focus. For Ade, it is important that websites clearly show which link has the current focus and to navigate through links in a logical order, that is, following the visual order of links on the page.

When using a keyboard, Ade has found some features which really help. For example, a skip link that moves focus past all the navigation on the page is a big help. Ade tries to avoid sites that don’t have this feature. However, it limits his research sources a bit.

Ade has started using speech control software which helps him to avoid having to use the joystick and keyboard. The software allows him to select and ‘click’ on links by speaking but only when the links are clear and coded correctly. The software also has a speech-to-text dictation feature. As someone who has spent years typing out his articles, Ade is having to train himself in a new way of working. He would still prefer to type as he thinks he is much slower with dictation but he is hopeful that his speed will improve.

Outside of work, Ade finds his mobile device easier to use than the computer because there is limited navigation and no pointer device. Since it is hand-held, he has more options to place it in a position that he is comfortable with. He wishes his employer would create a mobile-friendly or responsive site that he could use for his job.

Barrier examples

Focus styling barrier
Barrier: “When I tab through links and form fields there is no visual styling to show me which element I am on.”
Works well: “There is clear and strong visual styling for links and form fields when they receive focus.”
Process time outs barrier
Barrier: “I usually take much longer to complete long forms or processes and often get timed out.”
Works well: “At the start of a long form or process, I am told that there is a time out and given the option to set it to be slightly longer.”
Saving progress barrier
Barrier: “Completing long forms with no way to save progress and take a break can be tiring.”
Works well: “I have an option to save progress and take a break when completing long, multi-step forms like when I have to get a code in email or text and type it in.”
Popup windows barrier
Barrier: “When a window opens and I can’t close it using only the keyboard it can be difficult.”
Works well: “New windows have a close icon that I can access using the keyboard and some include the option to press the escape key to close them.”

Assistive technologies and adaptive strategies used

Video: Ade, reporter with limited use of his arms

This video is also available on a W3C server: Video: Ade, reporter with limited use of his arms (file format: MP4, file size: 162MB).

Text Transcript with Description of Visuals

Audio Visual
How people with disabilities use digital technology; Ade, reporter with limited use of his arms. How people with disabilities use the digital technology; Ade, reporter with limited use of his arms.
Hello! I’m Ade. I’m quadriplegic, which means I have limited movement in my arms as well as in my legs. A man in a wheelchair speaks directly to the camera.
The technology I use is really important to me. I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts, especially for the programs that I use often. For example, scrolling a page is much easier with the arrow keys on the keyboard than by clicking on that button in the scroll bar. The man is sitting at a desk using a laptop. He uses the arrow keys to scroll up and down a web page.
Unfortunately, many websites and apps don’t work well with my keyboard. Often what has focus isn’t clear or jumps around completely out of order. The man uses the Tab key to complete sections of a form.
Sometimes that doesn’t work well because some websites and apps don’t work in landscape orientation, which is how I setup my tablet so that the buttons are big enough for me to click. The man is sitting and using his tablet in landscape orientation. The web page he is trying to view does not rotate to a landscape orientation.
While I can use a keyboard and joystick, I can’t use them for long periods because it’s tiring. So, I recently started using speech control software as well. It allows me to dictate text instead of typing, and to say certain commands instead of clicking. It’s really hard to learn a new way of working after so many years, but I’ve been patient with it and I’m slowly getting used to it. The most difficult thing is buttons without labels – it’s not clear which voice command would activate them. The man is sitting at a desk. He is talking to his laptop to write an email.
You can help make technology accessible to me. Accessibility: It’s about people. The man speaks directly to the camera.
For more information from the Web Accessibility Initiative on how people with disabilities use digital technology, visit Accessibility: It’s about people;
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