A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.
Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.
Disabilities, World Health Organization
Electronic accessibility, or E-Accessibility, refers to the ease of use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet, by people with disabilities. Web sites need to be developed so that disabled users can access the information. For example:
- for people who are blind, web sites need to be able to be interpreted by programmes which read text aloud and describe any visual images;
- for people who have low vision, web pages need adjustable sized fonts and sharply contrasting colours; and
- for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, audio content should be accompanied by text versions of the dialogue. Sign language video can also help make audio content more accessible.
Internationally, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, prepared by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provide standards for web accessibility. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force on May 3, 2008 draws attention to the need to ensure access to ICTs for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others and will help to eliminate barriers to information, including through the Internet. At the national level, laws and regulations can promote compliance with accessibility standards.
The use of ICTs, such as the Internet, is rapidly becoming an essential part of the economic, educational and social life of many people today. Therefore it is vital that web sites can be used by all, so that persons with disabilities have the same access to information as everyone else.
E-Accessibility, World Health Organization