There are many reasons why people may be experiencing varying degrees of auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and visual disabilities. For instance, some may have disabilities from birth, an illness, disease, or accident, or they may develop impairments with age. Some may not consider themselves to have disabilities even if they do experience such functional limitations.
Each individual is unique. People have diverse abilities, skills, tools, preferences, and expectations that can impact how they use the digital technology. For instance, consider the following aspects:
- Age-related impairments: People with age-related impairments often have the same functional requirements as other people with disabilities. However, their use of digital technology and adoption of assistive technologies may differ.
- Multiple disabilities: Some people have combinations of different kinds of disabilities, which may limit their approaches for interacting with digital technology. For example, someone who is deaf and has low vision might benefit from captions for audio, but only if these captions have adjustable size and color.
- Health conditions: Some people have health conditions that may affect their stamina, dexterity, or concentration. For instance, some may experience fatigue, pain, or other symptoms that could have an impact on their physical use of the computer or limit the duration or extent of their use of digital technology.
- Changing abilities: Some people may be experiencing progressive or recurring functional limitations that impact their use of digital technology differently at different times. For example, some may need particular accessibility features on one day, and others or none on another day, depending on their condition.
- Temporary impairments: Some people may be experiencing temporary impairments such as those that may occur due to an accident, surgery, or medication. They may not know about accessibility solutions, may not know how to use accessibility features, and may be unaware of their needs.
- Situational limitations: Some people may be experiencing constraints due to their surrounding or due to other situational aspects. For example, they may be in a loud environment and unable to hear audio, in bright sunlight and unable to see a screen, or they may not be able to afford some technologies.
Digital technology designed for people with a broad range of abilities benefits everyone, including people without disabilities. It is, therefore, important to consider the broad diversity of functional needs rather than categorize people according to medical classifications.