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Input - typing, writing, and clicking in Tools and Techniques, How People with Disabilities Use the Web

Accessibility: It's about people

Note: The examples given in this section are not a complete list of all the ways that people interact with digital technology.


Some people use software and customized settings to enhance the efficiency of typing, writing, and clicking. For example, some people assign personalized shortcut keys to functions they frequently use. Some people use word prediction software to help complete words and sentences with minimal typing, grammar and spelling tools to help correct text, and tools to help click, select text, and scroll with minimal movement.

Digital content needs to be designed to support these different types of approaches. For example, forms, links, and other functionality need to be usable by keyboard. In particular, applications (“client-side scripting”), embedded media players, and other programmatic objects need to provide full keyboard support that does not trap the keyboard focus within the program and larger clickable areas for buttons and links.

Accessible content supports people who need more time typing, writing, and clicking, or are more likely to make mistakes. For instance, some people forget to select options and fill out form entries, misspell words and mistype data (such as dates), or unintentionally activate buttons and links. Accessible content also provides enough time to complete tasks, clear and helpful error messages and options for correcting input.

Examples of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies

Video: Tools and Techniques - Input

This video is also available on a W3C server: Video: Tools and Techniques - Input (file format: MP4, file size: 305MB).

Text Transcript with Description of Visuals

Audio Visual
How People with Disabilities Use Digital Technology: Input - Typing, writing, and clicking How People with Disabilities Use Digital Technology: Input - Typing, writing, and clicking
When content is accessible, people can use a variety of hardware and software to enter text and activate commands. Collage of four people in various settings using technology.
Some people do not use keyboards, and use only pointing devices instead. This could include a specialized mouse, joystick, trackball, or touch screen to click links and buttons and to type on on-screen keyboards. Man in wheelchair with non-typical limbs holds and uses tablet.
However, even when using these tools, people might have difficulty selecting small targets, such as small links, buttons, and controls. Websites and apps with large clickable areas around checkboxes, radio buttons, and other controls, are easier to use for people with limited mobility and reduced dexterity. A website form appears and the man is typing entries such as phone number. For a radio button and checkbox selections, they are able to tap the label text rather than having to tap the actual radio button and checkbox controls.
Websites and apps also need to provide support for people who use the keyboard only. This includes providing ways to skip over repeated content, such as headers and navigation bars, as well as not breaking the default functionality in browsers and operating systems. Man with irregular hand movement uses a keyboard with large keys to type.
For example, using the Tab key to move around clickable items in the content, using the Enter key for selecting items, and making the currenlty active item visible by showing a rectangular box around it. A web form with a bold yellow ring around the currently active field. The focus moves from First Name to Last Name with the Tab key (rather than a mouse click).
Websites and apps that provide word prediction and accelerators, for example for search terms, reduce the amount of typing, and make them more efficient for keyboard users. Man with irregular hand movement continues to use a keyboard with large keys to type.
Additionally, not everyone using only the keyboard can see the screen; for example, people who are blind. So, in addition to ensuring keyboard support, websites and apps also need to provide clear instructions, labels for form controls, error messages, and status notifications, so that people know what is happening on the screen. A blind man types on his laptop, navigating through a web-based form with several dropdowns. They are able to make selections and move to the next dropdown using just the keyboard commands.
Websites and apps need to help people find and correct mistakes in their input; for example, by showing a summary of the entered data before submitting it. Woman with Down syndrome uses her mobile phone to complete a form. A confirmation screen appears to confirm the typed entries before submitting.
They also need to provide sufficient time to complete tasks, or avoid timing limitations altogether. Many people with disabilities require more time to navigate and orient themselves in the content, and to click and type. In particular, people with cognitive and learning disabilities. Woman continues to use her phone while at the gym.
Finally, websites and apps also need to consider people who do not use keyboard or pointing devices at all, and use speech input instead. For example, websites and apps need to be programmed and designed so that the name of a button in the software code matches the name displayed to the user. “Click send email.” Man in wheelchair with nontypical limbs dictates an email on his laptop. Once complete, he speaks aloud the “send email” command to send it.
You can help make technology accessible to me. Man smiling at screen while computer speech audio relays his message.
Accessibility: It’s about people. Collage of 12 different people with colored backgrounds.
For more information from the Web Accessibility Initiative on how people with disabilities use the digital technology, visit Accessibility: It’s about people.
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This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at