This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at

Perception - hearing, feeling and seeing 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 need to convert content from one form to another to perceive it. For example, someone who is deaf-blind requires audio and visual content in a tactile form (such as Braille). Other people need to perceive content through multiple senses, such as someone with dyslexia who may need to hear and see the text to understand it better.

Content in textual form can be more easily converted into other forms and is therefore particularly useful. However, text-only content poses barriers for many people who have difficulty with written language. Graphics and illustrations can be made accessible and often improve understandability, ease-of-use, and satisfaction with digital technology for everyone.

In some cases, content can be converted into different forms using software or hardware. For example, a text-to-speech software can convert text into speech. In other cases, content authors need to provide alternative forms of the content. For example, at least some level of human intervention is necessary to create textual descriptions for images and captions for audio content. Sometimes software tools, such as speech and picture recognition, can assist authors in providing such alternatives but the conversion is usually not fully automatable.

Accessibility feature examples

Assistive technology and adaptive strategy examples

Video: Tools and Techniques - Perception

This video is also available on a W3C server: Video: Tools and Techniques - Perception (file format: MP4, file size: 264MB).

Text Transcript with Description of Visuals

Audio Visual
How people with disabilities use digital technology: Perception - hearing, feeling and seeing How people with disabilities use digital technology: Perception - hearing, feeling and seeing
When content is accessible, people can perceive it through different senses depending on their needs and preferences. For example, some people who can’t see a screen or hear audio, rely on websites and apps that can present the information in different ways. Collage of three people using technology devices.
People who are blind may use assistive technology on computers and mobile phones called screen readers. These software tools read the information on the screen out loud, or they can present it in Braille. Blind man uses laptop to explore Wikipedia-style page about birds.
Link, heading level 2, Bird. Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Aves, (/’eIvi:z/), characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of – The content being read is highlighted on the page during narration.
Screen readers process websites and apps with correctly coded headings, lists, links, button, and other structures much better. Man continues to use laptop.
People who are blind rely on hearing or touch, rather than sight. For video, content creators need to ensure that visual information is provided in auditory form as well. The camera zooms to highlight an “Audio Description” button available below a video player on a website.
Often these descriptions of visual information can be placed in existing pauses in the audio, or the script can be created from the start with sufficient description of the scenes, characters, and other important visual information. Man continues to use his laptop at his desk.
People who are deaf-blind also use screen readers to present the information using a device called a refreshable Braille display. Braille characters are a combination of raised or lowered dots, which people read by scanning over them with their fingertips. Woman who is deaf-blind scans her fingers across a Braille device.
Similarly to people who are blind and deaf-blind, people who are Deaf and hard of hearing may use haptic feedback too; for example, through vibration alerts on a mobile phone instead of auditory notifications. Deaf woman uses her laptop at a desk with her phone next to her. Her phone’s camera flash blinks to alert her of a new message in a chat app.
People who are Deaf or hard of hearing often rely on seeing instead of hearing. For example, while watching a video they may use captions or sign language as an alternative to the audio. Deaf man signs to colleagues on a video call, and an interpreter signs back their verbal response.
You can help make technology accessible to me. Deaf-blind woman signs to the camera.
Accessibility: It’s about people. Collage of 12 people with different colored backgrounds.
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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This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at