Tools That Make Websites More Accessible to Disabled Users

Just like the internet’s many websites are diverse, so too are its users. If you are not a person with a disability, when you control a mouse, type on a keyboard, or click to select an option when browsing online, you probably don’t give it a second thought. Imagine doing these same tasks without being able to see, or without being able to move your hands. Suddenly, the web is becomes a place that’s full of hurdles and limited access for those who are deaf, blind, handicap or suffering from hearing loss, visual impairment and motor impairment. Since the early days of the web, accessibility for those living with a disability has been a concern. In 1997 the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) was formed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth and stability of the Web, to establish standards for web accessibility. 20 years later, website accessibility in the US is only now beginning to get attention. In fact, most countries still do not have any laws in place about web accessibility and it leaves many disabled people unable to use websites related to services they need, such as healthcare websites.

There are a number of tools that that you may not know about that helps people living with a disability access the web. Here are some helpful tools that can allow all people to equally access and use the web.

  1. Android Accessibility Apps: The TalkBack screen reader,  gives you spoken feedback and notifications. It works along with BrailleBack to provide a combined speech and braille experience. The Voice Access app lets you control your device and navigate the web with spoken commands

  2.  If you have a Chromebook, ChromeVox is a comprehensive screen reader that comes pre-installed, so there’s nothing you have to do besides turn it on.

  3. Google Chrome also has some wonderful extensions.

  4. Read Aloud and Announcify are both add-ons that can convert a website’s text to audio.

  5. VoiceIn is a speech to text extension that allows you to use your voice to type into text boxes, such as filling in forms.

  6. The Dragon Web extension allows users to navigate the web by voice, like clicking links and buttons,  and implements voice to text on websites and applications like Google docs.

  7. High Contrast allows you to change the color scheme of a web page to make them easier to read.

  8. CraftyZoom allows you to magnify a portion of your screen.

People with disabilities access and navigate the web in different ways, depending on their individual needs. These tools help ease the difficulties people with a disability face on a daily basis when using the web.


Finding Accessible Dental Care

On the list of things we all dread, going to the dentist is at the top for most. Each of us have our own reasons for disliking dental visits, whether it be the sting of the injections, the sound of the drill, or the metal instruments poking around in our mouth. For those who are disabled, it can be a dreaded experience from the get-go because for individuals who have specific accessibility needs,  it can take some extra planning.

Dental visits are especially important for those with disabilities. There can be many factors that can negatively affect teeth, such as long-term illnesses or medications. Depending on the condition, a person may need to visit the dentist more that the recommended twice a year for check-ups. So, having a dental care provider that makes receiving dental care accessible is a must.

A well informed dental care provider

You want a dentist that knows about your disability, medications and how they might affect your teeth.  They will know what indications to look for that a problem may arrive in the future and be able to take corrective action before it becomes an issue. It’s well known that an infection in a tooth can get into the bloodstream, causing health complications in other areas of the body. When someone is already compromised with a physical disability, those complications can be more severe.

Find an accessible dental office

By law, businesses have to be handicap accessible by way of parking, entrance into the building and restroom areas. With that being said, you want to find a dental office that caters to your needs during treatment as well. Look for a dental office that doesn’t impede people with physical disabilities from seeking dental care. Look for widened doorways and extra large treatment rooms. Search for a provider that has equipment, such as a Hoyer lift, that makes transferring from a wheelchair to a treatment chair easy. Some dental offices that cater specifically to wheelchair uses may utilize wheelchair platforms.

As you begin searching for a special needs dentist, begin by talking to your primary care provider. They may have suggestions. To find out if a dental office can accommodate someone in a wheelchair call the office to find out. There is also a website that has a searchable database of accessible dentist in your area.

With a little research going to the dentist doesn’t have to be stressful at all. There are dentists out there who facilitate to patients that are in a wheelchair or have other mobility concerns.