100 Days of A11y

Day 55: Users with Auditory Disabilities

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Auditory disabilities range from different levels of hearing difficulties to deafness, and may even include deaf-blindness. Being inclusive of this group seems fairly straightforward and easy (albeit captioning may require some budgeting).

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Users that are deaf from birth may have sign language as their first language. Text information on websites can be their second or third language. Icons, illustrations, and images can help enhance clarity of information provided on a website.

In order to include people with auditory disabilities, web designers and developers need to review the WCAG perceivable principle. Effective strategies of accommodation for the hearing impaired include:

Offering sign language video as an alternative can be a nice-to-have (WCAG SC 1.2.6, Level AAA), but it isn't always the right solution for every person with a hearing impairment. Though deaf culture is a thing, designers should never assume that every deaf person knows sign language. Additionally, it can be hard to clearly see sign language provided via web video.

It is controversial to use the word disabled in conjunction with a deaf person. Many within that community don't consider themselves disabled due to the fact that they are thinking and capable people.