People with disabilities use mobile devices, too

I think we web designers know by now that lots of people are going to be using the sites we create on mobile devices. But not everyone knows that lots of these people have a disability. That’s why I was glad to see preliminary results of a survey by the Wireless RERC (Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center) of wireless use by people with disabilities. Their survey of 452 people with a disability found that 92 percent owned or used a wireless device. Here’s the breakdown of those devices:

Smartphones were the most common device owned or used, with a majority of respondents (53%) reporting owning one of these devices. Regular “feature phones” were owned or used by about a third of the respondents (32%). Somewhat fewer respondents (27%) reported using a tablet. … These results generally mirror the rates of ownership and use of wireless devices reported for the general population by the Pew Internet and American Life project, whose research shows that 45 percent of Americans own smartphones, and 25 percent own tablets.

Source: SUNspot – Use of Wireless Devices by People with Disabilities (PDF), January 2013

You can read the full report (only three pages, people) for information on the operating systems of these devices and the survey methodology.

So if you’re wondering, “Can people with disabilities even use a mobile device? And do they?”, the answer is a resounding yes. Mobile accessibility matters. Make your mobile apps and sites accessible. You’ll be helping a lot of people if you do.

If you have a disability of any type, please consider participating in Wireless RERC’s ongoing Survey of User Needs. The Paciello Group is also conducting a separate (and much shorter) Mobile Accessibility Survey. Please help us collect data that will help web and mobile developers make web sites and apps that better meet your needs.

A redesign is coming

Last April 2, I got called to jury duty for the first time in my life. (Smart of them not to call us in on April 1, don’t you think?) I thought I would be done in a day, but ended up on the jury for a first-degree murder and kidnapping trial, and the whole thing lasted five weeks. I had some down time during the trial due to the long lunch breaks and occasional banishments from the courtroom for the lawyers to argue about secret law-y things, so I started working on a redesign of my site in bits of time that I had.

Actually, perhaps “started” is the wrong word; I may have started my redesign even before then.

The point is, it was so long ago that I can’t even remember when I started, so it’s about time I finish the dang thing already!

So here I am, publicly declaring that in the near future this site will have a new look and be completely recoded behind the scenes. I still have a lot of work to do on it, but I’m hoping I can buckle down and get it done by the end of the month. Feel free to hold my feet to the fire on this, dear reader.