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Glossary » disability


a mental or physical characteristic that limits the ability for someone to function at full capacity. Disabilities are frequently categorized into:

  • visual impairments: blindness, low vision, color blindness
  • hearing impairments: deafness, hard of hearing
  • motor impairments: mobility impairments, difficulty using hands, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, paralysis, some speech difficulties, repetitive stress injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • cognitive impairments: learning disabilities, dyslexia, language comprehension and production difficulties, memory loss

In user interface design, these disabilities can be planned for and designs can be created to reduce or eliminate the impact of a disability on the use of computers using, for instance, accessibility aids.

Other categories of disability that may be less often considered but are still relevant to interface design include seizure disorders (sensitivity to strobing stimuli), personality disorders (such as attention deficit), sensitivity to pain or other tactile sensations, and allergies (such as sensitivities to metals).