Types of Disabilities

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, over 40 million people, or 12.7% of the population have reported having a disability. WashU websites and EIT should be accessible to people of all abilities, including people who use assistive technologies.

Disabilities affecting the body or mind can it more difficult for the person with the disability to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.

Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, individuals with disabilities are actually a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. No two people experience a disability in exactly the same way. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see.

Here are some common types of disability and examples of accommodations or other best practices that may be helpful in removing barriers to access.


  • Low vision
    • Includes partial sight, poor acuity, tunnel vision, and clouded vision
  • Color blindness
  • Blindness

Helpful practices for people with visual disabilities

  • Images & controls should have equivalent text alternatives
  • Text, images & page layouts can be resized without losing information
  • Video content has text or audio alternatives, or audio-description track
  • Text and images have sufficient contrast between foreground and background color
  • Provide consistent, predictable navigation
  • Avoid using color alone to identify links or controls


  • Hard of hearing
  • Deafness

Helpful practices for people with auditory disabilities

  • Audio content, including videos, provide captions or transcripts
  • Media players provide volume controls
  • Media players provide options to adjust caption text size and colors
  • No interactions that rely on using voice only


  • Amputation
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatism
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Repetitive stress injury
  • Tremors and spasms
  • Quadriplegia

Helpful practices for people with physical disabilities

  • Provide full keyboard support
    • All links, menu items, controls accessible via keyboard (Tab, Shift+Tab, & Return keys)
    • No keyboard traps
  • Provide sufficient time to complete tasks
  • Provide consistent, predictable, simple navigation and page functions
  • Link targets, buttons should be of sufficient size

Cognitive, learning, and neurological

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Memory impairments
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Perceptual or learning disorders
  • Seizure disorders

Helpful practices for people with cognitive disabilities

  • Provide simple navigation and page layouts that are easy to understand and use
  • Avoid, when possible, complex sentences that are difficult to read or unusual words
  • Avoid moving, blinking, or flickering content. Or provide method to disable
  • Video, animations, or audio content can be paused or stopped
  • Simple text is supplemented by images, graphs, or illustrations


  • Muteness
  • Stuttering
  • Dysarthria

Helpful practices for people with speech disabilities

Interactions that rely on using voice only are limited