Adaptive strategies

Disabled people use many different tools and techniques to customise their interaction with web content.

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What are adaptive strategies?

Adaptive strategies are techniques that disabled people use with their software and hardware — for example, web browsers and assistive technologies (AT) — when consuming web content. These techniques modify the presentation of and interaction with web content to make it easier to understand and use.

For more information on AT, see the Knowledge Area: Assistive technologies.

Customising how content is presented

Disabled people often configure their software to customise the presentation of content according to their individual needs and preferences.

Audio

Text transcripts

People with hearing or learning impairments may want to access the text transcript of audio content as an alternative to listening to it.

To understand more about user needs for consuming audio content through a text transcript, see Understanding Success Criterion 1.2.1: Audio-only and Video-only (Pre-recorded) — W3C.

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When a fully descriptive text transcript for pre-recorded audio-only media is provided that presents equivalent information, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Pre-Recorded) (Level A).

When a fully descriptive text transcript for pre-recorded synchronised media (video with audio) is provided that presents equivalent information, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) (Level A).

Sound and volume

People with hearing impairments may want to;

People with learning impairments may want to turn off sound notifications if they find them intrusive or distracting.

To understand more about user needs for controlling sound, see Understanding Success Criterion 1.4.2: Audio Control — W3C.

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When any audio on a web page plays automatically for more than 3 seconds and a mechanism is available to pause or stop the audio, or to control the volume separately from the system-level volume setting, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.4.2 Audio Control (Level A).

Brightness and colours

People with sensitivity to light, low vision or colour blindness may want to make content easier to see by:

To understand more about user needs for reducing screen brightness, or changing text contrast or colours, see:

Columns

People with vision impairments may want to change text in multiple columns to one continuous column of text to make it easier to read and so that they:

To understand more about the readability issues with columns for some users, see:

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

Except for parts of content which require two-dimensional layout for usage or meaning, content meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.4.2 Reflow (Level AA) when it can be presented without loss of information or functionality, and without requiring scrolling in 2 dimensions for:

  • vertical scrolling content at a width equivalent to 320 CSS pixels
  • horizontal scrolling content at a height equivalent to 256 CSS pixels.

Font

People with vision or learning impairments may want to change the font face (also called font family or typeface) of text to make it easier to read.

To understand how to provide users with a list of fonts to choose from, see Font — Accessibility Requirements for People with Low Vision — W3C.

Hyphenation

People with vision or learning impairments may want to turn hyphenation off to make words easier to understand.

To understand more about why some disabled people prefer or dislike hyphenation, see Hyphenation — Accessibility Requirements for People with Low Vision — W3C.

Images

People with vision or learning impairments may want to access a short text description for simple, meaningful images, or a long description for complex informative images, to understand the information that they convey.

To understand more about user needs for text alternatives that convey the equivalent information in meaningful images, see Understanding Success Criterion 1.1.1: Non-text Content — W3C.

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When meaningful non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.1.1 Non-text content (Level A).

Interface elements

People with vision or learning impairments may want to change the size of interface elements (such as accordions, messages boxes, tab bars and text input fields) on the page to better perceive information.

To understand more about user needs for increasing or decreasing the size of interface elements, see Size of All Elements — Accessibility Requirements for People with Low Vision — W3C.

Line length

People with vision or learning impairments may want to set the line length for blocks of text to make it easier to read.

To understand more about user needs for reading lines of text, see:

Pop-up windows, animations and sounds

People with learning impairments may want to turn off or block features on a website that disorient or distract them, such as:

To understand more about user needs for avoiding distraction when consuming web content, see Understanding Success Criterion 2.2.2: Pause, Stop, Hide — W3C.

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

Content that is presented in parallel with other content meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide (Level A) when there is a mechanism to pause, stop, hide, or control its frequency when it:

  • is moving or blinking for more than 5 seconds
  • starts scrolling automatically for more than 5 seconds
  • updates automatically (unless the auto-updating is part of an activity where it’s essential).

Spacing

People with vision or learning impairments may want to adjust the line height of blocks of text and/or change the spacing between:

This helps them to read more easily and to do things like track content and group related information.

To understand more about user needs for the spacing of blocks of text and elements, see:

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When HTML text has all of the following properties and values set, and there is no loss of content or functionality, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.4.12 Text Spacing (Level AA):

  • line height (line spacing) is set to at least 1.5 times the font size
  • spacing following paragraphs is set to at least 2 times the font size
  • letter spacing (tracking) is set to at least 0.12 times the font size
  • word spacing is set to at least 0.16 times the font size.

Text size

People with vision impairments, such as low vision acuity or tunnel vision, may want to change the text (font) size of all text on the page without zooming the entire interface.

To understand more about user needs for larger text in order to perceive letters, see:

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When text can be resized without assistive technology up to 200% without loss of content or functionality, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.4.4 Resize Text (Level AA).

Text style

People with vision or learning impairments may want to:

To understand more about user needs for distinguishing text elements and reading blocks of text with or without text style or capitalisation, see:

Videos

People with hearing or learning impairments may want to turn on captions to read video content as it is playing, or to access the descriptive text transcript of a video as an alternative to watching or listening to the content.

To understand more about user needs for captions and descriptive text transcripts when playing video content, see:

Meeting the Web Accessibility Standard

When a pre-recorded video is captioned, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A).

When a live video is captioned, it meets WCAG 2 Success Criterion 1.2.4 Captions (Live) (Level AA).

When a video has a descriptive text transcript, it meets WCAG 2:

Pointer speed

People with vision or mobility impairments may want to change the speed at which the pointer moves on the screen — for example, when they are controlling it using a mouse or head wand.

Supporting adaptive strategies

To support the adaptive strategies that disabled people use to consume and interact with web content: