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Healthcare Websites and Keyboard Interface Accessibility

As you work to ensure your site is inclusive, you may wonder if your website needs to still work with a physical keyboard on mobile. Yes – and here’s why.

As you work to improve the accessibility of your hospital’s website, there are hundreds of scenarios you need to design for. As smartphones have evolved into touchscreen-driven devices, it puts support for keyboard accessibility at risk.

It’s important to understand that making your hospital’s website work with a physical keyboard is less about using the keyboard specifically and more about allowing your website to work for all input devices, such as a keyboard, mouse, switch devices, etc.

By programming your website to work with a keyboard, you are essentially programming it to work for all input devices as those input devices usually emulate or work similarly to a keyboard. You also do your part to meet the keyboard accessibility standard for WCAG 2.1 guidelines, as well as creating a more user-friendly site, in general.

Reasons to keep keyboard navigators top of mind

Here are three use-cases for hospital website visitors that hit home the need to consider how your website interacts with physical keyboards.

  1. One of the benefits of responsive design is that users can zoom to get the mobile view on a large screen. This is particularly helpful for people with low vision or those with certain concentration or cognitive disabilities. Zooming to the mobile view on a large screen allows users a more clear, focused, and simple layout.Because there are a large number of people with multiple disabilities who may not be able to use a mouse or touch screen, you need to make sure this mobile view also works well with a keyboard.
  2. Some people have tablets mounted to their chairs and operate them not with touch or a mouse, but rather with a switch device or other input device. Again, by ensuring your mobile and desktop sites both work with a keyboard, you are also ensuring they work with most types of input devices.
  3. Screen readers on touch screen devices disable the normal touch functionality. This means that swiping left and right would not advance a carousel banner, but instead reads either the next or previous element on the page, or the next or previous letter in a word, depending on the user’s settings. In this situation, you wouldn’t be using a keyboard to interact with the mobile site, you’d be using a wide variety of swipe and tap combinations. By programming your mobile site to work with a keyboard, you also ensure it will work properly with a mobile screen reader.

Inclusive design means excellent user experience

At the end of the day, designing with accessibility in mind makes the user experience better for all users, regardless of ability. If you have questions about inclusive design or are looking for answers to your accessibility questions, contact us. In addition, our team of experts would be happy to provide feedback on your healthcare website. Simply sign up for a free accessibility check-up and we’ll be in touch!

Amanda Gansemer, CPWA

Senior Web Designer & Developer; Certified Professional in Web Accessibility

Healthcare Websites and Keyboard Interface Accessibility