Disability and Information or Communication Barriers


Information or communication barriers exist because not all people read or understand in the same way. For instance, some information or communication barriers are:

  • Audio-only fire alarms
  • Lack of large print and Braille on elevators, signs, or room numbers
  • Live events or public meetings without captions or Sign language interpretation
  • Forms, pamphlets, or menus offered only in standard-sized print
  • Telephone-only contact information
  • PDF documents made from images instead of text
  • No audio-visual announcements on public transit
  • Websites that do not comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA

Disability and Information or Communication Barriers

Information or communication barriers happen when businesses offer information in only one way. This type of barrier most often affects people with sensory or print disabilities. For instance, these barriers impact people who are:

  • Blind
  • Visually impaired
  • Deaf
  • Hard of hearing
  • Deafblind

In addition, these barriers also impact people who have:

  • Learning disabilities that affect how they process writing
  • Physical disabilities that prevent them from holding or turning pages

Different types of barriers limit life for people with various disabilities. For instance, audio-only alarms lessen the safety of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Similarly, safety briefings only in print reduce the safety of people who do not read print. Furthermore, buses without visual announcements limit how people with hearing disabilities can travel. Alternatively, buses without audio announcements limit the movement of people with print disabilities.

Barrier Removal Helps Everyone

Therefore, when businesses present information in many ways, they can welcome people with and without disabilities. For instance, captions or signage help people:

  • With hearing disabilities
  • Learning English
  • In noisy locations

Likewise, online forms can help people:

In other words, many people find barrier-free documents and events helpful. However, for people with disabilities, removing barriers is not only a help, but a need. Therefore, businesses should prevent or remove barriers whenever they can.

Our next article will explain how businesses can find solutions for information or communication barriers.




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