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How can a person with a disability use a computer?

Web Accessibility: Towards Digital Inclusion helps people with disabilities have the ability to use a computer independently using various tools and assistive technologies developed to suit their particular requirements.

Here are some ways they can accomplish this:

Hardware modifications

Physical components of the computer can be modified to suit individual needs, such as keyboards and mice designed for people with motor limitations, including large keys, high touch sensitivity, ergonomic mice, and eye-tracking systems to control eye movements.

Assistive software

Programs and applications are designed to assist people with different types of disabilities.

For instance:

  • Voice recognition software: Allows people to control the computer and type text using voice commands.
  • Touch screen software: Helps people with motor disabilities use a touch screen instead of a traditional mouse and keyboard.
  • Screen readers: These programs convert visual content into spoken text or Braille, allowing people with visual impairments to access information on the screen.
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) software: Helps people with speech or communication difficulties express themselves through symbols, pictures, or text on a computer interface.

Alternative input devices

Moreover, to keyboards and computer mice, there are alternative input devices such as switches, levers, and customized knobs that enable effective computer interaction for people with physical limitations.

Body movement control

Some technologies use motion sensors, such as cameras or depth sensors, to allow people to control the computer with body gestures or head movements.

Haptic devices

These devices provide tactile feedback, which can be useful to people with visual impairments or as an aid for interacting with digital content.

Accessibility adaptations

Modern computers include accessibility features such as text magnification, captioning, and color changes, customizing the experience for each user.

Training and support

It is vital to train people with disabilities in the proper use of assistive tools and technologies. It is also essential to provide technical support and adjust settings as needed to ensure a successful and comfortable computing experience.

In summary, technological advances have improved the autonomy of people with disabilities when using computers. Solutions vary according to the needs of each individual, and it is vital to follow the suggestions of assistive technology experts to find the best options.

National policies and legislation

Three federal laws protect the rights of people with disabilities and ensure their inclusion in many aspects of society:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which was followed by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 in an attempt to restore the original intent of the legislation.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal rule that protects individuals from disability discrimination.

It applies to employers and entities receiving federal assistance. It prevents them from denying equal opportunity to people with disabilities in programs by establishing their rights to participate in and access services and benefits.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA of 1990 and its amendments protect the civil rights of people with disabilities and have reduced barriers for them, eliminating discrimination and expanding opportunities in the community.

The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in several areas:

  • Employment
  • Public facilities such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and daycare centers.
  • Transportation
  • State and local government services.
  • Telecommunications such as telephone, television, and computers.

People with Disabilities and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as the ACA.

For people with disabilities, the ACA:

  • Provides more health care and protections for Americans with disabilities.
  • Expands medical options and long-term support.
  • Improves access to medication services in homes and communities.
  • Ensures accessible, quality health care for people with disabilities.
  • Establishes accessible preventive screening equipment.
  • Recognizes disability as a demographic category and assesses health disparities.

Disability Grades currently:

  • Grade 1: None

The person may have symptoms or sequelae of an accident or illness, but there is no difficulty in performing occupational activities.

  • Grade 2: Moderate

There are some difficulties in the performance of his or her tasks, but all can be performed.

  • Grade 3: Moderate accompanied by symptoms or sequelae.

There is a marked decrease in the ability to perform activities, although he/she can still take care of him/herself.

  • Grade 4: Severe

Affects the normal development of activities, including self-care activities.

  • Grade 5: Permanent

Impossibility to perform professional tasks.

Data on Disability in Mexico

According to information provided by the World Health Organization in the year 2020, more than one billion individuals worldwide have some form of disability, which is equivalent to about 15% of the global population.

Of this group, approximately 190 million experience difficulties in their functional ability and regularly require support services. The number of people with disabilities is growing due to demographic aging and the increase in chronic diseases.

According to data collected in the 2020 Population and Housing Census in Mexico, there are 6,179,890 people with disabilities, which constitutes 4.9 % of the country’s total population. Of this number, 53% are women and 47% are men.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) defines people with disabilities as those who encounter obstacles in performing fundamental activities, such as seeing, hearing, moving, remembering, concentrating, caring for themselves and communicating.

A person may have several disabilities, such as deaf-mutes with hearing and speech limitations, or those with cerebral palsy with motor and language difficulties.


Global Disability Facts

According to the World Report on Disability, approximately 15% of the population lives with some form of disability. Women are more likely to experience disability compared to men, and elder people are more so than younger people.

Participation of people with disabilities

In Mexico, only 40% of people over 15 years of age with disabilities participate in economic activities, a notably lower figure compared to people without limitations or disabilities (70 out of every 100). This situation reflects the exclusion of this segment of the population in the first step toward employment.

Men between 30 and 59 years of age with a disability have the highest employment rate, with 73.5% participating in economic activities. However, the most affected group is women over 60 years of age, with a participation of only 14.9%, according to the INEGI data.

Visual impairment is the group that experiences the lowest level of discrimination in the workplace in Mexico. Among all people with visual impairments (including those who wear glasses), 39.9% are involved in economic activities.

On the other hand, those with disabilities to move or use their hands and arms have an economic participation rate of 30.2%. As for people with disabilities to eat, dress or bathe, only 16.1% are employed.

Sources of income

Of every 100 pesos earned by people with disabilities, 39% comes from government programs. In contrast, people without disabilities only obtain 13% of every 100 pesos from this source, according to INEGI data.

More than 80% of the income of people without limitations in Mexico comes from their work, while for people with disabilities, this sector only represents 40.2% of their income.

This shows the marginalization of this group in the labor market and in productive activities, two crucial social rights for their personal and community development.

Women with disabilities face a greater challenge in terms of access to employment, since only 30% of their income comes from their work, while the rest comes from government benefits or external support.

Job insecurity

In addition to exclusion in terms of access to labor rights, there are also notable (and much more significant) differences in terms of job security and the types of jobs they are in.

Out of every 100 individuals with a hearing or speech disability, only 19 have paid jobs in the formal sector. In the case of people with motor disabilities, the figure is 14 out of every 100. Cognitive or mental disabilities are the most disadvantaged, affecting 13 out of every 100 people in this situation.

People with motor disabilities have an 11% higher risk of not receiving paid vacation days compared to those without disabilities. For those with visual limitations, the risk of not having health insurance is 13% higher than for the non-disabled population.

Those with multiple disabilities are up to 25% more likely to lack a written contract, paid vacation days, and health insurance, according to the CONAPRED (Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación) report.


Miscellaneous data

  • It is estimated that approximately 12% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean lives with at least one disability, equivalent to about 66 million individuals.
  • All countries and territories in the Region have signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention has been ratified by 341 nations.
  • Seventeen countries have committed to accede to the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities.
  • People with disabilities are 2 to 4 times more likely to die during disasters and emergencies than those without disabilities.

Many health services are inaccessible to persons with disabilities due to unreachable facilities, communication barriers, lack of professional training, and economic limitations.

Why promote inclusion?

Discrimination triggers inequalities that restrict economic development. Inclusive societies improve productivity and economic vitality. According to CONAPRED, anti-discrimination policies should encompass economic decisions and close gaps for the general welfare.

It is vital to raise awareness about these situations to aspire to a society where everyone has equal value and people with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else.

Did you read: Web Accessibility: Towards Digital Inclusion part two, we recommend: Workplace harassment: how it is punished

If you want to learn more about these topics, we invite you to follow us on all our platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

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