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  7. Complex or Compound Disabilities

Complex or Compound Disabilities


There is no “one disability per person” limit.

Consider some of these possible combinations:

  • Someone with Multiple Sclerosis who experiences symptoms of visual, physical, and cognitive disabilities as part of their disease.
  • Someone Deafblind.
  • Someone with Diabetes.
  • Someone with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) may first experience physical disabilities and progress into speech disabilities. 
  • Fibromyalgia can cause both cognitive and physical disability symptoms.

When we design, we can’t assume that a user has only one disability, or that there’s only one level of profoundness to their disabilities.

Accessibility, then, is rooted to an individual’s specific needs.

Design Considerations

Because it’s impossible to predict the many ways that disabilities can stack on top of each other, and because we can’t design in detail for infinite combinations, the best way we can serve our users is to:

  • Ensure that we provide designs with clear Information Architecture and Navigation
  • Provide webpages that are based on semantic HTML, HTML Standards, WCAG Guidelines, and CSS Standards so that accessibility features built into browsers have the highest opportunity to function.
  • Ensure that pages are uncluttered and that content goals are clear and simple.

In other words, the better our overall design and development process, the further we open the door to access.

Additional Resources