Visual Disabilities


Visual disabilities range from mild or moderate vision impairment (“low vision” or “partial sight”) to substantial and uncorrectable loss of vision in both eyes (“blindness”) 1.

Not everyone who’s experiencing a visual disability sees the world as blurry. Some have what can best be described as large black areas in their vision, but the areas where they can see are clear.

Some people have Color Vision Deficiency (CVD), formerly called colorblindness, or increased sensitivity to excessive brightness in colors. A person’s ability to see color can be independent of how well their eyes can focus or their field of vision.

When we talk about accessibility issues on the web we often think of visual disabilities first, because they often need the most accommodation to provide access.

It is very rare for anyone’s vision disability to resemble closing your eyes or having a blindfold tied around your head. Even profoundly blind people often can make out different colors or light levels, just not clearly enough to function as well as people without visual disabilities.

Examples of visual disabilities

Visual disabilities include 1:


  • In 2023, the World Health Organization estimated that globally, at least 2.2 billion people have either near or distance vision impairment 2.
  • The leading causes of vision impairment and blindness globally are refractive errors (such as nearsightedness and farsightedness) and cataracts, followed by diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration 2.
  • As of 2016, 7 million people (2.4% of the population) in the United States were reported to have a visual disability 3.
  • Of those, 29% are employed full-time, illustrating the difficulty many face holding unemployment with low or no vision 3.
  • Because we cannot detect screen readers or similar technology (nor should we, necessarily), it is impossible to estimate exactly how many users with visual disabilities are using our website.

Technology Examples

Find the Invisible Cow is a web-based game that only uses audio to play.


  1. Diverse Abilities and Barriers by the WAI[][]
  2. Blindness and Vision Impairment by the World Health Organization, dated 10 August 2023[][]
  3. Blindness Statistics by the National Federation of the Blind[][]