ACCESSIBLE WEB DEV: Designing to Accommodate Folks with Hand Tremors

Illustration of Human Hands Holding Mobile Phones

There is an accessibility design flaw on most responsive websites that affects users who experience hand tremors.

Problem: There is not enough space between touch targets on mobile devices for folks who suffer hand tremor issues. These users need some un-clickable screen space between touch targets…an area where they can place a finger to steady their hand so they can successfully scroll the screen without activating a link by mistake.

Why is this important?

According to UX and accessibility specialist Hampus Sethfors of axess lab:

“For a lot of people with hand tremors – caused by for instance Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor – unintentional clicks happen all the time. Especially while scrolling on a touch screen. If you think about it, touch screen scrolling requires a lot of fine motor control. You need to place your finger on the correct part of the screen, flick it at the right speed and in the right direction, and most importantly: keep it on the screen at all times during this gesture. Many web and app interfaces are designed in a way that causes big problems for users who have a hard time with this scroll gesture.”

Advice to all website designers and developers of responsive websites from a user with Parkinson’s disease

“Add some space between the different objects so that I can put my finger down without activating something.”

Solution: Add a bit of unclickable space between each touch target on the page.

Example that fails: Difficult mobile layout for user with hand tremors to navigate

Mobile phone screen layout that is difficult for user with hand tremors to navigate

Example that passes: 60 pixels of vertical space between content objects makes it easier for the user with hand tremors to anchor a finger so they can scroll the mobile screen.

Mobile screen layout that's easier for the user with hand tremors to navigate



WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY TESTING & REMEDIATION SERVICES: Mary Gillen is an experienced Website Accessibility Compliance Auditor and Remediator. She can test your website to determine if it meets accessibility standards:

WCAG 2.1: 312 checkpoints covering A, AA and AAA W3 accessibility guidelines
Section 508: 15 US federal guidelines covered by 59 accessibility checkpoints

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