Kiandra Insights

Designing for users that are deaf and hard-of-hearing

Cassie Wallace - Kiandra Head of Software Development
Cassie Wallace
Head of Software Development
October 27, 2022
Cassie Wallace
Head of Software Development
October 27, 2022
Designing for users who are deaf or hard of hearing - a Kiandra series on accessible design

In Australia, 1 in 6 people currently experience hearing loss—the Australian government expects the number of people with a hearing impairment to double to an estimated 7.8 million people in 2060

Most people experience some degree of hearing loss as they get older. It is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease and/or heredity and the experience of having a hearing disability, from minor hearing loss and tinnitus to total deafness, is individual to each person.

According to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): “Some people with auditory disabilities can hear sounds but sometimes not sufficiently to understand all speech, especially when there is background noise. This can include people using hearing aids.”

Accessibility for auditory disabilities

Designing for those deaf and hard-of-hearing can be easy and inexpensive, for example, the most common solution is adding captions whenever a sound appears. Essentially, making a website, or software more accessible to those experiencing deafness or hearing loss, makes your digital spaces more accessible, and you’ll reach more people. We’ve put together a list of what to be aware of when designing for users with auditory disabilities.

Designing for users that are deaf and hard-of-hearing

  • Include closed captioning on all video content.
  • Test accuracy and synchronisation of captions with audio.
  • Identify different speakers in video subtitles or transcripts.
  • Make a volume control available on video, including mute and unmute.
  • Use the correct decibel levels to ensure any audio is clear.
  • Ensure audio is of high quality by avoiding poor microphones and background noise.
  • Thoughtful placement of captioning so it does not obscure content on the page.
  • Allow users to change the caption font size, colour and background.
  • Make it clear to a user that caption controls are available by placing them in a predictable location.
  • Consider providing transcripts of video content.
  • Don't make the telephone the only method of contact.
  • Allow people to specify how they want to be contacted by asking for a preferred communication method.
  • If face-to-face interaction is required, allow the user to request communication support or advise that they are bringing their own support.
  • Write in plain English as it’s a second language to sign language users.
  • Design a linear and logical layout.
  • Provide alternatives to audio-only notifications or alerts.
  • When designing for mobile, ensure you cater to device accessibility options to leverage the phone’s functionality.

We have created an infograph to help illustrate what to be aware of when designing and developing for people deaf or hard of hearing: Designing for users that are deaf and hard-of-hearing

If you are keen to reach more people by making your digital assets more accessible, Contact Us today and we can help you make this happen.

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