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Accessible Forms for Deaf People?

Many website owners do not realize that many deaf and hard of hearing people get frustrated with online forms. Why would someone who can see the form and is able to fill out the fields still get frustrated with it? Especially visitors who make online orders or try to contact an organization or an individual for more information, and not necessarily those with hearing problems?

Here’s an example of a form you may see:

Online Form Example

At first, the form may look normal, but many people who cannot use phone or don’t like using it are at disadvantage. It is the main issue with deaf and hard of hearing visitors. Even though many of them can talk on phone via a relay service operator, they can do that only within their country and also get frustrated with many businesses hanging up on them. For these reasons, many deaf/hoh people prefer emailing, texting, instant messaging to communicate with hearing parties directly.

There are many examples of inaccessible forms, so I would show only one of Macy’s website that not only requires a phone number, but also has an option to call on phone while the online chat is disabled:

Macy's Website Online Form with Error Messages

Many deaf and hard of hearing people get so annoyed with phone number fields that have astericks, and the following are links to some of articles about their experiences:

The main reason we hate using phone via relay services is that businesses often hang up on us. Also, it’s not convenient to use phone when on road (with possibilities of low or no data signals in certain areas) or being interrupted at the wrong time. We don’t like having phone tags either – when we leave a message, they leave another message asking to call them again. And when using relay services, there’s some delay in conversations due to a third party relaying messages between us and hearing parties. To say nothing when calling customer services who put us on long holds – it’s also one of reasons why hearing people hate using phone. For these reasons, many of us put the zeros in phone number fields.

So how to solve the problem? Read the Online Forms – No To Asterisks for Phone Numbers to learn about how to make online forms usable for everyone regardless of abilities or communication preferences.

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