Have you ever been in a noisy room and not heard your mobile phone ring? That's an example of a situational disability.
Situational disability is a term used to describe a temporary state imposed by a person's current environment that results in an accessibility issue. It is not physiological or pathological like other disabilities.
Mobile devices are fast becoming the cheapest way for people to get online, but many disabled people are finding that these devices are also the cheapest way to buy modern assistive technology. Innovative assistive technologies are available for free with mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android.
Using mobile devices can be seen as being inherently disabling for any user: small screens with small text sizes, eyes-free use when driving a car, etc. These situational disabilities are creating shared mobile experiences for users irrespective of any disability. They are also driving innovation, helping to develop assistive technologies that are useful to all users. Software such as Siri, Apple's talking personal assistant, and features such as custom vibrations are essentially assistive technologies that are helpful to everyone.
If accessibility is about understanding people and the barriers that they face, this mainstreaming of such assistive technology helps to build more widespread empathy with people with disabilities. This can help you to get your own experience of accessibility helps you to put yourself in the shoes of others and keep accessibility in mind when building and testing your websites and applications.
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