The Epilepsy Foundation, a national nonprofit with more than 50 local organizations throughout the U.S., has been advocating for people and families impacted by epilepsy since 1968. Their mission is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. One way they strive to fulfill this mission is by extending public outreach and events surrounding National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM) in November. This initiative aims to promote global awareness of the fourth most common neurological disease, boost research efforts, and increase timely diagnoses through local and national events and social media campaigns.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, approximately 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. That means that more people live with epilepsy than with autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy — combined.
Although those numbers are staggering, it is important to remember that people living with epilepsy are flourishing members of our society and business communities. They must, however, use the internet with caution because some websites use design elements that can trigger certain types of epileptic seizures. Luckily, making your website accessible and safe for people with epilepsy is simple.
Mitigating Risks with WCAG 2.0 Recommendations
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 offer tips for tailoring a website to accommodate epileptic users.
- Flashing Content: WCAG 2.0 suggests that any flashing content, which can trigger some types of seizures, be presented at a slow flash rate of fewer than three flashes per second. For example, if a clip or movie depicts a rapidly flashing scene, such as a strobe light at a recorded concert, WCAG 2.0 recommends that this content be slowed so that the flash rate falls below three per second.
- Color: WCAG 2.0 proposes that websites temper the color choices of their flash-based imagery — such as avoiding bright, intense red shades — as intense colors can amplify the illusion of the flash and trigger a reaction.
- User Controls: A final safeguard is to allow site visitors to establish their own flash rate or disable flash content altogether during their visit.
National Epilepsy Awareness Month should serve as a reminder to all businesses with an online presence that there are simple steps they can take to make sure their websites offer an accessible experience for the 3.4 million people in the U.S. (and 64 million people worldwide) with epilepsy. With web accessibility lawsuits on the rise, it is time to ensure your website is engaging and safe for users living with epilepsy.
For more information on how to make your website more accessible for all users, please contact us or request our confidential and obligation-free WCAG 2.0 AA Automated Report for a quick overview of your website’s accessibility.