Skip to content
Access Advisors logo - home

Temporary and Situational Access Needs of a New Mum

When explaining the breadth of digital access needs we most certainly focus on, and take the time to discuss, the permanent needs of people with disabilities. But, digital access needs also go much wider. There are also temporary access needs that won't last forever, such as having a broken arm. And there are also situational access needs that are caused by the situation you are in at a certain space in time. 

Mother's Day on Sunday is a perfect opportunity to illustrate some non-permanent access needs.

Baby Chandra being cuddled by Granny Esther

Nursing mum

So, let's consider a mother of a new born who is nursing her child late at night. Let’s also assume that she is responding to emails or browsing the Internet to keep herself awake/amused. Let’s also assume that there are other household members trying to sleep at the same time. At this point in time and in this situation, our new mum is more than likely to be experiencing several different digital access needs.

Cognitive issues

It is highly likely that our new mum is tired if not exhausted, and may even be a bit stressed. Hopefully, this is a temporary thing. Let’s be honest, most parents are tired, but new mum’s probably more so.

As a result she will likely have some mild to medium temporary cognitive problems, depending on the amount of stress and sleep. And as a result of that, she may struggle to focus or remember details etc. This would also apply to using her phone late at night.

Considering and designing for these temporary and situational digital access needs can help our new mum as well as people with permanent access needs. For example, using clean and concise layouts and not forcing users to rely on their memory would really help.

Dexterity Issues

While nursing our new mum will also likely only have full use of one arm/hand, at least at some point. As a result she will have dexterity and physical access needs which make interacting with her phone more difficult.

She may choose to use speech input instead, but that’ll depend on the other household members. Using her mobile phone one handed can result in increased errors and difficulty accessing certain parts of the screen.

Considering and designing for one handed use of a mobile phone includes reducing the need to input information and having good target placement and spacing. Fixing these issues helps not only our new mum in this situation, but also people with permanent access needs.

Visual issues

If our new mum is nursing in a darkened room, she may also have low vision issues caused by the low light. She may struggle with poor colour contrast if the screen is dimmed, and need to adjust the brightness to not disturb the baby.

Low light and low vision issues like this are temporary, but we probably all experience them if we are looking at our phones in bed at night. Yes, I know it isn’t good for you, but I’m fairly certain many of us do check social channels and emails at night.

Ensuring that we have good high colour contrast between text and backgrounds will really help, not only our new mum, but all of us in low light or glare situations.

Auditory issues

Finally, while nursing late at night our new mum is also probably having to be careful to be quiet so as not to wake other household members. She is likely to have her phone volume turned right down or being very careful to avoid any unexpected noises.

As a result, during this time she has temporary hearing issues. If she is watching a video clip she will need captions as she won’t be able to have the volume up. And if she visits a website that has auto playing content then there are likely consequences of unexpected noise.

Again including captions for all video content, and ensuring that there is no auto playing content will help our nursing mum as well as anyone on their phones late at night.


Most mums who are nursing their new born children don’t care about digital accessibility. But they do have digital access needs that designers can address. By addressing these needs for our new mum you will also be helping those with permanent access needs.

So, let’s take the chance to say thanks to all the mothers out there for being so awesome at overcoming these temporary and situational needs. And if you’d like any help in finding or fixing any digital access issues with your digital platforms, get in touch. We’d love to help.