Research and analysis

Christopher: user with rheumatoid arthritis

Published 25 October 2017

I’m training my software to understand my voice commands. In the meantime, I’ll carry on using a keyboard to get around websites as it’s less painful than a mouse.

Christopher is 53 and lives with his wife Helen in Manchester. They’ve just become grandparents for the first time.

Christopher works as management accountant for a local food manufacturing company. He’s been working there for 22 years.

He developed rheumatoid arthritis 10 years ago. His company assesses his workspace every year and make sure he has what he needs.

Devices and technology

Christopher uses a desktop computer at work and a keyboard with a wrist rest. He has programmed some shortcuts into his keyboard, and prefers those to his trackball mouse (which is painful to use after a while).

He has just tried out Dragon NaturallySpeaking (speech recognition software). He thinks it may work well for him, and he’s going to invest more time in ‘training’ it to understand his voice.

He has a basic mobile phone for calls. He thinks there’s no point in him getting a smartphone that he can’t use.

Goals and wishes

Christopher wants more software to work properly with just the keyboard. He’s been trying to find some a way to make a calendar with baby pictures, but all the sites he’s tried only work with a mouse.

When he’s fully proficient in Dragon NaturallySpeaking, he wants to be able to use any website at all.


It’s annoying for Christopher when he can’t use certain parts of a website with a keyboard, like video players and navigation menus.

It takes him a while to fill out forms, and he hates it when they time out without much warning.

He wastes a lot of time trying to tab through things like navigation menus. He’d love to have fewer things to tab through in general.

He sometimes has problems with pop-up boxes. This happens most when a pop-up appears but the tab control stays on the background page, meaning he can’t interact with the pop-up or close it.

Making things better for Christopher

What to do Further reading
Make sure all parts of your service or website work for people who use a keyboard instead of a mouse or trackpad. Dump your mouse for an hour, on the GDS Accessibility blog.

Keyboard-only navigation for improved accessibility, by Nielsen Norman Group.
Test your service to make sure you avoid specific issues for keyboard users, like focus order and keyboard traps. Keyboard accessibility, guidance by WebAIM.

Testing for keyboard accessibility, guidance by 18F.
Don’t have time limits on forms. Let people save what they’re doing or extend the time limit. Providing accessible time limits, guidance by the University of Washington.
Test that your service works with speech recognition software. Accessibility and testing with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, guidance from the BBC Accessibility team.
Include features that make it easy for users to complete forms - for example, have an ‘address lookup’ so users only need to enter their postcode and house number. Ask users for addresses, a pattern in the GOV.UK Design System.

More reading

You may find the following resources useful:

Statistics about disability

Almost 1 in 5 people (around 19% of the population) in the UK have a disability. The likelihood of having a disability increases the older you get.

Nearly 700,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis.

There are nearly 7 million people with disabilities who are of working age - nearly 19% of the working population.