Cognitive disability digital accessibility guide

Front cover of the cognitive disability digital accessibility guide.The ability to access online content provides access to goods and services, and in COVID times, each other. But content on websites and smart phones is not user-friendly for everyone, particularly people with cognitive disability. However, digital communication is here to stay and it needs to be inclusive. The Cognitive Disability Digital Accessibility Guide explains the important aspects for organisations that publish documents online. 

The Guide is designed to provide practical, step-by-step information for designing and delivering effective best-practice digital communication. Some of the guidance is easy to do, for example, defining abbreviations and acronyms. The Guide provides useful information on:

    • How to support people with cognitive disabilities to use computers and mobile devices.
    • Developing documents structured and written in ways that support people with cognitive disabilities.
    • Guidance on policies and standards for people with cognitive disabilities in an organisational context.
    • Preparing communication messages for people with a cognitive disability.
    • Creating websites that support people with a cognitive disability.

The Guide also covers traditionally-implemented accessibility guidelines of WCAG 2.0 Level AA as well as looking at the increasing relevance of Level AAA requirements. It also delves into the role of affordable consumer devices such as tablets and helpful apps.

Of course, if the design is suitable for people with cognitive disability, there is a very good chance it is going suitable for everyone. This has been shown with the use of plain language summaries

Centre for Inclusive Design (formerly Media Access Australia) produced this guide. Although it was published in 2016, most of the information is still relevant. 

People with cognitive disabilities or impairments include: acquired brain injury, autism, dementia, developmental disability, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and learning difficulties in general.

Not Stupid, just Dyslexic

A boy sits at a desk, pen in hand ready to write on the paper.Going out of your way to find a solution for one group of people doesn’t always work. That’s what they found when they tried to find the best solutions for helping people with dyslexia. It turned out that the best solutions were those that made reading easier for everyone – the universal design approach. The special reading and writing solutions set them apart and made people “feel stupid”. The conclusion of this study therefore advises that it is better to work within the universal design paradigm than try to develop separate materials for people with dyslexia. The title of the paper is, “I’m not Stupid” – Attitudes Towards Adaptation Among People with Dyslexia. It is available from SpringerLink but you will need institutional access for a free read. It is also a book chapter in International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction.

Abstract: A significant portion of the population have dyslexia, which is commonly associated with reading and writing difficulties. In the context of developing materials well-suited for users with reading disorders, one solution has been to develop materials especially targeted at dyslexic users. However, how are the attitudes among users with dyslexia towards adaptation? In this paper, we report the findings from qualitative interviews with 20 adults with dyslexia. The main finding was that they were sceptical towards adapted products, among others because it made them “feel stupid” and because the adapted format affected the reading experience negatively. In this paper we argue to instead work within the universal design paradigm, trying to develop products and services usable by all people, thus reducing the need for particular user groups to utilise “special solutions”.

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