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.

Accessible Comics

A black graphic style demon sits on a person laying on the ground with the text of We're accessible! The person says Horray.Most people would not think about making a comic accessible for people with a vision impairment. Comics are, after all, very visual. The article from axesslab has two short videos showing the before and after treatment of a comic strip. The best that has been achieved in this area so far is basic alt-texts that are picked up by screen reader. They tend to just say things like “background”.

The accessible comic reads well thought out alt-texts which explain what’s happening visually and what’s written in the text. A bit like audio description for documents. The comic is “100 Demon Diaries” and the article was found on the axesslab website, which is a good example of web design – love the large text.