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Re: How can we better accommodate learning disabilities?

From: Silas S. Brown <ssb22@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 21:50:41 +0000
To: "Leonard R. Kasday" <kasday@acm.org>
CC: <w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <E10HaaC-0007G9-00@green.csi.cam.ac.uk>
I have seen some 80 people with severe learning disabilities (my father 
is an instructor at Bridport social education centre) and I'm sorry to 
say that they are probably incapable of understanding most information 
no matter what form it's put in (although of course it's possible that 
the ones I've seen were more severe cases than others are).  We can't 
make the whole web accessible to them any more than we can make it 
accessible to a very young child.  This is of course not to say that 
there can't be specialist web pages for them, and of course there are 
probably *some* pages out there that could be made more accessible to 
them.  (Anyone think they can hack out a graphical client for 
http://infinity.digital-web.net/~lionman/checkers.html ?  I fancy they 
might be weak players though.)

One problem is that computers are very complicated things, and perhaps 
people with learning difficulties can't form the concept of just how 
complicated they are.  This means that they had better not go wrong.  If 
they do (and print up a funny message), confusion will happen.  In the 
world of the Web there are zillions of things to go wrong.  "The server 
may be down or it is not responding", "The access gateway failed to 
retrieve the page", etc etc - I suppose you could have a graphic of the 
computer "falling asleep" or something but that would be a nightmare 
for the poor technician who has to wake it up.

Regards

-- Silas S Brown, St John's College Cambridge UK http://epona.ucam.org/~ssb22/

"Do not reveal the confidential talk of another" - Proverbs 25:9
Received on Monday, 1 March 1999 16:50:45 GMT

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