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Support for cognitive disabilities

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <po@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 10:25:38 -0600
To: "'GL - WAI Guidelines WG'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <D088364DDC78D211B9CA00104B978B8633D3@nt.trace.wisc.edu>
During the teleconference last week, the "Support for Cognitive
Disabilities" issue was discussed. The working members on the call felt that
we covered the basic issues for cognitive disabilities, but we wanted to
bring to the list a discussion of the priority levels of those items.
The following excerpt is from the Guidelines open issues list (at:


We are concerned that there is not a P1 checkpoint specifically for
cognitive disability concerns but the group could not come up with any
others that didn't seem to already be covered (at their base level - they
will be expanded on in the techniques doc).    During the teleconference we
discussed B.3.1 and B.3.2 as possible checkpoints to raise in priority.

Checkpoint B.3.1 is currently a Priority 2. Could it be raised to Priority

"Use the simplest and most straightforward language that is possible for the
content of your site. [Priority 2] "

1. We will be requiring people to use "as simple as possible" language.
2. It is hard to determine if people follow. However, we don't rate things
based on how easy it is to comply with but on how necessary it is for
3. On some sites, simplifying the vocabulary means a loss of precision. Will
the wording of this guideline address this problem or will people just
complain that their sites don't lend themselves to simple language?
4. This is similar to what the HTML 4 working group went through with ABBR
and ACRONYM. They aren't defined that differently in the dictionary, people
have different interpretations and UAs already had various implementations.
Therefore, they decided they didn't need to define the difference between
them nor outline how decide which to use; they left them both in.
5. With at least one of these as a Priority 1, we would show strong support
for cognitive disabilities.

Checkpoint B.3.2 is currently a Priority 3, but might be a Priority 2.

"Use icons or graphics (with alternative text) where they facilitate
comprehension of the page. [Priority 3] "

1. Should not be a Priority 1 because it is sometimes harder to interpret
images rather than words.
2. Increasing the priority to at least 2 might decrease the perception that
we say "images are bad, don't use them."

We also considered giving one or both a variable priority, along the lines
of, "If the information is important to understanding the page, make it a P1
otherwise P2."


The Editors
Received on Wednesday, 20 January 1999 11:20:40 UTC

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