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Re: Cognition (was Re: Suggested issues that may be addressed in next version of guidelines)

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Tue, 03 Aug 1999 08:05:59 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
At 12:09 PM 8/3/1999 +1000, Jason White wrote:
>I agree with the sentiments that Chris has expressed. Research findings
>should be able to indicate what types of cognitive limitations exist, the
>kinds of communication strategies which have proved most effective in
>minimising their impact, etc. At this stage we do not appear to have broad
>agreement even in connection with such basic points. 

The most basic need is for graphics to be deliberately included on web
sites to aid understanding of the text. We have gone off on a tangent as to
whether or how to replace text with all graphics, but the most basic need
is for the graphics to be there, whether they replace all text, or just
clarify the main ideas. 

The next question
>would be, which solutions are best applicable universally, across the web
>as a whole, and ought therefore to be included in the guidelines. We
>already have one such proposal, namely the priority 1 checkpoint which
>demands that language be kept as clear and straightforward as possible,

This is a very subjective checkpoint. Of the many web sites that have been
shown as examples of those complying with priority one and two, few had
language was far from "clear and straightforward" through the eyes of
someone with a moderate or significant cognitive disability. 

>and a priority 3 suggestion that graphical supplements are a suitable aid
>to comprehension where applicable and appropriate. 

This needs to be much stronger to be of any help to cognitively disabled
folks. The graphics MUST BE THERE.  In order for some users to access the
content of the web, the graphics must be turned off. In order for other
users to access the content of the web, the text must be turned on. If the
text is turned off, and there is non content, then the web shouldn't be
given a "compliance" rating at any priority level. At present, a web site
that contains nothing but text, can get a compliance rating. This shouldn't
be. A web site without graphics locks out too many disabled users. 

Over the weekend, I spent some time on the web gathering sources to use in
homeschooling an 8 yr old. One of the sites that shows promise is
www.seaworld.com This site contains a significant number of images of sea
life, as well as details on each animal. Unfortunately, the site was set up
to put all the images in one place, and all the descriptions in another.
The descriptions are all-text without a picture of the animal being
described even tho the site does contain a picture of the animal that
belongs on the description page. For reasons I cannot fathom, those who
create web sites are not following the most basic of structures used in
children's books and picture books & magazines for older folks, putting the
graphics on the page with (or facing) the text it applies to.  

For those who want research, let Jonathan's folks access the
www.seaworld.com site and let Jonathan report back on the experience. This
will help us understand what is needed, in addition to just adding
graphics, to make a site accessible for Jonathan's cognitively disabled


Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Tuesday, 3 August 1999 07:54:35 UTC

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