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Re: Adapting Material For Varying Reading Levels

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 09:49:26 -0700
Message-Id: <4.1.19990629093253.01b9a6e0@mail.idyllmtn.com>
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Cc: Patrick Burke <burke@ucla.edu>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 06:51 AM 6/29/1999 , Anne Pemberton wrote:
>	The graphics that indicate the various levels aren't distinct, so children
>may have to guess to find their level, but the beginner's level is the
>first, so kids who cannot read the word "beginners" are likely to start
>there anyway. Maybe picture of different size/age people would help. A
>picture of a youngster for Beginners, a picture of a middle-schooler for
>Intermediate, a picture of a older teenager for advanced, and a picture of
>an adult/teacher for Instructor. The word "easy" could be used instead of
>"beginners". 

What about limited readers who are adults?  This is similar to the
reason why text-only version of a site shouldn't be labeled with
a wheelchair or say "for disabled users" -- because not all
disabled users want a text-only site, and not everyone who might
be using non-graphical browsers is disabled.  Likewise, I'd
imagine that reading level can vary a LOT and not just by age
(I read far above my age level all through school); so an age-
based metaphor for the various levels doesn't seem appropriate.

Perhaps instead you could use different heights/numbers of stacked
books?  There's no easy, universal way to indicate the concept
of "literacy level" with a _simple_ graphic, but you may be able
to get the concept across with something that visibly "increases."
Right now, these images only differ by color, and that's not
very useful.  (They might as well be big round circles.)

[When I say "you" I don't mean that Patrick or anyone else has
access to change the pages, I'm just looking at this from a
theoretical standpoint.]

Under "beginners", some of the words seemed a bit "complex" to
me and the graphics non-intuitive, such as the strange ball that
represents "atmosphere".  (I could understand it because I know
what "atmosphere" means, but the image didn't help in my
comprehension much.)

Once I got into the site -- e.g. to read about "atmosphere" --
the content seemed understandable enough that I'd feel comfortable
sending a child or limited reading adult to the site, except that
the navigation features seem to be lacking.  A lot of complex
terms are introduced in the Table of Contents, with no graphical
clues to meaning, but fortunately you can just click on "the
next one" on the list without needing to understand it all.

A graphical navigation button with directional arrows for 
forward and backwards at the bottom of the page would be nice,
even for those of us who _can_ read.  "Tape recorder" style
icons are generally well-understood and I think whenever
possible, graphics for "next" and "back" buttons need to
look like arrows or triangles.  (And should be placed at the
END of content, not at the TOP, a problem I also had with the
WCAG Curriculum slides.)

--
Kynn Bartlett                                    mailto:kynn@hwg.org
President, HTML Writers Guild                    http://www.hwg.org/
AWARE Center Director                          http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 13:26:03 GMT

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