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Accessibility and learning/cognitive disabilities

From: Terry Brainerd Chadwick <tbchad@tbchad.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 21:17:20 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
I will be participating in a roundtable on accessibility next week and want 
to specifically address the issues of accessibility for people with 
cognitive and learning difficulties.  Like many others, I have been 
focusing my website accessibility training on the WCAG and Section 508 
standards.  Last week's discussion on inclusion, and the lack thereof for 
people with learning disabilities, along with Kynn's statement today that 
all-text sites aren't accessible to people with reading difficulties, has 
piqued my interest in the subject.

I attended a Section 508 training on October 30th that had accessibility 
experts from the US Access Board, Department of Justice, and Department of 
Education and raised the question of website accessibility for people with 
learning difficulties. The response was that Section 508 doesn't cover 
accessibility issues for people with learning and cognitive difficulties 
because it is extremely hard (impossible?) to define what is accessible for 
someone with a second grade reading level, for someone else who has autism ...

Is there some way to define some standards that encompass the diverse needs 
of people with cognitive and learning difficulties?

I have read the W3C WAI document on "How People with Disabilities Use the 
Web."  It provides a couple of scenarios that address this issue.  I would 
like to hear more examples about how people with cognitive and learning 
difficulties use the web, as well as some ideas of standards and guidelines 
that I can give web technicians .  The thing I hear most from web 
technicians -- I'm using the term technician because most of the people I'm 
working with are maintaining websites, adding and updating content, rather 
than doing the design -- is "Just tell me how to code it."  I know that 
making websites accessible is much more than "just coding," but I would 
like to be able to provide some coding related guidelines on this issue.

Terry Chadwick
InfoQuest! Information Services
Received on Thursday, 1 November 2001 00:17:01 UTC

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