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Re: Accessibility and learning/cognitive disabilities

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 16:51:48 -0500
Message-Id: <200111012150.QAA1459542@smtp1.mail.iamworld.net>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 12:17 AM 2001-11-01 , Terry Brainerd Chadwick wrote:

> 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.  


On the first point, you could look at the rapid rundown Simon Evans gave us
archived at


On the second point, you should probably be forthright about what is not
known.  The content guidelines Working Group is still struggling with this
issue and it's not clear the answer is lying around anywhere in plain view
that they have missed.

My personal suspicion is that to capture what is effective at least for
some LD groups, one has to get out of the box of Web-Technical thinking and
think in Media Criticism language such as may be practiced in
Communications faculties.  Where the cardinal points are things like Quake,
Shrek and Pokemon, not ALT,  LONGDESC and LABEL.


>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 16:50:09 UTC

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