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Re: Cognitive Disability

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Thu, 08 Nov 2001 09:56:14 -0500
Message-Id: <200111081453.JAA1920933@smtp1.mail.iamworld.net>
To: Terje Bless <link@pobox.com>, W3C WAI IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: Jonathan Chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
At 09:39 AM 2001-11-08 , Terje Bless wrote:
>On Thu, 2001-11-08 at 14:39, Al Gilman wrote:
>> At 08:10 AM 2001-11-08 , Terje Bless wrote:
>> >
>> >Hmmm, it occurs to me that this is likely to be the kind of
>> >accessibility issue I'll have the hardest time understanding. Anyone
>> >have any pointers to more information?
>> > 
>> AG::  My bookmark on this is stuck on the quick tour Simon Evans gave us at
>Hmmm. _I_ have severe problems navigating the sites he referenced! Is this
>an artifact of some sort of inverse cognitive disability effect at play?
>I know pretty much nothing about cognitive disabilities, but I would have
>guessed that it involved difficulty in understanding written language but
>(depending on severity) an ability to connect cause and effect and to
>recognize symbols, either through previously learned association or
>through learning-by-exploring.
>A common theme in all the sites referenced is use of line-drawings; mostly
>ill done, primitive, and not particularly suggestive. Pages are visually
>"noisy", with distracting animations, too many concepts per screen, and
>multiple similar controls (some non-functional, some with non-obvious
>effects). None seem to use general accessibility features such as @alt
>text or link @title. To me, that is...
>Is there some fundamental disconnect at work that makes these pages
>work well for people with cognitive disabilities but which seems counter-
>intuitive to me? If so, is it possible to extract a general set of rules
>from that observation? Would studying generic literature in the field
>help me understand the effects at work here better?

There is a simple broad disconnect visible in the above discussion.

The general trend you noticed is adaptive for people for whom "out of sight is
out of mind" is an above-average problem.

What you are assuming as modus_operendi is dependent on the user extracting a
model of the theme or context and carrying that stuff between frames of
in their head.  One general characteristic that these sites try to ameliorate
is to lessen dependency on that 'cognitive' part of the process.

My attempt at putting all this in a conceptual framework can be found at 

 HCI Fundamentals and PWD Failure Modes

>I work at a regional hospital so I may be able to draw on the expertise
>of people who work in the field. Would talking to professionals in the
>field be helpful? i.e. people without specific experience in computers
>or web, but with broad experience with cognitive disabilities in general.
>Are the issues sufficiently similar across mediums that I might be able
>to adapt their experience and knowledge to a web interface?

There is not simple model that spans what is adaptive for "all cognitive

Cognition is a whole additional layer, and more diverse than sensation and

But yes, learning from what is adaptive in activities of daily living will be
suggestive of what is adaptive in web content.
>Jonathan Chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com> wrote:
>>what type of information are you looking for?
>Anything that will give me a fighting chance to understand Cognitive
>Disabilities in general (from 10,000 feet), and the needs of people
>with various types and severities of such disabilities as relates to
>web design. I'm completely blank on the subject -- as opposed general
>accessibility where I at least have a fighting chance to understand
>with the help of the WAI materials and a little help :-) -- and don't
>really see any good way to attack the problem.

AG:: Your statement is broken where it comes to saying you can understand
"general accessibility" from the extant WAI materials.  Until you have helped
the WAI get its hands around remediation in cases of cognitive
disabilities, we
aren't there yet.


appears to give me some threads
>to follow, and I'll try to study the sites Al referenced to see if I
>can identify the mechanisms at work there.
> Thanks for the help, guys!
Received on Thursday, 8 November 2001 09:53:09 UTC

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