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RE: Diabetes websites too complicated

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 09:54:49 -0400
To: "'Mike Brown'" <mike@signify.co.nz>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <003401c49a62$681cd8d0$6601a8c0@bosshog>

Mike Brown wrote:
> Is the "reading age" of a site, assuming it can be measured,
> an accessibility issue? Is there a limit to how far
> information can be "simplified" before it loses its usefulness?


Readability is most certainly an access / accessibility issue.  In the
many seminars and presentations we deliver, we always remind the
audience that there are numerous types of accessibility issues, which
can be broken down into 4 basic groups:  visual, auditory, mobility and
(the hardest of all) cognitive.  

Cognitive issues can be as severe as Downs Syndrome or other severe
learning conditions (see Jonathan Chetwynd's Peepo site for ideas and
attempts to connect to this community - http://www.peepo.com/help.html
[1]), to less invasive or restricting issues such as Dyslexia, users
who's mother tongue is not that of the site, age or literacy levels,
etc.  Readability can be measured (to an extent) using any number of
algorithms or indexes, the most well-known being the Flesch-Kincaid
Grade Level Score (see our site:

However, as you suggest, the issue becomes one of providing appropriate
yet useful information targeted to the appropriate audience; "dumbing
down" the content  below a certain level impacts on a site's usefulness
just as severely as a site that is too complex.  Large web sites,
especially those with broad or mass appeal are always well advised to
employ an actual editor (of the human kind <grin>) to review content and
content language to ensure that the "message" is properly crafted to the
their readers.


John Foliot  foliot@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
http://www.wats.ca   1.866.932.4878 (North America) 

[1] Although I often disagree with Jonathan's methodology and use of
non-standard authoring techniques, many which contravene the letter and
occasionally the spirit of *my reading* of the WCAG, his efforts to
connect to a specific, disadvantaged community far outweighs these
issues, and I commend him for his efforts and contributions.
Received on Tuesday, 14 September 2004 13:54:59 UTC

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