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Re: Short comment on autisim in the gap analysis

From: Katherine Deibel <katherine.deibel@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2014 08:39:30 -0700
Message-ID: <538C9AB2.1060906@gmail.com>
To: public-cognitive-a11y-tf@w3.org
In general, I'm always hesitant to cite (or even recommend) WebAIM's 
recommendations on cognitive disabilities. The lack of cited research is 
one factor, but a larger problem for me are the unscientific examples 
given in the reading section. This balderdash taints the rest of the advice.

Let me explain what I mean by balderdash. Currently, the example box 
under the Reading, Linguistic, and Verbal Comprehension section gives 
two examples. The first plays around with spacing in the Hamlet quote 
"To be or not to be." One can click to see the same phrase next to a 
picture of Shakespeare and this somehow alleviates the problem of poor 
spelling. Sure, this works if one assumes the reader has this huge 
storehouse of cultural knowledge. This might be compelling if it were 
not for the fact that the phrase is very simple. What if we take a 
popular quote from Ulysses by James Joyce? Would that make it easier to 
understand? I doubt it. Furthermore, what is one to gain from this 
example? You can ignore spacing assuming you provide contextual information?

The second example given on the WebAIM page is a link to a personal 
website that talks about scrambled text and how we apparently only pay 
attention to the first and last letters in words (or the first two and 
last two). This is pretty much a continuation of an Internet folklore 
forward: http://www.snopes.com/language/apocryph/cambridge.asp

Pretty much all examples showing how scrambled text can be read just 
fine rely upon short common words. The moment you get into more 
domain-specific text or more complex text, the effect breaks down. 
Additionally, correct reading alone is a poor measure! Reading speed is 
certainly affected. If one's reading is already labored---as occurs with 
disabilities like dyslexia---then further reductions are a bad thing.

A while back, I started putting together a breakdown of the scrambled 
text meme, but then I found this really comprehensive web article with 

These odd-spacing example and scrambled text examples do nothing to help 
illustrate what reading disabilities are like. In fact, they suggest 
that reading is this super skill that can easily adapt to problems with 
minimal consequences. The actual suggestion here for designers is that 
readers will compensate on their own... which is very problematic.

I mentioned on a phone call before that we need to be careful not to 
replicate bad information. These WebAIM examples are such hot potatoes 
that we must let drop.

Kate Deibel, PhD

URL:      http://staff.washington.edu/deibel


"To make a difference, one must subtract one number from another."

On 2014-06-01 8:06 AM, lisa.seeman wrote:
> Hi
> I was having a look at the autism section of the gap analysis. A lot
> more content has been added - well done.
> Are we comfortable using  material from webaim articles as source
> information for guidelines for autism? The article in question talks
> about cognitive accessibility in general and does not site research. I
> am not sure we can site that as examples for the section specifically on
> autism.
> Also for the persona from UX magazine is copyrighted, so I suggest we
> remove it. (We need to be careful with directly copying.)
> All the best
> Lisa Seeman
> Athena ICT Accessibility Projects
> <http://accessibility.athena-ict.com/default.shtml>
> LinkedIn <http://il.linkedin.com/in/lisaseeman/>, Twitter
> <https://twitter.com/SeemanLisa>
Received on Monday, 2 June 2014 20:58:20 UTC

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