RE: ACTION-78: Add techneques for autisim to (Cognitive Accessibility Task Force)

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for that info, and for your good memory.

Yes, long ago, I cited on the “Research sources” page, all of the articles you listed. See

The one exception is the article you listed as having “interesting ideas”. I found an active version at In my opinion, none of the techniques listed are unique to people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Thus, I did not add any to our techniques page.

I don’t feel comfortable adding the techniques authored by Kate Deibel and Katherine Mancuso. I will rely upon them to add those themselves.

I also reviewed the “real problems” Kate informed us about the WebAIM guidelines. I thus agree they should not be included on our techniques page. For everyone’s convenience, the following are Kate’s concerns.

Sent: Monday, June 02, 2014 11:40 AM
Subject: Re: Short comment on autisim in the gap analysis

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

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.
<End Kate’s message>


John Rochford<>
UMass Medical School/E.K. Shriver Center
Director, INDEX Program
Instructor, Family Medicine & Community Health
Twitter: @ClearHelper<>
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From: lisa.seeman []
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2015 3:38 AM
To: Rochford, John
Subject: RE: ACTION-78: Add techneques for autisim to (Cognitive Accessibility Task Force)

We asked web aim for information about how much these guidelines were tested or based on reasech . We did not hear back from them. We can not recommend information that we do not know is reliable, or we have not reached consistences on whether we accept it. Kate cited some real problems with some of their suggestions.

At the time we also had the following links recommended. Hopefully they were cited

This is Katherine's work about autism: these included in the user research? If not they should be reviewed for useful content.

There are some interesting ideas on - this is no longer active so you may need to look around for the content. (It was sent to the list a year ago)

Also -Sources on ADD/ADHD and Autisim  from Katherine Mancuso
 This is from STEM education for NSF.

(This link may require you to register first)

 LD/ADHD stuff:

Because all of this is about STEM education, some of the accommodations relate specifically to computer use.

All the best

Lisa Seeman

Athena ICT Accessibility Projects<>
LinkedIn<>, Twitter<>

---- On Fri, 13 Mar 2015 17:02:13 +0200 Rochford<<>> wrote ----

Hi Lisa,

I don't know of techniques unique to people with Autism. That is why, in the Autism Gap Analysis<>, I listed the techniques of WebAIM’s Cognitive Web Accessibility Checklist<>. Thus, I cannot add a subset of Autism-specific techniques to our master list.

We may want to consider adding WebAIM’s techniques to the superset that applies to all people with cognitive disabilities.


John Rochford<>
UMass Medical School/E.K. Shriver Center
Director, INDEX Program
Instructor, Family Medicine & Community Health<>
Twitter: @ClearHelper<>


-----Original Message-----
From: Cognitive Accessibility Task Force Issue Tracker []
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2015 12:11 PM
To: Rochford, John
Subject: ACTION-78: Add techneques for autisim to (Cognitive Accessibility Task Force)

ACTION-78: Add techneques for autisim to (Cognitive Accessibility Task Force)

On: John Rochford

Due: 2015-03-02

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Received on Sunday, 15 March 2015 13:47:01 UTC