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From: jonathan chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 16:56:00 +0100
Message-ID: <007601c1eba8$88011550$be6a27d9@JChadwick>
To: "jonathan chetwynd" <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>, "WAI List \(E-mail\)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
sorry attachment got lost about 3 pages:

Designing Websites for  

People with Learning Disabilities


1.      Summary




        Websites should be made so that everyone can use them.


        We have written some rules to help people make their websites easier to use.


        Tell us what you think about our rules by emailing us at webteam@mhf.org.uk 


The Rules


        Ask people with learning difficulties to help you make your website.


        Write a guide for your website, which tells people what your website is for and what is on it.


        Make sure the information on your website is accurate and interesting.


        Put the information on your website in an order that is easy to follow.


        Don't put too much information on one page.


        Use simple language that everyone can understand.


        Use the same design on all the pages and keep it simple and easy to understand.


        Put the most important information in the middle of the screen.


        Put things like buttons and links in the same place on each page, so that people know where to find them.


        Put these buttons on every page: Exit, Home, Help, Next Page, Last Page.


        Use pictures, colours and sounds to help people understand the information on your website.


        If you want, you can put things that people like to do on your site. Things like games.




2. Introduction


This document sets out some provisional guidelines for designing websites which are accessible to people with learning disabilities. 


The guidelines are based on research conducted on behalf of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities by Dr David J. Brown and John S. Lawton.  The research included input from a range of people with learning disabilities and was peer reviewed by members of Central England People First and staff from Mencap.  (Anthe University of East London.


In one or two areas, there was disagreement as to which option promoted greater accessibility. Where these differences occur, we have provided the alternative viewpoints.


We hope that these guidelines will stimulate discussion and further research into this issue. We also hope that web designers will use the guidelines to build better, more accessible websites.


A list of websites which meet some of these guidelines is given at the end of this document, along with sources of further information.  The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities website at www.learningdisabilities.org.uk does not yet meet all of these guidelines.


If you would like to comment on these guidelines please contact the Web Team at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, 7th Floor, 83 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0HW. Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7802 0300. Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7802 0301 Email webteam@mhf.org.uk or post a message on the bulletin board on the Foundation's website.



3. General Principles


         Bad website design takes almost as much time and effort as good website design.  If you are going to design a website, you might as well design a good one that is as accessible to as many people as possible

         Content is king.  If your site does not have up to date, accurate and interesting information, it is unlikely that anyone will want to visit it, no matter how accessible it is.

         All websites should be designed to follow the guidelines that have been developed as part of the W3 Web Accessibility Initiative (W3 WAI). While these do not yet include many guidelines that specifically benefit people with learning disabilities, it is important that sites are accessible to other disabled people. 

         If you are designing a website for people with learning disabilities, you should involve them throughout the design and evaluation process - in the same way that you would involve any other group of visitors. 

         There are many people with learning disabilities, each of whom has different needs and abilities.  What suits one person may not suit another. For example, some people with learning disabilities use sign systems such as Makaton, while others do not use sign systems of any kind.  This means that you may need to provide alternative versions of pages or even alternative versions of your whole site if you wish to meet the needs of a wide range of people with learning disabilities.

         At present many people with learning disabilities have limited access to computer hardware. For example, some people with learning disabilities only have access to old computers, with limited capabilities e.g. 486s with 14-inch monitors.  

         At present many people with learning disabilities have limited access to, or don't know how to use, some advanced applications and software, such as screen reading technology or Macromedia Flash. If you use this technology, you may need to inform your users how to use it.






4. Involving people with learning disabilities


People with learning disabilities should be involved throughout the process of creating a website e.g. helping to decide on the content, to write individual pages, to comment on the design and usability of the site.  They should also be involved in helping to maintain and develop the site on a regular basis e.g. providing feedback on new sections etc. 


In some cases, people with learning disabilities may prefer to develop their own websites.


5. User Guide


         You may find it useful to provide a user guide to your site.  This should explain what your site is trying to achieve and why it is designed the way it is. For example, how it is structured and how it facilitates learning and usage by people with learning disabilities.

         The user guide should include acknowledgements to people with learning disabilities who helped design, construct and evaluate your site. 

         There was disagreement as to whether the user guide should be part of the home page or on a page of its own.  Putting it on the home page makes it visible but may mean there is too much information to process on a single page.

         If appropriate, provide users with a quick tour of the site, highlighting key areas.


6. Content


         Put the content into logical sections and sequences that can be easily followed.. 

         Try to stick to one concept or idea per page.

         If your site is mainly aimed at people who are not used to reading very much, have a maximum of two or three text easy to read sentences per page.

         If your site is aimed at a wide range of people, provide an accessible summary at the top of the page, with links to alternative versions e.g. a version using symbols.

         Use plain English ie language which is simple and clear, and which has been checked by a range of people with learning disabilities to make sure they understand it.

         If necessary, clearly clarify what you meanuse paraphrases and analogies to explain what you mean.. Describing a likeness may help.

         Provide a wordbank ie a glossary of any difficult terms that are hard to understand.  The wordbank may include symbols, as well as words.


7. Navigation


         Avoid frames-based navigation systems.

         Use a consistentthe same navigation system throughout the site. For example, make buttons consistent the same shape, size and colour and position them in the same place on each page of the site.

         There was disagreement about where navigation buttons should be located. Some feel that the buttons should be at the bottom of the screen. Others feel they should be at the top or left hand side of the screen, especially as some people do not scroll down web pages.

         Put the main content information in the centre of the screen

         Provide a visual layout of the structure of the website i.e. a site map. 

         Make sure visitors always know where they are on the site. This can be done by use of a numbering system, icons, colours or breadcrumb trails. 

         Provide a menu that allows visitors to jump to any section and provide links between related contentinformation.

         If possible, make all pages no more than two or three mouse clicks away.

         Provide a 'next page, 'last page', 'help' 'home page' and 'exit' button on each page.

         Provide a search engine which accepts key words. Make sure that it works and that the results are displayed in plain Englisheasy to understand language.





8. Design


         Keep the design consistentthe same throughout, simple and easy to use. Too many design elements on a site make it complex and confusinghard to follow.



8.1 Visual elements


         Minimum screen requirement should be 800x600 resolution.

         Use visual elements, such as layout, graphics and colour, to provide cues about the meaning, function use and structure of each page and of the different elements on each page. For example, you can use colours to reinforce meaning, such as Red for No, Green for Yes.

         Where you use visual elements in this way, ensure you provide alternative cues for those who cannot see the visual elements. For example, don't rely on colour alone to indicate tell the visitor's location on your site, provide Alt tags for all graphical elements.

         Make buttons a minimum size of 80 pixels radius or square and ensure they have a clear, unambiguous label e.g. Home.

         Use a limited number of simple, uncluttered, legible fonts e.g. Arial or comic sans..

         Where it is appropriateyYou may wish to make use of animation tools such as Macromedia Flash or of Virtual Reality tools such as VRML. Bear in mind that many people with learning disabilities only have old, slow performing machines and may find it difficult to use these applications.

         Have an option to display sign language to accompany auditory cues


8.2 Auditory elements


         Provide audio equivalents of text. For example, text can be read aloud using a package such as Microsoft Agent - but your visitor has to have an Internet Explorer browser to make use of this particular package.  Alternatively, you can use a package such as Flash to create pre-recorded speech that is streamed in as the site itself is being streamed.

         Provide audio equivalents of graphical elements, such as buttons. For example, provide the user with the option of hearing an auditory description of each button as the user 'mouse-overs' it.

         Make use of pre-recorded words, avatars, music clips and tones where their use would help explain meaning

         Have an option to turn sound off or on.


9. Interactivity


         You may find it helpful to include a range of activities people can get involved withinteractive elements on your site, especially if you wish to obtain feedback from your visitors or if your site is designed to teach practical skills.  For example, jigsaw games can be used to teach drag and drop techniques when using a mouse, hangman games can be used for teaching literacy skills and racing games can be used to motivate learning. Make sure though that the activities are relevant to age of the people who are likely to visit your web site.

         Give feedback to your users on their performanceTell people how well they did on these activities and games.  This is especially motivating to some people with learning disabilities.

         Consider using celebrity voices and images of famous people, embedding the site in popular culture.especially people that the visitors to your site will know.


10.          Websites which are accessible to people with learning disabilities



There are a number of websites which already meet some, if not all, of the points in these guidelines.  These include


         Big Tree at www.big-tree.org.uk. Site currently under construction.

         Central England People First at www.peoplefirst.org.uk 

         Meldreth Manor School at www.meldrethmanor.com 

         Mencap at www.mencap.org.uk 

         Peepo at www.peepo.com

         Trans-Active at www.trans-active.org.uk.



11.      Further information


Further information about designing accessible websites can be found at 


         Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities at www.learningdisabilities.org.uk Has a factsheet called 'Designing websites which are accessible for people with learning disabilities', as well as the original research findings on which this is based, 'Design Guidelines and Issues for Web Site Production for Use by People with a Learning Disability'.

         Kings College London, Department of Education at www.sed.kcl.ac.uk  Has a section on the Internet and special schools at www.sed.kcl.ac.uk/special which includes 'Making the web special: a guide for special schools and PRUs'

         Learning Difficulty Org at www.learningdifficulty.org. Has a wide range of information on access issues including books, papers and other materials.

         Mencap at www.mencap.org.uk . Has a range of information about access issues at www.mencap.com/html/services/accessibility_services.htm including 'Making your website accessible for people with a learning disability'

         RNIB at www.rnib.org.uk.  Has range of information about accessible website design, including 'Accessible Website Design' at www.rnib.org.uk/digital/hints.htm

         Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at www.w3.org/WAI. International body which aims to increase website accessibility. 


  jonathan chetwynd
    peepo project manager
Received on Wednesday, 24 April 2002 12:10:24 UTC

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