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Strategies for Disabled People

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 14:35:11 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

	I am long overdue posting this start to the Action List deleveloped on
teleconference one back. I apologize for the long delay getting this
started. I began by listing the categories of folks in the large group
collectively called Cognitively Disabled, the same categories I used to
identify and meet needs of students with learning disabilities. I started a
list, then spent time asking questions and checking resources to come to
the conclusion that there is little or less information on what may be
needed by these folks than we have in this working group. 

	Among those who depend on vision for input, there are those whose best
visual input is text, those whose best visual input is graphics, that whose
whose best visual input is a combination of text and graphics. 

	Strategy One, then is to insure that all web pages to be used by the
targetted audience would provide the information in all text, in all
graphics, and in a mixed format. Ideally, the user should be able to turn
off graphics or text, or view it all. 

	Among those who depend on sound for input, there are those depend on
graphics while listening, and those who do better when they are without
visual distractions while listening. Some auditory folks need to say what
they are learning as well as listen or read.

	Strategy Two, then is to insure that sound is available on the web site.
Depending on text to speech is a beginning, but not the all. Music and
sounds related to the content should be available. If the site is for
learning as well as information, providing a voice input would be excellent
for aiding those who need to say what they are learning to learn it. 

	Some folks learn best through their tactile or kinesthetic sense. Again,
they may be readers or non-readers, also auditory, or not. These folks
typically learn best taking notes or by acting out the skills, and by
interacting with the material. 

	Strategy Three, then is to be sure to include interactivity on a site (not
necessarily every page). Links to further information, quizes to take,
games to play, and projects to do online or offline would make the website
more user-friendly to such people. 

	Jonathon has pointed out a number of times that a limited attention span
is often a problem in the use of the web by cognitively disabled persons
and that animation or motion helped alleviate the problem. There is also a
difficulty in scrolling down the page due to combined cognitive and
physical disabilities. 

	Strategy Four, then would be to limit the size of a page to a screen full
whenever possible, and perhaps clearly mark when scrolling is needed.
Animation and motion should be available on the site, not on every page
because there are some folks who are as distracted by them as some are
attracted by them, but available on the site. 

	These are rough and ragged strategies. They are a start, pehaps, and a
beginning to establish what is/may be needed. I'm pulling as much from
research in hemispheric workings of the brain in learning theory, as from
experience working with kids with a wide range of learning differences, so
practicality may need to polish some pointed edges.

	I welcome suggestions, and especially additions.



Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Thursday, 29 July 1999 15:17:23 UTC

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