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FW: SLD Web Design guidelines

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 15:33:01 -0600
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Message-id: <004201c2a481$8b671400$026fa8c0@TOSHIBATABLET>
Sent to me by: Carlos A Velasco 


A good listing to review as we look at 4.1


Gregg Van








Designing Websites for People with Learning Disabilities

ummary> Summary

> Main text

> More information 




*         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
<mailto:webteam@mhf.org.uk%20> webteam@mhf.org.uk 

The Rules

*         Ask people with learning difficulties to help you make your

*         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

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

*         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

*         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.

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1. 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 the 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
s.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 <mailto:webteam@mhf.org.uk%20>  or
post a message on the bulletin board on the Foundation's website.

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2. 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
*	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. 

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3. 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.

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4. 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
*	If appropriate, provide users with a quick tour of the site,
highlighting key areas. 

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5. Content

*	Put the content into sections and sequences that can be easily
*	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 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 mean. Describing a likeness
may help. 
*	Provide a wordbank ie a glossary of any terms that are hard to
understand. The wordbank may include symbols, as well as words 

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6. Navigation

*	Avoid frames-based navigation systems. 
*	Use the same navigation system throughout the site. For example,
make buttons 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 information in the centre of the screen 
*	Provide a visual layout 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 information. 
*	If possible, make all pages no more than two or three mouse clicks
*	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 easy to understand language. 

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7. Design

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

7.1 Visual elements 

*	Minimum screen requirement should be 800x600 resolution. 
*	Use visual elements, such as layout, graphics and colour, to provide
cues about the meaning, 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 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. 
*	You 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 

7.2 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.

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8. Interactivity

*	You may find it helpful to include a range of activities people can
get involved with 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. 
*	Tell 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,
especially people that the visitors to your site will know. 

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9. 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 

*	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 <http://www.trans-active.org.uk>

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More information

More information about designing accessible websites can be found at 

*	The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities produce this
factsheet, as well as the original research findings on which this is based:

Design Guidelines and Issues for Web Site Production for Use by
p>  People with a Learning Disability 
(in PDF format, 436KB)
<http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html> Get Acrobat Reader

*	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
*	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
*	RNIB at www.rnib.org.uk. Has range of information about accessible
website design, including 'Accessible Website Design' at
*	Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at www.w3.org/WAI. International
body which aims to increase website accessibility. 

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Received on Sunday, 15 December 2002 16:33:05 UTC

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