Insights into Cognitive Web Accessibility

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Little is known about cognitive web accessibility. This presentation gives insight into a cognitive web accessibility research study and gives recommendations and ideas in approaching web accessibility for users with cognitive and learning disabilities.

Published in: Technology, Design

Insights into Cognitive Web Accessibility

  1. 1. Insights into Cognitive Web Accessibility Jared Smith http://webaim.org
  2. 2. Cognitive and learning disabilities are complex
  3. 3. Principles • Memory • Problem-solving • Attention • Reading, linguistic, and verbal comprehension • Math comprehension • Visual comprehension
  4. 4. Cognitive disability is not a binary state
  5. 5. Cognitive Web Accessibility Principles and techniques that ensure content is as widely available as possible to people with cognitive and learning disabilities
  6. 6. Very Difficult! Why? Previous research is sparse and disparate It’s a very diverse population Recommendations for one disability may disadvantage another Cognitive and learning disabilities have been largely unaddressed in guidelines
  7. 7. WebAIM’s Project • Create an automated web accessibility evaluation tool, similar to WAVE, for cognitive accessibility. • Focus on K-12 students • Provide insight into cognitive and learning disability and web accessibility
  8. 8. Our Goal • Cognitive accessibility principles that are... • broadly applicable • of interest and use to web developers • machine testable
  9. 9. Our Process • Literature review • Broadly applicable • Developer survey • Of interest to web developers • Analysis • Machine testable • User testing • Verify applicability and relevance
  10. 10. Elements Analyzed • Font size • Headings • Images • Line length • Lists • Multimedia • Reading level • Search • Serif vs. sans-serif text
  11. 11. User Testing • Matched Pairs • Tried to isolate the element being analyzed • Measured efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction/ease • 8 grade 6-12 students with cognitive or learning disabilities
  12. 12. Small font size vs slightly above average font size Larger text was more efficient, effective, and satisfying in nearly all cases
  13. 13. Images paired with text content vs. text content alone
  14. 14. Images paired with text content vs. text content alone 7 out of 8 were more efficient and more satisfied with images
  15. 15. Line Length Short (~25 characters) vs. average (~75 characters) vs. long (~120 characters) All subjects took longer on the long line length pages. Little difference between short and average.
  16. 16. Line Length Students perceived the long line length page as being shorter than the others and reported it as being easiest... ...but it actually took them much longer to read it.
  17. 17. Multimedia Seven of the eight students were more efficient and also expressed more user satisfaction from the page with the video instructions than the one with written instructions.
  18. 18. Less conclusive • Headings • Students were slightly more efficient without headings. Though the short subject matter likely affected this. • Students sometimes did not read headings • Lists • Student preferred the page with lists, but were no more efficient with them.
  19. 19. Less conclusive • Reading level • No marked difference (though a very short sample) • Search • Spelling proved difficult. • They took time to choose “the one” correct search result (probably a factor of the testing) • Serif vs. Sans-serif • No marked difference • Many other studies show no difference in WEB readability or comprehension, but significant differences in satisfaction.
  20. 20. Initial Findings and Observations Perceived difficulty may have a bigger impact than actual difficulty
  21. 21. Perceived difficulty Page with larger text appeared shorter (though it wasn’t) and was thus perceived as easier. Was the page more efficient because of large text or because it was perceived as easier???
  22. 22. Perceived difficulty Make your page LOOK easy
  23. 23. Initial Findings and Observations Confirmation for confidence
  24. 24. Confirmation for confidence Students spent a lot of time finding THE ONE correct answer. Search results were overwhelming.
  25. 25. Confirmation for confidence It wasn't a matter of finding the correct answer, it was a matter of choosing the correct answer. Make your pages simple and intuitive. Provide error recovery mechanisms.
  26. 26. Initial Findings and Observations Distractions
  27. 27. Distractions Keep visual aids clean, simple, and complementary to the content
  28. 28. Initial Findings and Observations Self-paced
  29. 29. Self-paced Multimedia introduces a specific timing element. Can users keep up? A transcript, a prominent pause feature, and an ability to quickly rewind or replay the video allow users to use multimedia at their own pace.
  30. 30. Initial Findings and Observations Consistency and organization
  31. 31. Consistency and organization While organizational elements (headings, lists, etc.) can help accessibility, they should be clearly differentiable from other elements.
  32. 32. Consistency and organization
  33. 33. Consistency and organization The “Science of Hockey” section was nearly invisible to some students. Some never found it after minutes of reading the page. It was a parallel item to the other sports, but was not presented consistently.
  34. 34. Much more work needs to be done in this area
  35. 35. Questions and Discussion ?
  36. 36. Thank You! Jared Smith http://webaim.org twitter: @jared_w_smith

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