Newsletter 16

10 July, 2015

In this issue

  1. Cognitive Impairment and the Web
  2. Public Lecture - Web Accessibility for People with Cognitive Disabilities
  3. Disabled radio button and checkbox values not read by NVDA
  4. Stat of the week

Cognitive Impairment and the Web

Cognitive impairment and the web is an area that still remains relatively unexplored. Fundamental questions, such as what makes a website memorable, remain unanswered.

Typical web accessibility discussions tend to focus on the nexus between a diagnosed medical condition and web usage. Blind people have trouble reading the screen, so they need to have content read out to them: deaf people have trouble hearing sound, so need to have audio content made available via captions. But what about people who suffer from Autism, Acquired Brain Injury, dyslexia or Anxiety? The relationship between diagnosed condition and web usage is not so clear.

When it comes to cognitive impairment and the web, symptoms are of key importance. For example, students with Autism may have difficulty recognising they have successfully completed an enrolment form and can now move onto selecting their subject timetable. Identifying the symptom, i.e. 'difficulty recognizing task completion' is useful because it may also relate to other conditions, such as Anxiety, where the user may also be looking for confirmation that their form has been submitted successfully. Both groups of users would benefit from a simple message saying 'Well done, you have now finished enrolling. A confirmation email has been sent to You can now start selecting your subjects.' In fact everybody benefits, just not to the same extent.

There are a whole range of simple things that we can do to assist users with cognitive impairments, including:

  • Providing a time estimate of how long a task will take, e.g. 'This enrolment form will take 10 - 20 minutes to complete'
  • Telling users about any additional information that will be required, e.g. 'You will need your Tax File Number and Citizenship Certificate in order to complete this form'
  • Providing a timeline showing what step users are at when completing online forms, e.g. 'Step 2 of 7'
  • Only including material on the page that is relevant to the task at hand
  • Allowing users to go back and correct information
  • Allowing users to save their current progress
  • Breaking down large chucks of text
  • Reducing text length
  • Using headings
  • Using bullet and numbered lists
  • Warning users of timeouts, e.g. 'This session will expire in 2 minutes. Save now and continue?'
  • Removing jargon, e.g. 'Enrolment' not 'Enrolment Triage'

Further reading:

Public Lecture - Web Accessibility for People with Cognitive Disabilities

MNSI in partnership with the Disability Hallmark Initiative has invited Peter Blanck to deliver a public lecture based upon his book eQuality: The Struggle for Web Accessibility by Persons with Cognitive Disabilities.

The lecture will examine the rights of individuals with cognitive disabilities to equal access to web content and how this can be achieved.

Peter Blanck is Chairman of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) and a University Professor at Syracuse University, New York.

The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) reaches around the globe in its efforts to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities. The Institute's work focuses on two interconnected Innovation Areas: Economic Participation and Community Participation. Through program development, research, and public policy guidance in these Innovation Areas, BBI advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities.

Peter Blanck has written articles and books on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws, and received grants to study disability law and policy. He is Chairman of the Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC), and President of Raising the Floor (RtF) USA. He is a former member of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Peter Blanck received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rochester, a Juris Doctorate from Stanford University, where he was President of the Stanford Law Review, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard University.

Event registration

Disabled radio button and checkbox values not read by NVDA

Using NVDA and IE11, disabled radio buttons that are selected are not read out by the screen reader as 'selected'. This problem does not occur in Firefox or Chrome or when using JAWS.

Try it for yourself

NVDA developers appear to be aware of the issue: "As if there weren't enough stupid bugs in IE's accessibility implementation, IE doesn't expose the fact that radio buttons or check boxes are checked via accessibility APIs when they are disabled."

Source: read all - checkbox

Stat of the week

63% of US secondary school students who receive special education no longer consider themselves to be disabled once they reach college. The rate is even higher for students with learning difficulties (69%).

Source: College Special-Needs Students Face Choice: Seek Help or Go It Alone?