Cognitive disabilities include dyslexia, dementia, ADHD, down syndrome and brain injury. The spectrum of disability severity varies – a user with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder will struggle differently compared to a user who has severe dementia. These types of disabilities can affect the users memory, attention span, problem-solving readability and understanding. Therefore, when using website features we find easy, these users may struggle – for example, a person with severe dyslexia often struggles with spelling, if this user is using a search box but the website does not prompt possible words when spelt wrong, it will most likely take the user a long period of time to find what they are looking for.
Website designers and developers have the difficult task of creating a website which is accessible for everyone – including those who have both physical and mental disabilities. There is a lengthy list of considerations which must be taken into account when an accessible website for all disabilities – from deciding what content to use to ensuring that the hierarchy of the programming language is correct. Tutorials online based on this subject are inconsistent, from all the articles I have read they only briefly cover cognitive disabilities and concentrate considerably more on creating a website which will work with screen readers (for blind and partially sighted users).
For my university project I have chosen the title – “creating a content rich and accessible website for users with cognitive disabilities”. I am going to conduct various different research before creating an exemplar website which will guide designers, developers, and anyone else interested, about creating a site which is accessible and content-rich, and aimed towards users who have a cognitive disability (whilst also covering all types of disabilities). My research will include user testing on both existing websites and the website I will be building. This project has already grown quite a bit of interest and it has been asked a few times if I am writing about it, hence starting this blog.