Billions of websites offer great information and services. Yet the vast majority are not designed to be usable by everyone, especially people with disabilities. Those websites that are designed to be accessible are reasonably focused on people with physical disabilities. Almost none of those, unfortunately, are designed for people with cognitive disabilities.

Problems with comprehension, memory, attention, or problem solving, which are experienced by people with cognitive disabilities, are just as important for web designers to circumvent as those experienced by people with physical disabilities. There are two significant reasons that web designers should make their sites usable by everyone.

  1. There are millions of people who have disabilities. All of us will acquire disabilities as we age. Thinking quickly and easily will become more difficult. Our vision and hearing will likely deteriorate as well.
  2. Excluding millions of people from using websites, or making it difficult for them to do so, is bad for business. It does not matter if a website’s purpose is to make money or to provide a public service. Excluding people equals mission failure.

Working To Solve The Problems

Organizations and activists around the world are helping web designers make their sites usable by everyone. There are a few, such as I, who are exploring how to make websites usable by people with cognitive disabilities. I have spent my entire professional career serving that population, particularly those with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. Since the web was born, I have been developing web sites as usable by people with disabilities as technology and funding has allowed.

Clear Helper LogoA couple of years ago, I decided to combine those two passions in earnest. I have been working to explore and to develop best practices of web usability/accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities. One of my goals is to develop a website to teach web skills to people with intellectual disabilities, and that itself is accessible to them. For more information, see my Clear Helper Blog.

Related Future Blog Posts

This post is the first in a four-part series. Upcoming topics will be:

  • using web sites from the perspective of people with cognitive disabilities;
  • what can be done by web designers to make their sites more accessible for people with cognitive disabilities; and
  • resources that will help everyone interested in cognitive web accessibility.

Background Information

1 Comment on Making Web Sites Usable By Everyone

  1. Hi John – great article. It prompted me to refer you to to an organization my classmate state, Blue Redefined, Inc. They have created a “social network for people with disabilities and people experiencing prolonged stays in hospitals.” It’s called BlueVerse – 157 users and growing!

    Let me know if you might be interested in talking with him for a future post idea.


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