It does not have to be difficult to make websites usable by people with cognitive disabilities. They benefit by the same design features employed for people with physical disabilities. The main difference is they also need website content that is accessible to them.

Some Good Design Features

  • consistent page layout with headings and liberal white space;
  • minimal distractions, such as advertisements or unrelated content;
  • large text (font) size, with minimal use of italics;
  • straightforward, consistent site navigation; and
  • site search that corrects spelling, offers relevant synonyms, and presents simple results.

Some Good Content Features

  • succinct, plain language that is literal (e.g., no colloquialisms, sarcasm or jargon);
  • page sections defined visibly, with textual content written in chunks;
  • simple summaries for complex- or lengthy content;
  • pairing of textual content with contextually-relevant images, icons and graphics; and
  • presentation of textual content via video and/or text-to-speech alternatives.

Example Websites

To date, I have found two websites that have made significant efforts to be usable by people with cognitive disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities.

People First

The People First site features a large site-navigation menu (the following image). For menu options, there are contextually-relevant icons, which are also used throughout the site.
People First Site Navigation MenuThe Mencap site incorporates many captioned videos (example image following) as an alternative to textual content, and relevant images to augment it. The site’s My Life section is specifically designed for constituents, with plain language; simple navigation; and lots of images and videos.
Man pictured with a quote: We work in partnership with the parents.

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