One does not have to be a web developer to help make a site usable by people with cognitive disabilities. Creating clear, simple website content is equally important.

What Are Cognitive Disabilities?

Cognitive disabilities are experienced by people, for example, who have dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder (ADD), or depression, and by all of us as we age. Cognitive disabilities are functionally characterized, in large part, by poor comprehension, attention and memory.

Within the United States, there are no widely-used and accepted definitions of cognitive disability. However, WebAIM has a functional definition of cognitive disabilities, which is good for web developers.

How Can a Website Be Made Usable by People with Cognitive Disabilities?

Using plain language throughout a site is a great start. There are five good design features and five good content features that would definitely make a website easier to use by people with cognitive disabilities. WebAIM has an informative article about evaluating cognitive web accessibility.

How Can a Website Be Determined Good for People with Cognitive Disabilities?

A terrific resource is WebAIM’s cognitive accessibility checklist, which is very useful for web developers.

I have been evaluating the cognitive accessibility of websites by organizations that serve people with cognitive disabilities. To date, I have found two of twenty sites to be accessible. For information about the methodology and the results of this work, see Cognitive Web Accessibility: Assessments.

There has also been research in this area. For a recent example, see Improving Web Searching for People with Cognitive Disabilities.

The best way to determine if a website is good for people with cognitive disabilities is to have them test it!

Additional Resources

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Note: Information about me and my work.

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