People with disabilities
Access to electronic resources by visually impaired people
"This research aimed to develop understanding of user behaviour with web based resources, with particular reference to retrieval of information by blind and visually impaired people. Using a sample of 20 sighted and 20 visually impaired people, users undertook a number of information seeking tasks using four different electronic resources. Results revealed that visually impaired users spend more time searching or browsing the web with times varying considerably depending on the design of the site."
(Jenny Craven, Information Research)
An accessibility frontier: cognitive disabilities and learning disabilities
"With this paper... we are primarily concerned with the problems people with cognitive and learning difficulties might have when using the web and offering a few practical suggestions on how these problems might be addressed."
(Roger Hudson, Russ Weakley & Peter Firminger, Web Usability)
"Most developers don't think about individuals who are deaf when they think of web accessibility. For too many developers, web accessibility consists of adhering to a few guidelines that ensure accessibility to screen readers for the blind. On one level, this is understandable. People who are blind will have the most trouble, since the web is a visual medium... or is it?"
Cognitive disabilities part 1: we still know too little and we do even less
"Cognitive disabilities are the least understood and least discussed type of disability among web developers. As a result, developers rarely design web content to be accessible to people with cognitive disabilities. This is unlikely to change overnight, because the amount of research related to the accessibility of web content is relatively scarce."
(Paul Bohman, WebAIM)
Cognitive disabilities part 2: conceptualising design solutions
"It is an unfortunate fact that the web accessibility community has struggled for some time to come to a consensus on guidelines that can be applied to web content for individuals with cognitive disabilities. Many authors propose specific, commonsense, considerations while others wait for more definitive research."
(Paul Bohman, WebAIM)
Designing websites with senior citizens in mind
"It's an area that a growing number of companies and organizations are paying attention to, and with good reason. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, roughly one quarter of all Americans age 65 and over use the Internet. Just over 40 percent of all wired seniors use the Internet to find financial information, and 15 percent use it to buy or sell stocks, bonds, or mutual funds."
(Emily Shartin, Boston.com)
Guidelines for accessible and usable web sites: observing users who work with screen readers (PDF)
"To truly meet the needs of all users, it is not enough to have guidelines that are based on technology. It is also necessary to understand the users and how they work with their tools. For example, just realising that vision-impaired users do not listen to the entire page is critical for designing usable pages for them. In this paper, we have developed guidelines for bringing accessibility and usability together based on observing, listening to, and talking with blind users as they work with websites and their screen readers."
(Mary Frances Theophanus & Ginny Redish, Redish & Associates)
How people with disabilities use the web
"This document provides an introduction to use of the Web by people with disabilities. It illustrates some of their requirements when using Web sites and Web-based applications, and provides supporting information for the guidelines and technical work of the Web Accessibility Initiative."
(Judy Brewer, W3C)
Improving usability for screen reader users
"Simply ensuring your website is accessible to screen reader users is unfortunately not enough to ensure these users can find what they're looking for in a reasonably quick and efficient manner. Even if your site is accessible to screen reader users, its usability could be so incredibly poor that they needn't have bothered coming to your site. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple-to-implement guidelines you can follow, which not only drastically improve usability for screen reader users, but for all web users."
(Trenton Moss, Webcredible)
An article explaining how motor impairments, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and impairments resulting from brain injury, affect use of the web.
Observing users who listen to websites
"The Communications Technology Branch at the United States National Cancer Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services) has been conducting usability testing with blind and low-vision users. In this article, they provide some of the fascinating findings about how vision-impaired users work with websites."
(Janice Redish & Mary Frances Theofanos, Usability Interface)
Types of cognitive disabilities
"The concept of cognitive disabilities is extremely broad, and not always well-defined. In loose terms, a person with a cognitive disability has greater difficulty with one or more types of mental tasks than the "average" person. There are too many types of cognitive disabilities to list here, but we will cover some of the major categories. Most cognitive disabilities have some sort of basis in the biology or physiology of the individual. The connection between a person's biology and mental processes is most obvious in the case of traumatic brain injury and genetic diseases, but even the more subtle cognitive disabilities often have a basis in the structure or chemistry of the brain."
This article discusses a range of visual disabilities--from poor eyesight through to blindness, low vision and colour blindness--and how they affect people's ability to access information online.
Visual versus cognitive disabilities
"Some people advocate creating a text-only version of websites. These people often assume that 'text-only' and 'accessible' are the same thing. In the case of blind users, this may be true, but the problem with this assumption is that it ignores other types of disabilities."
(Paul Bohman, WebAIM)
What are screen magnifiers?
"Software that interfaces with a computer's graphical output to give enlarged screen content is known as screen magnifier. This assistive technology can be useful for visually-impaired people with some functional vision."
Web accessibility for screen magnifier users
"The needs of screen magnifier users are overlooked when implementing web accessibility on to a website. Screen magnifiers are used by partially sighted web users to increase the size of on-screen elements. Some users will magnify the screen so that only three to four words are able to appear on the screen at any one time. The good news is that some of the basic principles for improving accessibility and usability for screen magnifiers users, also increase usability for everyone. To help, we've listed six ways to improve accessibility and usability for screen magnifier users."
(Trenton Moss, Webcredible)
Web design for dyslexic users
A short list of guidelines for designing for users with dyslexia.
(Davis Dyslexia Association International)
'From where I sit' video series
"A powerful video series of eight California Statue University students with disabilities who share their experiences in the college classroom."
(California State University)
Videos on computer accessibility
A collection of 12 video testimonials from people with disabilities and their use of computers and online resources.
Visual argument - campus accessibility
"A mini-documentary of one student's experiences with inaccessibility around the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign."
- Wheeling in Second Life
"Judith, who has cerebral palsy, has been using computers and the web for many years. Recently she was telling me about how much she was enjoying Second Life and so I asked her if she would mind showing me it. In the video, Judith talks about using Second Life and a club called 'Wheelies', which is one of her favourite locations."
(Roger Hudson, Web Usability)