News Articles Accessible to People with Cognitive Disabilities

Voice of America (VOA) Special English News is a Web site designed for audiences who are not native speakers of English.  The same characteristics that make its news articles accessible to that population also help make them accessible to people with cognitive disabilities.

Special English Written News

The news articles have “… a core vocabulary of 1500 words.  Most are simple words that describe objects, actions or emotions.  Some words are more difficult.  They are used for reporting world events and describing discoveries in medicine and science.  Special English writers use short, simple sentences that contain only one idea. They use active voice.  They do not use idioms.”

Special English Audio News

News articles are also offered as podcasts.  The “… Special English broadcasters read at a slower pace, about two-thirds the speed of standard English.  This helps people learning English hear each word clearly.  It also helps people who are fluent English speakers understand complex subjects.”

Special English TV

Weekly, five short features are broadcast on satellite television. Each lasts about four minutes.  All are closed captioned.  A RSS subscription is available for them.  (This means they can be downloaded and watched.)


The Voice of America Web site is not designed to be accessible to users of assistive technology, such as screen readers, nor does it have accessibility features for people with cognitive disabilities.

Quotes above retrieved from Voice of America. Helping People Understand Their World,

No endorsement is intended or implied for VOA Special English News.