Today, I received good information from Mary, a self advocate, an active member of her community and an occasional Web user. Mary is also a person with an intellectual disability.
Success & Suggestion
Mary told me she had used Google with success to find the mailing address of her local state representative. She explained many people she knew would like to find similar information, and suggested I create a tutorial on how to do so. That is a great suggestion for the future Clear Helper Web site.
Challenge & Resolution
She reported trouble using the DisabilityInfo.org Web site. The home page, she said, was too full of choices. I designed that site, and I agree with her. Since I have been designing sites back when the Web was born, people have insisted that everything must go on the home page. This makes for a very cluttered, confusing page that does not convey the site’s core message, and does not enable visitors to access its information easily.
When I first designed the DisabilityInfo.org Web site a few years ago, it met accepted accessibility standards (WCAG 1.0 AA compliance) and was given a good accessibility review by testers who were blind. It is not perfect. For instance, it does not use headings as well as it should. Yet, most importantly to my current awareness, it has no accessibility features specifically intended for people with cognitive disabilities. I will be redesigning it next year. I will apply to its new design the accessibility- and the usability lessons I learn with the Clear Helper project.
Next month, Mary is hosting for me a focus group of ten people with intellectual disabilities. I will be asking them the questions I outlined in my blog post on Interviewing People with ID about Web Accessibility. I am sure they will have a lot of good ideas for me. I will report them in a future post.
Note: Mary told me she wanted to learn American Sign Language to communicate with coworkers, but was unsuccessful finding on the Web such a training program. (The agency that serves Mary found a local one geared for people with intellectual disabilities.) If anyone knows of a Web resource listing training programs intended for people with intellectual disabilities, please tell me. If there is not one, it may have to be a future project for me.