Switching Between 2 Accessible Versions, 1 for People with Cognitive Disabilities

It is a well-accepted axiom that a Web site can meet all accessibility standards yet still be unusable by people with a wide variety of disabilities.  The W3C discusses this in its article “Understanding Conformance“.

It is also true that a Web site can both meet all accessibility standards, and be usable by a wide variety of people with disabilities, yet still be unusable by a subset of people.  For instance, a Web page with columns of links, tables and image-based advertisements may be accessible to all who use assistive technology, yet be inaccessible to people with cognitive disabilities.

The WC3’s new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) define a technique entitled “C29: Using a style switcher to provide a conforming alternate version“. It is intended to allow Web developers to provide a version of a Web site that conforms to accessibility standards when its default version does not (meet a standard or standards).

For the future Clear Helper Web site, I am considering employing this technique a little differently.  I would like to enable users to switch between a version that meets all accessibility standards and contains all content, and a version that meets all accessibility standards but contains only primary content.  This would help people with cognitive disabilities complete core tasks, such as finding the information they need, without the distractions of extraneous content.

The details of how I might implement this will be the subject of a future blog post.