Switching Between Standard- & Plain Language Versions: 1st Attempt

I created a plain-language version of the Clear Helper home page.  It displays “standard” text.  Clicking the link “Easy” at the top, right of the home page displays the plain-language version.  The image below shows the menu.

Home Page Menu with choices Easy, Skip to content, Need big text?

Technical Method

This is my first attempt at creating a plain-language version.  I focused on accomplishing it technically.  This is a follow-up to my previous post, “Using Plain Language for People with Cognitive Disabilities: Discussion, Example“.

The method I used to create two language versions of the same page is to include all of the text content in it, but hide from the user one version or the other depending upon which the user selects.  I used the CSS “display” property with a value of “none” for this purpose.


It may be more efficient to use a database-driven system that stores and displays the content depending upon user selection.  There are content-management systems (CMS) specifically designed to create accessible pages and that have accessible content-management interfaces.  One such example is Webcredible’s Accessible CMS.


I did make a few improvements to the page-version switcher I described in my post “2 Accessible Versions, 1 for People with CD: Rough Draft In Action“.  I:

  • changed two menu choice labels, one from “Simple” to “Easy” and the other from “Regular” to “Standard”;
  • set the menu so that, rather than displaying both of those menu choices, it shows “Easy” on the standard version and “Standard” on the easy / plain-language version;
  • placed the accessible text-to-speech (TTS) player for both versions in the same place, so people will always know where to look for it, and at the bottom of the page where it would not cause initial distraction; and
  • created a MP3 audio narration of the plain-language version.

Next Steps

In future posts, I will publish the results of:

  • checking if screen readers or search engines have trouble with a page containing two versions of content but displaying one; (I suspect not.)
  • running a readability checker on the “easy” text, and determining if it meets plain-language guidelines; and
  • investigating whether or not Webcredible’s Accessible CMS or one of its competitors has the capability to switch between two content versions of the same page.