Cognitive Web Accessibility Assessment: First Attempt, Part 3 of 3

This post is the third part of my first structured attempt to evaluate cognitive Web accessibility.  I am using WebAIM’s Cognitive Web Accessibility Checklist and its WAVE accessibility evaluation toolbar to assess the Web site of Down’s Syndrome Scotland.  See Part 1 and Part 2.

This post covers the checklist sections of:

  • Orientation and Error Prevention/Recovery;
  • Assistive Technology Compatibility.

Assessment Related to Checklist

  • Checklist Section: Orientation and Error Prevention/Recovery
    • Guideline: Give users control over time sensitive content changes
      • This guideline is not applicable.
    • Guideline: Provide adequate instructions and cues for forms
      • Title attributes of tags are used to provide instructions.  There are cues for required fields.  Form labels are inconsistently used. Example: Feedback. Fieldsets are not used, but are not required.
    • Guideline: Give users clear and accessible form error messages and provide mechanisms for resolving form errors and resubmitting the form
      • There are accessible form-error messages.  They could be more clear.  Perhaps “The field ‘Your name’ is required” could be “Type your name” or “Enter your name”.  A submitted form without text in a required field reproduces text entered in other fields when it is refreshed.  Example: Make a Donation.
    • Guideline: Give feedback on a user’s actions
      • Field-specific error messages are prefaced by “Please correct the following errors before trying to submit this form:”.  Example: Make a Donation.
    • Guideline: Provide instructions for unfamiliar or complex interfaces
      • It is possible people with intellectual disabilities would find the site’s short forms to be complex.  User testing would indicate this.  (It may already have been done).  One way to reduce any perceived complexity would be to present users each field step-by-step.
    • Guideline: Use breadcrumbs, indicators, or cues to indicate location or progress
      • Breadcrumbs are used throughout the site.  One point is recorded.
    • Guideline: Allow critical functions to be confirmed and/or canceled/reversed
      • This guideline is not applicable.
    • Guideline: Provide adequately-sized clickable targets and ensure functional elements appear clickable
      • Many links, including those of the sidebar menu, are not underlined.  Some button-images are clickable, some not.  There is no differentiation between them.
    • Guideline: Use underline for links only
      • This guideline is met throughout the site.
    • Guideline: Provide multiple methods for finding content
      • There is a top menu; a sidebar menu; a site search feature; a site map; and links within body text.
  • Checklist Section: Assistive Technology Compatibility
    • Guideline: Appropriate alternative text
      • Some images do not have it.  Other images do, but it does not describe their content well.  Example: Fantastic Fundraisers (body of page).  This is not a guideline.  It can not be tested by WAVE.
    • Guideline: Form labels
      • I am ignoring this guideline because its criteria are the same as those for the one (above): “Provide adequate instructions and cues for forms”.
    • Guideline: Tables and table headers
    • Guideline: Logical heading structure
      • A level-one heading is used on all assessed pages except the home page.  Of those with additional headings, many have a logical structure. Some do not.
    • Guideline: Links make sense out of context (avoid “click here”, etc.)
      • This guideline is met throughout the site.  One point is recorded.
    • Guideline: A logical, intuitive reading and navigation order
      • On assessed pages, this guideline is met.
    • Guideline: Full keyboard accessibility
      • Access keys are implemented.  On assessed pages, structure is not missing and event handlers are keyboard accessible.  Tabindexes are not required, but one should have been employed, for instance, to make the “Viewing Options” accessibility feature the first link on pages.  A skip link is on all pages, but it would have been better if it were visible.  There are empty links.
    • Guideline: Descriptive and informative page titles
      • This guideline is met throughout the site.
    • Guideline: Frame titles
      • This guideline is not applicable.
    • Guideline: Captions and transcripts
      • This guideline is not applicable.

General Accessibility Assessment

  • The site does attempt to meet W3C accessibility standards. Many pages have no accessibility errors detected by WAVE.  One point is recorded.
  • The site does not have an accessibility statement.
  • No explanation is provided about how to use accessibility features, such as Viewing Options or access keys.


Three of five possible points are recorded.  For the entire, three-part assessment, the total is seven of ten points.


Down’s Syndrome Scotland has made a readily-apparent effort for its Web site to be accessible to its constituency.


  • All “Viewing Options” function in Internet Explorer 8.  All but “Large Text” do in Firefox 3.6.
  • E-mail Link To Page employs an inaccessible CAPTCHA.
  • Some of my descriptions are disjointed.  This is due to my attempt to address, generally, all the potential errors listed for each guideline of WebAIM’s checklist.  It is also because I tried to make the descriptions brief.