The ArcLink: Features of a Cognitively Accessible Web Site

Today, I attended the presentation, “Making Your Information Available to People with ID by Building Accessible Websites” by Lynne Tamor, Ph.D., of The ArcLink Incorporated.

Dr. Tamor’s work mirrors that of my own and of others who specialize in cognitive Web accessibility. The principles she described and/or demonstrated included:

  • Create uncluttered pages with consistent layout
  • Use Plain language/People First language/Low readability score
  • Make the site accessible to screen readers, operating system narrators, and text-to-speech software
  • Use graphics, audio, and video to support text
  • Avoid jargon, including Internet-related jargon
  • Use large print and simple fonts
  • Try to limit scrolling
  • Make sure pages will print as seen on the screen
  • Use a consistent and straightforward navigation system
  • Include a “how to use this site” section
  • Make the homepage informative for people who come to the site via search engines

Taylor, Lynne. “Features of a Cognitively Accessible Website” handout distributed at “Making Your Information Available to People with ID by Building Accessible Websites.” Annual Conference of The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Providence, Rhode Island. 9 June 2010.

Notes: The presentation was also credited to Nancy Ward, Oklahoma Disability Law Center. No endorsement of The ArcLink Incorporated is intended or implied.

6 thoughts on “The ArcLink: Features of a Cognitively Accessible Web Site

  1. Thanks for sharing that. Most of the principles can be seen as good practice that matches what sites should do (to some extent) anyway.

    But a couple stand out as conflicting with other good practice:

    “Try to limit scrolling.”

    Obviously the higher priority items should be higher on the page, but in general scrolling isn’t seen as a problem, especially for listings or longer text articles. It would be good to know the reasoning behind that.

    “Make sure pages will print as seen on the screen”

    Surely it would be better to make the print version (whether by print CSS or a separate version) a simple version of the page, without navigation etc.

    Or is there a need for it to match the screen so they can be more easily related?

    (Also, I hope the “subscribe by email to this site” tickbox actually means to the comments on this post?)

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I believe you are referring to vertical scrolling. If so, I agree with you.

      My guess is that by “Try to limit scrolling”, Dr. Tamor is referring to horizontal scrolling. It is considered good practice to obviate the need for horizontal scrolling, especially after increasing a Web site’s default font size.

      I don’t know what Dr. Tamor’s rationale is for “Make sure pages will print as seen on the screen”. I think there are merits to both the options you mentioned.

      You may be interested in another list of such practices: WebAIM’s Cognitive Web Accessibility Checklist. See

      (I believe you can subscribe to comments using’s Subscription Management. I am not sure if that option can be limited to comments for a single post. See )

  2. I’m glad to see that Alastair had the same reaction that I did. I think that the list is quite helpful save for those two items.

    If scrolling does indeed refer only to horizontal scrolling, then I definitely agree with the point. Advising a site to do away with vertical scrolling would result in either minimalist content or the clutter of dozens of pages where one should have sufficed.

    As for the “Make sure pages will print as seen on the screen” point, I solidly disagree with Dr. Tamor. I wish that more sites would adopt the use of Print.css to transform webpages into accessible documents for on hand reading.

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