Today, I visited a local university that has a campus-based program for students with learning disabilities. I am helping to make the program’s Web site more accessible to its students. I met with the program director, two representatives of university Web services, and an adjunct-faculty member responsible for managing site content. We discussed possible cognitive-accessibility features and next steps for the project.
We will focus on content first.
- Outdated information will be pruned or updated.
- Text will be rewritten into plain language.
- See PlainLanguage.gov (U.S.), Plain English Campaign (U.K.) and Plain Language Association International.
- Contextually-relevant images will be added, especially photos taken during program activities.
- After the above tasks are accomplished for one to five pages, they will be evaluated by program students.
We will then revise the site’s design. To do so, we will determine which cognitive-accessibility features we can incorporate using the university’s content management system (CMS). Examples:
- Alternative style sheets could be created that conform to text accessibility standards with which I have experimented.
- A text-to-speech function, likely ROKTalk, could be added to the CMS template.
- Short, captioned videos could be embedded as is done so well on The Mencap Web Site.
- A text-size enlarger and a background-color changer could be added similar to those of The BBC’s My Web My Way. (The ROKTalk toolbar includes such features, but this may be another way for site visitors to invoke them.)
- Other development steps will be outlined in future posts. For example, the My Web My Way idea could be expanded such that site visitors could choose their own mixture of content types.
- Program students will be included in every step of the site development.
3 thoughts on “University Web Site for People with Learning Disabilities: Starting a Redesign”
Thank you for sharing your process in improving the web site’s accessibility for students with learning disabilities. Can you explain further the recommendation “A text-size enlarger and a background-color changer could be added” please?
Given browsers offer the ability to change text size, I’ve been advocating educating the user rather than adding a text-size widget.
Thank you for your interest.
I understand your reference to “educating the user” as providing instructions on how to use their browsers or assistive technology to change text size, for example.
One problem with this approach is that users may not have ownership of their desktops, which may prevent or limit the setting of different text sizes, background colors, etc.
Another is that people may not be able to follow or to remember instructions on how to use browser-based, text-size switching; using a widget would be easier.
I have posted several articles about ideas for adding features such as text-size enlargers. One, which contains links to some of them, describes my effort to educate users. See “Browser-Based Text/Font Size Switching: Dissatisfaction & Solutions” at http://bit.ly/6NBTDa
Thanks for your answer. I had not considered that users might not have control over the browsers option settings on their desktop.
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