Autism Gap Analysis (W3C Task Force)

Neil Milliken and I have written an autism gap analysis as part of the effort to create gap analyses by the W3C‘s Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility Task Force. Our intent is to identify the gap between where the state of accessibility for people with autism is now when using the web, and where we want it to be. The following is information about the autism gap analysis.

We included some personas with use cases that address key challenges. The personas and use cases are based upon aggregated results of interviews of people with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD), and upon anecdotal observations of their use of the web.

To our knowledge, there is no significant, empirical (user-based) testing on the use of the web by people with autism or other cognitive disabilities. In part because of that, we quoted results of directly-related research performed by WebAIM (N=8) in the section “Characteristics of content optimized for this group.”

We also quoted, from authoritative sources, much of the background information about autism. We did that, in large part, to help avoid adding to ASD-related controversies. The prime example is the reported increasing prevalence of ASD, and arguments that the increase is not actual, but due to the nature of the diagnoses.


  • I will soon conduct a literature review for user-testing-based research related to web accessibility and people with cognitive disabilities. If you know of any, please post a comment with a reference to it.
  • Neil Milliken was assisted by Jessie Grainger, an intern who helped write most of the use-case scenarios.
  • No endorsement of any of the information contained in the autism gap analysis is intended or implied.