Creating digital content for people with cognitive disabilities is always a challenge. That is because they can affect a wide array of essential brain functions. Each form of cognitive dysfunction has a different effect on the brain and presents a unique set of barriers for the person to absorb and retain information. Web developers must consider these barriers while optimizing a website for accessibility.
Automated accessibility solutions like UserWay or accessiBe can make a website accessible to a wide range of cognitive disabilities. But some business owners prefer to ensure that the contents of their website are optimized as well.
People with cognitive dysfunctions rely on different mediums to gain and understand knowledge. For any online business, that is the first step for most customers. People should be able to visit the website and learn about the products available. Customers with cognitive disabilities may learn about products on your website in different ways. Some might read about it, while others may use listening to discover your products. If your content is directed towards people who learn by reading and writing, you will have to rely on the textual elements of it. These are some of the ways to improve your text content so that people with disabilities can read them comfortably and retain the information.
If you want the textual content to be easily read and understood by people with cognitive disabilities, it must be written in simple language. But writing information that is easy to understand is not limited to using simple language. The content must also be organized and well structured.
The content must be free from jargon unless it is meant for a specific audience. You must also limit the use of difficult words and choose alternatives that are easier to understand. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) are there to ensure that websites can be understood by people with different types of disabilities. These are some methods that you can use for your content to make it easily understandable.
- Use white or light backgrounds as much as you can for texts.
- Lists and bullets help in the breakdown of the information.
- Shorter paragraphs are better for people with cognitive disabilities, so avoid long ones.
- Maintain optimal spacing between lines to maximize readability for people with dyslexia or other visual impairments.
The Type, Size, Color, and Placement of the Font
While it is a popular notion to use a visually attractive font for your website, it must also be easy to read and understand. The Department of Health and Human Services has specified a few types of fonts that are easier to read than the others, most of which are sans-serif fonts. Sans-serif fonts are simple, clean, and easy to read.
The font size must also meet the specified guidelines. Although font sizes around 14 points are easy to understand, WCAG 2.1 recommends a font size of 16 points to ensure maximum visibility. WCAG also recommends that there should be a provision to increase the font size up to 200%. Ensure that the structure does not get broken due to the resizing of the font.
The color of the text must be chosen carefully to create an optimal color contrast. The WCAG 2.1 specifies that the color contrast of regular text with the background must be 4.5:1, whereas for bold text, it must be at least 3:1 to allow maximum visibility. Avoid using words inside pictures, because assistive technologies like screen readers cannot read the text inside images. Images cannot be resized as easily as texts on websites. If you must include text inside images, make sure that you put it in the alt text attributes. The texts inside images must also follow the optimal ratio with the background.
Headings and Structure
Headings and structure are not only essential to the visual elegance of the content, but they also promote its readability. Proper headings make sure that topics covered are easy to find because they provide a reference to the context. It helps learners with cognitive disabilities to extract the meaning of what they are going to read and remember that information. Questions can act as good headings because they encourage the reader to think about the content that they are about to read. When you put headings in your content, make sure it is optimized with appropriate tags for assistive technologies as well.
Making your content accessible to people with cognitive disabilities can not only benefit them but you as well. You will not only improve the readability of the website, but it will also look cleaner and visually attractive. It also means that you will be adding many more potential customers to your online business.