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WCAG 2.0 requirements which may help people with low vision and cognitive disabilities?

Here is a list of WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria that may help people with cognitive and learning disabilities and low vision. Many of the following WCAG SCs are embedded in law and policies in different jurisdictions. There is also more guidance for web masters who want to improve the user experience for those with cognitive and learning disabilities in the Techniques and Understanding documents of WCAG. Unfortunately, there is still a need for better assistive technology to help people with cognitive and learning disabilities, that would also make more use of these WCAG requirements, such as technolgy to simplify language to a lower threshold of understanding. Here's what's required in WCAG 2.0.

  • all information be available in text opening up a clear pathway for assistive technology and parsing engines to manipulate that text for people with cognitive disabilities that would simplify language and manipulate it into symbols, and hundreds of other possibilities.  (SC 1.1.1)  
  • everything to have color contrast for low vision (1.4.3, 1.4.6 AAA)
  • images of text not be used because they pixelated under magnification(1.4.5)
  • all text be resized for low vision (1.4.4)
  • low or no background noise which minimizes audio distractions (1.4.7 AAA)
  • text colors be selected (low vision and cognitive) (1.4.8 AAA)
  • text not to be justified, (low vision and cognitive) (1.4.8) AAA
  • adjustable line spacing, (low vision and cognitive) (1.4.8 AAA)
  • resizing with no horizontal scroll (1.4.8 AAA) (low vision and cognitive)
  • no images of text at all (1.4.9 AAA) (low vision)
  • timing to be adjustable at least 10x the default length. (Cognitive)
  • that distracting movements not be on the page unless they can be paused stopped or hidden (2.2.2) (cognitive)
  • no timing at all be used without exceptions (2.2.3 AAA) (cognitive)
  • distracting interruptions can be postponed or suppressed by the user (2.2.4 AAA) (cognitive)
  • when a session expires the user can continue without having to remember all their data (2.2.5) (cognitive)
  • web sites not triggers epileptic seizures (2.3.1)
  • a simple and descriptive page title to give users a quick understanding of what was on the page (2.4.2) (cognitive and low vision)
  • visible focus so that people who could not use a mouse because of dyslexia or other cognitive issues, could follow the cursor (2.4.7) and use a keyboard to operate the site (2.1.1)
  • link text told users where the link went (2.4.4, 2.4.9 AAA) (cognitive)
  • the language of the page to be marked up so that screen readers for people who could not read, or were illiterate, or had dyslexia, could surf the page with the proper speech engine (3.1.1) and that it would change speech engines when the language changed. (cognitive)
  • unusual words, idioms and jargon be identified (3.1.3 AAA)  (cognitive)
  • abbreviations be expanded and their meanings available (3.1.4 AAA) (cognitive)
  • a pronunciation be identifiable (3.1.6 AAA) (cognitive)
  • the user not be sent to strange or confusing places on focus (3.2.1) or on input (3.2.2) (cognitive)
  • consistent navigation (3.2.3) and consistent identification of controls (3.2.4)
  • any change of context be initiated by the user so they would not be confused (3.2.5 AAA)
  • error fixes be suggested 3.3.3 and that legal commitments be reversible, checked or confirmed (3.3.4) and strengthened those requirements in 3.3.6 AAA (cognitive)
  • context sensitive help (3.3.5 AAA) (cognitive)
  • the code be parse properly, paving the way to cognitive AT that could make use of clean code. (4.1.1) (cognitive)
  • any custom widgets expose themselves to assistive technologies to help their users operate and understand them. (4.1.2) (cognitive)

WCAG 2.1 help for Cognitive and Low vision Requires the Following:

  • all form fields need autocomplete attribute making them easier to fill out, this also opens the form fields to future assisitive technologies that can wap out form labels for labels used are used to, and provide icons that are familiar to the user (cognitive) 1.3.5
  • Web sites have to be able to fit into a narrow window. Users with low vision who need to make things larger. The content will wrap inside the viewport instead of causing horizontal scroll and allows user to read very short lines. (Cognitive and low vision) 1.4.10
  • Contrast requirements for infomrational images and interface elements. (low vision and cognitive)
  • Requires author not to interfere with user style sheets and other CSS based client side interventions. Also, requires enough space around text that the spacing can be spread out a little bit. Users with low vision or cognitive disabilities who need to override the font, line spacing, paragraph spacing, color scheme etc. (Cognitive, low vision) 1.4.11
  • Requires hover effects like custom tooltips etc, not to obscure the trigger that activated them, and helps users move into the hover box without having it close on them. (low vision)
  • Users are warned of the duration of any user inactivity which could cause data loss, unless the data is preserved for more than 20 hours of inactivity (AAA). (cognitive)
  • Requires authors not to use motion as a result of a user clicking (or activating) something, or provide a way to turn it off. Addresses parallax scrolling and CSS animations etc. (cognitive, vestibular disabilities.) AAA
  • Ensures authors don't interfere with the way a user is accessing content. For instance, don't disable mouse interaction is a user has a touch screen. (All disabilities) AAA

We hope we can continue this tradition of service to all people with disabilities in this new WCAG 2.1 version. In ways that are operable, implementable, testable, and achievable.

Feel free to comment on Twitter @davidmacd

Author information:

David MacDonald is a veteran WCAG member, co-editor of Using WAI ARIA in HTML5 and HTML5 Accessibility Task Force Member. Opinions are my own.


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