There are of course marked differences in cognitive skills between individuals with learning difficulties and it would be virtually impossible to design a website to meet all requirements – however here are some general rules worth applying when creating websites for this demographic.
Design simple uniform screen layouts (with the option of only viewing one thing at a time), keep jargon to a minimum and use plain language and avoid pages overloaded with too many distractions (like flashing graphics) or too many choices (like a large cumbersome navigation system).
For the same reason avoid long lists of links unless they are arranged in logical groups of no more than five or six links each.
The combination of auditory information, pictures, and text helps to reinforce navigation and actions for those who have a short attention span or are easily distracted.
This will also be useful for those who cannot read (over 80 per cent) or are surfing the web with assistance. Auditory information should be clear, simple and repeatable.
Other suggestions include:
- Provide a plain language description of the site
- Include a simple way and obvious way to return to your home page
- Avoid animated graphics – if they change too quickly their use can lead to cognitive overload
- Simplify sequences – limit choice and number of steps