Cognitive accessibility is closely tied to WCAG 2.0 Principle 3: Understandable which states that “Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable”. (WebAIM does a great job in explaining what Cognitive Disabilities actually are.) The guidelines under this principle are:
Guideline 3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.
Guideline 3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Guideline 3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
There’s been an increase in articles about cognitive accessibility which is great because it’s the most difficult and typically least discussed. Here’s a great list of them below. Feel free to comment with any that were missed.
In the U.S. in March 2008, users connecting at 56Kbps or less now make up 11.18% of active Internet users.
CWA Communications reported that the “median real-time download speed in the U.S. is a mere 2.3 megabits per second (mbps). The best available estimates show average download speeds in Japan of 63 mbps, in South Korea of 49 mbps and in France of 17 mbps.
Chart shows that from January 1995 to January 2008, there was a tremendous growth of average page size and average number of objects. The average page file size went from 14.1k in 1995, to 93.7k in 2003, to over 312k in 2008. The average number of page objects went from 2.3k in 1995, to 25.7 in 2003, to nearly 50 in 2008.
This has become an issue for me of late, and it needs more attention. And that is lack of sub-headings in articles. Not just the page heading and/or article heading, but headings throughout an article to make it more accessible and usable. Especially so the longer an article is. (And of course, use proper markup! H1, H2, etc.)
Among many, I came across the following articles which could really use more headings. The articles are fairly long, and could no doubt be broken up into sections.
Why are headings so important? First of all, it’s part of accessibility guidelines such as WCAG 2.0; see section 2.4.6 Headings and Labels. The W3C points out that headings create meaning when read out of context. And they help people with limited short-term memory. In addition, headings provide:
Better navigation for screenreaders.
Default formatting when CSS is not available.
Scanning more usable and readable document.
Here are examples of articles with good use of headings: