Simple language / Ease of comprehension

Using Pictures in Mainstream Communication Programs

Adding pictures to standard communication tools such as address books may provide important visual cues for people with learning or other cognitive disabilities -- users can contact people without knowing how to read or write their names. This article contains information on ways that Macintosh and Windows computers and mobile devices support this feature.

Adding Pictures to Email Address Books

Macintosh

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Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What Is It?

People may have difficulty speaking due to a physical injury or a disability (e.g., cerebral palsy), a cognitive impairment (such as brain injury or autism), or both physical and cognitive disabilities. Some of these people use alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) strategies for communication. This article covers the general principles of AAC; more information about specific strategies is in our article about Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What are the Options?

AAC needs to be matched to the user's physical and cognitive capabilities, but also to the immediacy of their communication needs. If someone is trying to communicate, it is better to quickly provide simple but reasonably effective strategies, such as a sheet of paper with pictures that she can point to, than to wait until more sophisticated options are available.

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Simple Language Makes Reading Easier

Clearly written information benefits any website visitor. However, it is particularly important to the many people who generally have trouble understanding written text. This includes:

•    people with cognitive disabilities
•    new readers (children and adults)
•    beginning English students

This article discusses a common method of measuring website readability, via several free tools. It also provides suggestions for improving your site's score.

Flesch Reading Ease

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Audio Information Resources

People with visual or cognitive impairments can access materials in alternate formats such as large-print, braille and audio. Audio is a popular medium because it works with so many portable devices such as mp3 players, e-book readers, smartphones, and laptops. It's really a mainstream way of distributing content that people with disabilities are using, rather than a specialized channel.

Almost all types of content are available, although publishers may restrict access to some materials.

RoboBraille is a free web-based or email service that will convert digital text documents into mp3 audio files. Your file can be a .doc, .docx, .pdf, .txt, .xml, .html, .htm, .rtf, .epub, .mobi, etc..

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Making Your Organization's Website More Accessible and Usable

Making Your Organization's Website More Accessible and Usable

Website accessibility is less complex than many people believe. It primarily involves adherence to a small number of basic rules for including certain codes or content in ways that can be interpreted effectively by people who are not using the standard monitor, keyboard, or mouse to access and interact with websites.

Guidelines and Standards

Most national and international accessibility guidelines are based on at least one of two sources:

  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). WCAG 1.0 was published in 1999; WCAG 2.0, which is a major revision, was published in 2008. Among other changes, WCAG 2.0 strives to remain relevant as new Internet technologies are developed. WCAG is based on best practices, and is not formally affiliated with any legislation. WCAG has three levels of compliance: A (minimal compliance), AA (enhanced compliance), and AAA (advanced compliance). This document covers Level A and Level AA compliance.
  • Section 508 Standards, which were published in 2000 and are enforceable for Federal agencies under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Subpart B, 1194.22 covers Internet and intranet pages. Section 508 is slated for revision in the near future; when the revised standards are published, they will dovetail far more closely with WCAG 2.0. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which addresses accessibility of places of public accommodation, has recently been amended to cover website accessibility. When Title III standards are published, they will likely be based on WCAG 2.0 and/or Section 508.

What Website Accessibility Means

Website guidelines and standards primarily address two issues:

  • Coding. Many people with disabilities use assistive technologies to access the Internet. Assistive technologies provide an alternative to the monitor (e.g., programs that read information aloud) or to the keyboard and/or mouse (e.g., speech recognition software). These programs are often dependent on the presence of certain HTML tags, attributes, or other pieces of coding to work properly.
  • Interface. The “look and feel” of websites needs to be designed so that they are accessible to people with disabilities, whether or not they use assistive technologies. These guidelines and standards overlap significantly with mainstream usability guidelines. WCAG Level A guidelines primarily cover coding issues; Level AA guidelines cover both coding and interface.

This article discusses Section 508, Level A, and Level AA guidelines, and provides suggestions on how to comply with each of these.

 

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Video Description

Video description (also called 'audio description') lets people with visual impairments hear descriptions of visual elements of movies and television shows with a special narrative track. The narration runs simultaneously with the audio of the performance. These descriptions supplement the dialogue without interrupting it. Elements such as costumes, settings, expressions, etc. are included in this audio track.

Here is an excerpt of a described videoVideo description is only available for a few TV shows and DVDs. New regulations may go into effect expanding this service.

In the U.S., WGBH’s Media Access Group has pioneered work on descriptive video services.

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Captions on Popular Online Video Sites

Online videos have grown in number and importance to the point where deaf, hard of hearing, and other people who need captions are seriously disadvantaged if those captions are not available. For example, some educational institutions offer online training that includes videos, but these are often not available. And of course most informal videos, such as family reunions or school plays, are hardly ever captioned.

Adding to this problem is the fact that there are many different video formats, and the most popular online video sites use different interfaces to control playback.

However, there are some improvements in online captioning, and more progress is on the way. This article covers how to find and view captioned videos online.

Captioning of video websites varies since there is no legal requirement to caption "consumer-generated" videos.  Federal government agencies do have to caption their online videos under Section 508, and a

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Captioning

Captions display the dialogue, narration, and sounds of a video program.  Captions can be found on broadcast programs, DVDs, online, or on any other video technology. They are used by viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, and by people who are learning the language or who benefit from hearing and seeing the content at the same time.

This article explores the basics of captions.  There are other articles here for more specific topics, including how to add captions to a video you are producing.

TVs and Set-top Boxes

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Simplified English for News Articles

News In Levels is a new service that takes online articles in English text and renders them in 3 distinct language levels.

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