Chapter 5. Cognitive Disabilities


Recently, another group has become more vocal in their need for an accessible web: those with cognitive disorders. These can include:

  • Those with mild to severe dyslexia

  • Those with attention-deficit disorders, such as ADD or ADHD

  • Anyone with an information-processing disorder


Dyslexia is often characterized as people who simply transpose numbers or letters now and then. This couldn’t be further from the truth: dyslexia, like most conditions, ranges from a mild disability to an extremely disabling one, with some people being more strongly affected in some areas than others. It can range from those who can cope in everyday life to those who are rendered functionally illiterate. Some describe letters that move around and swap as they look at them. Others describe words becoming blocks of color.

The effects of dyslexia can go beyond reading. Many find it disrupts their ability to organize information, or keep a virtual map in their head. They complain of headaches and not being able to focus. How can we make a website, which is made of words, easier for someone who has issues with words themselves?


People with dyslexia often report that the universally reviled font Comic Sans is easier to read. They reported that the letters seemed to stay in place better, with rotations and flipping happening less often. Why?

It’s common when designing fonts to simply take one character and flip it about to make four letters. b, p, d, and q are commonly ...

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