Preety, young student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia in Stories of Web Users, How People with Disabilities Use the Web

About Preety

My text reader helps me focus on what I am reading. I don’t use it all the time but for long text it is super helpful

Preety is a 13-year-old with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As a person with ADHD, Preety has difficulty following multi-step or long tasks. This can make it hard to maintain focus on her schoolwork. Visual supports, such as icons and images, and good use of whitespace around what she is looking at can help her to focus. She can become lost in dense text and is unable to find the meaning. When this happens she gives up because it takes too long and is tiring. This has caused her to fall behind in her work compared to other students.

Preety’s school has recently transitioned to using digital textbooks. This has been a huge improvement for Preety who can now use her text-to-speech software to aid her understanding of what are sometimes complex texts. Preety also uses the web for research. Unfortunately, her experience on the web can be varied. Often sites contain content such as animated advertisments and graphics which she can find distracting.

Preety finds it easier to use websites that have a simple and consistent layout with content written in plain language. Images or icons can also help to reinforce the meaning of the text. Sometimes she uses functionality in her text-to-speech software that allows her to change the page background color. This is especially helpful when she is tired. Pretty also uses captions when watching videos because both hearing and seeing the words reinforces their meaning.

Preety is a fan of old science fiction movies and spends a lot of time on fan made sites and forums. She has spending limits on her card and she uses this to buy fan memorabilia. The design of these sites and purchasing process can make this difficult. They are often quite busy with distracting advertisements and complicated checkout forms. She has found that she can access these sites on her mobile phone where she can switch on the browser reading mode to remove a lot of the background clutter. This allows her to focus on the task and makes the steps much clearer.

Preety experiences problems with sites where the navigation of the site is unclear. She finds it much easier to use sites which include functions such as a sitemap, breadcrumb trails or a search function. Preety has difficulty with spelling so benefits from search functionality which suggests alternative spellings and error corrections.

Barrier examples

Spelling suggestions
Problem: “I have difficulty with spelling and sometimes misspell words. Sometimes I don’t get the search results I’m looking for.”
Works well: “I like when search tools offer alternative spellings or alternative search suggestions instead of just returning no results.”
Distracting pop-ups
Problem: “Banner ads and popups can be distracting for me, especially if they contain moving text or images.”
Works well: “It’s great when I can turn off these images and also any background audio. If the site includes controls to allow me to do that then that’s great. Even better if I can turn these off using an ad blocker in my browser.”
Complex language
Problem: “Complex language and sentence structure are confusing to me and hard to read and retain.
Works well: Use short sentences and plain language as much as possible.”
Excessive acronyms and abbreviations
Problem: “Excessive use of acronyms and abbreviations is distracting and I often must reread several times or sometimes just get stuck and give up.”
Works well: “Spell out the complete words of an acronym at least the first time it is used. Avoid or explain abbreviations.”

Assistive technologies and adaptive strategies used

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