This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at

Sophie, basketball fan with Down syndrome in Stories of Web Users, How People with Disabilities Use the Web

Note: This user story is an example of a person with this type of disability. Other people with this disability may have different experiences.

About Sophie

I like to buy tickets for home games because I know the site well. When I have to buy tickets for away games it is hard for me. All the different sites do things in different ways.

Sophie was born with Down syndrome and experiences barriers when dealing with abstract concepts, reading, and math calculations. Due to her distinct facial appearance and difficulties with speech, many people underestimate Sophie’ intelligence and capabilities. Even though she has difficulty expressing herself, Sophie understands a great deal. She learned basic computer skills in vocational school and since then, she has taught herself how to use websites to order groceries and maintain her bank account, among other things.

Sophie loves basketball. She played on her school team and now plays in a local club. She is an enthusiastic fan and takes her kids to games when she can. Buying tickets online can be difficult sometimes for Sophie. Venues all seem to have different ways to buy tickets and it can sometimes be confusing. This is particularly difficult when the venue website links off to a separate site that looks totally different. Especially confusing is when she clicks on a link and ends up in a PDF file. Sophie likes sites that have a consistent “feel” when going from section to section and page to page. This means the overall layout maintains a similar theme and the placement of the navigation doesn’t change too much, and that she is warned when clicking on a link that goes to a different site.

Sophie works part-time in the local library. She is keen to find a full-time office job but worries that the jargon in the workplace will make this difficult at first. Writing in “plain language” is really helpful. If something can be said using simpler terminology or shorter sentences, that makes it easier for her to understand and use the information. Also, acronyms and abbreviations really slow her down because she has to spend time trying to figure them out or going to look them up. Headings are also a huge help as it splits up the page and she can digest information in smaller chunks, kind of like an outline of the page. When navigating a page, having good focus and link styling helps her know where she is and what she can click on.

Getting a mobile phone was a huge deal for Sophie. She finds that apps that have fewer options and fewer decisions are clearer for her and easier to use. Using the phone for shopping is really easy for Sophie. Being able to find the things she usually buys is a huge help.

Barrier examples

Breadcrumb trail
Problem: ““When I follow several links, sometimes I feel lost and I just want to get back to where I started.”
Works well: “A breadcrumb at the top of the page that shows all of the pages I was on helps me feel oriented and lets me go back to a familiar page.”
Plain language
Problem: “Sometimes when I’m looking something up, I don’t understand the words they use.”
Works well: “If simpler words can be used, use them. If there aren’t simpler words, give me a definition or point me to a glossary. Avoid the use of acronyms and abbreviations.”
Clear link styling
Problem: “Designers like to get fancy with links and sometimes it’s hard to figure out the difference between the links and highlighted text or headings.”
Works well: “Use blue underlined text for unvisited links and purple for visited links.”
Problem: “When I’m filling out forms, it’s sometimes hard to know what they want in each field.”
Works well: “Tell me what fields are required, put a simple and clear label on each form field, and give me an example of the format they want, especially for dates.”
Problem: “Because I’m a slow reader, it’s frustrating when the website times out and I need to start all over.”
Works well: “Give a warning before the website times out and offer an option to stay online.”
Headings and Links
Problem: “I get confused and overwhelmed when I’m on a page that has a lot of text.”
Works well: “It helps when pages are broken up into sections with clear headings. Also, pictures or images that show what is being said help my understanding and they break up the page so it’s not so overwhelming. In-page links, like a table of contents, can help me to know what is on the page so I can quickly get to the information I’m looking for.”
Problem: “Moving or animated text or pictures is really distracting. It keeps pulling my attention away from what I’m trying to do.”
Works well: “If there has to be moving or animated content, let me stop it.”

Assistive technologies and adaptive strategies used

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This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved. The published website is at