Ian, data entry clerk with autism in Stories of Web Users, How People with Disabilities Use the Web
I find it hard to focus on busy pages. For example, lots of animations and videos, particarly ones that start without me doing anything.
Ian is autistic. His autism was identified at an early age because of delays in speech development. Ian received a lot of early childhood support, which helped him develop language and social skills. However, he still experiences some barriers with verbal communication, especially when experiencing anxiety.
Ian works part-time as a data entry clerk. Working with a computer is easy for Ian, although updates to the data entry application can cause him problems if there are significant changes to the interface. This can cause feelings of axiety for Ian if he doesn’t know the change is coming and given time to adapt. It can also be difficult for Ian if someone asks for some work that causes him to use parts of the system that he is not as familiar with. It is important that systems use a consistent layout and navigation.
Ian finds interacting with colleagues via email easy. He has worked with his team to help them appreciate how using plain language and not introducing new metaphors can help him. Many have said they also prefer less corporate jargon as well.
Ian has his own living space in his parent’s home, including his own kitchen. He has been learning how to cook using online videos. However, vague language, metaphors, and implied content in some of the videos makes them to understand. He finds straightforward, practical, step-by-step videos really helpful. Some of the cooking sites Ian uses have a lot of adverts on them with banners and video, which can be distracting. This is particularly bad if there is audio as well, especially if Ian can’t control it easily. It is best when websites don’t automatically play audio and video adverts, or at least let Ian control them.
- Non-literal text barrier
- Problem: “I have difficulty understanding metaphors, acronyms, abbreviations, and words that aren’t used in their literal sense.”
- Works well: “Websites that spell everything out and don’t use metaphors are easier for me to understand.”
- Plain language barrier
- Problem: “Sites that use “fancy” language or long sentences to describe a simple concept are hard to understand.”
- Works well: “I’m better at understanding the content when the authors just use plain language and simple sentences.”
- Consistent layout and navigation barrier
- Problem: “I get confused when I go to a different page on a website and the layout and navigation aren’t the same.”
- Works well: “When there is a consistent “look” to the pages on a site, I can learn where things are.”
- Heading structure barrier
- Problem: “Long pages that are not broken up into sections are hard to read and understand.”
- Works well: “Descriptive headings that are styled like an outline help me to find what I want and better understand the content.”
- Moving or blinking content barrier
- Problem: “Moving or blinking content is distracting and I can’t remember what I wanted to do.
- Works well: It’s best when sites don’t use moving or blinking content but if they do, let me turn it off.”
Assistive technologies and adaptive strategies used
- Pop-up and animation blockers (Presentation)
- Reading assistants (Presentation)
- Volume control (Presentation)
- Spelling and grammar tools (Input)
- Word prediction (Input)
Related WAI resources
- Use case: Amy: An Autistic Computer Scientist
- Video: Understandable Content
- Tip: Use headings to convey meaning and structure
- Tip: Make link text meaningful
- Tip: Provide clear instructions
- Tip: Keep content clear and concise
- Tip: Ensure that interactive elements are easy to identify
- Tip: Provide clear and consistent navigation options
- Tip: Provide easily identifiable feedback
- Tip: Help users avoid and correct mistakes
- Check: Headings
- Check: Forms, labels, and errors
- Content can be presented in different ways (Perceivable)
- Content is easier to see and hear (Perceivable)
- Users can easily navigate, find content, and determine where they are (Operable)
- Content does not cause seizures and physical reactions (Operable)
- Text is readable and understandable (Understandable)
- Content appears and operates in predictable ways (Understandable)