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Ian, data entry clerk with autism 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 Ian

I find it hard to focus on busy pages. For example, lots of animations and videos, particarly ones that start without me doing anything are really frustrating.

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.

Barrier examples

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

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This is an unpublished draft preview that might include content that is not yet approved.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