[Accessibility] Fwd: Introductions, common interest - Technology Standards for Cognitive Disabilities

Robinson, Norman B - Washington, DC Norman.B.Robinson at usps.gov
Fri Mar 4 07:55:23 PST 2005

Welcome Sandy,

	I'm new here too, but based on your most precursory review of
the available resources you may wish to read  " An Accessibility
Frontier: Cognitive disabilities and learning difficulties"
(http://www.usability.com.au/resources/cognitive.cfm) as a good place to

	As a person with a family member with severe mental disability,
having lived through a dark time with how he was perceived as a person,
I can say that although I don't have a 'solution' I appreciate the
problem. Part of the problem is awareness. 

	Stigma & Social pressure: People are uncomfortable being
identified with a cognitive problem. People referencing individuals want
to do so with compassion, but don't know how to address the issue,
language, and would rather avoid talking about it.

	Awareness: People (specifically developers in this context)
don't know what a mental disability, mental retardation, or cognitive
disorder is or think of the worse-case scenarios. 

	Specific techniques: If you are aware, how do you target for a
specific cognitive problem? We need more examples of a "use-case" to
learn how to address the issues. Then we could develop requirements we
think will target the problem.

	Technology: What specific technologies address the issues TODAY?
Problems with your vision can be addressed with a screen-reader or
screen magnifier. Problems with your hearing can be addressed by
amplification or visual alerts. Problems with your physical input can be
addressed by allowing equivalent keyboard access only; not requiring a
mouse for instance. How is technology or devices assisting individuals
with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)? 
	I personally think the best approach is to have your information
and content organized as possible. Young children can use content
developed for an audience with "more cognitive power" or "more advanced
language skills". I don't have to use terms like "vernacular" (instead
of simply stating "the everyday language of the people" but I do. It is
just how I speak and write. I don't think less of people that don't know
the words I use, and I don't try to use words that are complex because I
think they make me sound smart or complex. They function for me. That
said, if I my TARGET audience was 5 year old kids, I would target the
appropriate languages and goals.
	That is the final summation: trying to get developers and
content creators to understand their TARGET audience isn't who think it
is. Ultimately, why should they have to know? Use standard OPEN
techniques, technologies, and allow others to ADAPT your information for
a purpose other than for what it was designed - I hope that is what
people attribute to my work.


	Norman B. Robinson
	Section 508 Coordinator 
	IT Governance, US Postal Service

-----Original Message-----
From: accessibility-bounces at mail.freestandards.org
[mailto:accessibility-bounces at mail.freestandards.org] On Behalf Of Sandy
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 7:49 PM
To: Alfred.S.Gilman at ieee.org; Cheryl.Trepagnier at medstar.net; Janina
Sajka; Bill Haneman; Rich Levinson; carmien at cs.colorado.edu;
ngscott at hawaii.edu; accessibility at freestandards.org
Subject: [Accessibility] Fwd: Introductions,common interest - Technology
Standards for Cognitive Disabilities

I was recently at the FSG Accessibility Workgroup
meeting that was held here in Hawaii where the topic
of standards Linux accessibility were being discussed.
 I was mentioning that I would like to see some group
begin to discuss cognitive disabilities to be included
in the standards for human computer interface, OS accessibility,
telecommunications, web access or in general ADA standards.

I'm not sure that the current standards address their
needs, I'm guessing they don't, but I haven't done any
real research about that.  I did take a cursory look
and nothing popped out at me.  I haven't identified
any groups that are already looking into these issues
either.  We did notice at the FSG meeting that there
was not a group specifically assigned to this task,
and there was general agreement that the topic comes
up, but everyone generally pushes it into the future. 
So here I am, wondering who else might be interested
in the topic.

And so, I've included you in this email, because I
think you may also have some insights, knowledge, or
opinions about the subject that could help get
discussion going.

In order to think about standards or accomodations it
would probably be good to some general research. So I
would guess that a good starting place would be to
gather up the standards
find some experts in cognitive issues( not me, I'm
just interested) and get a general definition of which cognitive
disabilities are going to be most impacted by technology(learning and
intellectual, Attention deficits, dyslexia, and how they manifest -
working memory, level of understanding, complexity of use, ability to
retrace steps, numbers of steps required to perform tasks).

Please feel free to send me back any information or
leads that you have regarding the subject.  I don't
have any sort of formal working strategy for this yet.
 I'm just gathering up information for now.  I think
the issue is probably too big for just FSG
Accessibility to address, and I'm not sure that they
are the best group, but it's a start.

Sandy Gabrielli
Senior Software Engineer, Archimedes Hawaii Project
University of Hawaii
879 N King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817-4514
Ph: (808) 832-3729
FAX: (808) 832-3724

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