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NCDAE: The National Center on Disability and Access to Education

Increasing universal access by
developing educational resources

Cognitive Disabilities and the Web: Where Accessibility and Usability Meet?

Additional information about cognitive disabilities

Common types of cognitive disabilities include: intellectual disabilities, language and learning difficulties, head injury, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia (11). These conditions can affect memory, perception, conceptualization and problem solving (11; 21) as well as attention, concentration, executive functions, language abilities, emotion, and behavior (29).

Cognitive disabilities can also increase or manifest with age (28; 24; 1) and abilities vary from person to person and can change over time (3). Additionally, reading levels and abilities vary greatly among people with cognitive disabilities (9). Nielsen (19), (2005), estimates that 30% of web users have low literacy and that this will likely increase to 40% within the next few years. Furthermore, accessibility features that make it easier for one user can often make things more difficult for another user (9; 28). In fact, recommendations for one problem are often in direct contradiction to the recommendations for others (29).

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