Survey of the linguistic accessibility of websites designed for people with intellectual disability
Issue: Vol 7 No. 3 (2010)
Internet usage is high amongst the general population but access problems persist for adults with intellectual disability. A descriptive study was conducted to explore linguistic accessibility of websites designed for this user group. The purposive sample comprised fifteen U.K. based websites associated with the self advocacy organisation People First, plus a matched, mainstream website for comparison. Linguistic measures at lexical and sentence levels were applied to text samples from each website. Readability scores ranged from 4.4 to 23.6 with only three websites achieving below the recommended standard for universal accessibility. Word variability scores ranged from 54 to 80 with many websites employing diverse vocabularies. Most of the websites achieved word frequency mean values within the 5 to 800,000 range. Only one website achieved scores indicative of positive accessibility value on all three measures. Mainstream website scores were unremarkable compared to the People First websites. Linguistic accessibility of websites designed for people with intellectual disability appears to be highly variable. A review of text authoring principles is called for as well as consideration of a mediating role for significant others providing support.
Author: Karen Bunning, Emma Trapp, Kate Seymour, Michele Fowler, Beth Rollett