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Doe, J,, 2012. [TC4R Symposium] Subject. [E-mail] Message to RDWG Comments ( Sent 00 November 2012. Available at: [Accessed 12 December 12].
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Research Report on Text Customization for Readability

NOTE: This is a rough, in-progress draft.

[front matter as defined by W3C]



Status of the document

[mostly W3C boilerplate] @@ invitation for public review & comments -- specific questions for consideration


[@@ first pass - to be updated after content settles down a bit :-]

Communications and interactions are increasingly provided through the Web and electronic media. This offers the opportunity for unprecedented access to information and interaction for people with print disabilities because the accessibility barriers to print can be more easily overcome through technology. Print disabilities encompass people who cannot effectively read “normal” print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability [1].

Much of the effort to date in this area has been on providing access for people who are blind [2].... However, less effort has been invested to meet the needs of other people with print disabilities, including people with low vision and people with dyslexia. <from>

This research report explores the needs of people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions and situations that impact reading. It focuses specifically on text customization requirements and functionality, that is, providing users the ability to change (or personalize) various aspects of text display to improve readability for their particular needs. It investigates:

  • Understanding users' text customization needs and requirements - What aspects of text customization improve readability? Which aspects of text customization are necessary requirements for people to be able to read effectively, and which are optional suggestions to improve readability?
  • Integrating text customization functionality and requirements - How well do existing text customization functionality and interfaces support users' needs? How effectively do user agents (web browsers, etc.) and web content share the responsibility for text customization?
  • Moving forward - How might we increase awareness of the need for text customization, and the benefits? What text customization functionality should be included in products in order to meet users' needs? How should text customization requirements be better addressed in accessibility guidelines, web standards, and other best practice guides?

The ultimate goal of this work is to encourage user agent developers, standards developers, policy makers, web designers, and others to provide specific functionality in mainstream web products by helping them better understand and implement text customization.

WAI-RDWG Symposium

One reason for lack of sufficient text customization functionality may be a lack of awareness of and research on users' needs, and how they can best be met. WAI-RDWG organised a symposium on 19 November 2012, with the intention of helping to address that gap. This Research Note is the outcome of that symposium.

The symposium focused specifically on text customization requirements and functionality, that is, providing users the ability to change (or personalize) various aspects of text formatting to improve readability for their particular needs.

Users: The primary focus was on people with disabilities. However, relevant studies in related areas — such as older web users, people with low literacy, and situational issues (e.g., reading in low light) — were in scope if the information is also applicable to people with disabilities.

Tools: Research on assistive technologies and specialized tools for allowing users to customize text was in scope, to inform potential inclusion of text customization functionality in mainstream products.

Technologies: The primary technology focus was on web browsers, media players, and plug-ins such as PDF Reader, Flash, Silverlight, QuickTime. Papers related to other technologies, such as eBook readers, were in scope if the information also is applicable to web technologies.

This research note does not address the following topics:

  • what is the optimum font and format for text;
  • legibility;
  • the impact of animated content (e.g. ads) on reading, and reading level.

Related topics were addressed in a companion Easy-to-Read on the Web Symposium held on December 2012. [link to report when it's ready]

User Focus

Millions of people cannot read “normal” text, and millions more will not be able to in the coming years as their vision declines due to aging [6-7]. An estimated 15–20% of the population has symptoms of dyslexia [8] and 246 million have low vision (compared to 39 million who are blind) [6].

This report focuses on the largest groups of people with print disabilities: those who can see and can read, but have difficulty reading text in common formats and need to specify different text format in order to read effectively [6-7]. <from> It includes:

[@@DS: formal definition of user groups who do, or may, benefit from text customisation - this section should define the scope of the note in terms of user groups based on what the literature identifies as those who benefit]

  • people with low vision, including people with declining eyesight due to aging,
  • people with dyslexia and related disabilities,
  • people with other difficulties reading,
  • anyone in difficult situations that impact reading, such as high stress situations, low light conditions, reading on a moving mobile phone, reading a non-native language, and readers with low literacy.

[@@DS: move this into section discussing awareness and uptake of text customisation] [SLH: the following paragraph talks about why people do not use AT - so not sure if it's about awareness and uptake?] The primary focus is on people who use mainstream technologies and do not regularly use assistive technologies (AT), such as screen magnification. Some people do not use AT because the functionality does not meet their needs, poor usability, complexity, cost, availability, or other factors. For example, some people do not use screen magnification because while they need to increase text size to read, they do not want to increase images or other screen elements; and some need text to wrap to avoid horizontal scrolling — functionality that most screen magnification software does not provide. Research with AT users can inform how to meet the needs of this user group.
[@@SLH: issue of screen magnification software not meeting needs is interesting - not sure yet how it fits in the report]

Quesenbery 2006 reported how different users have similar needs for text content. ["It ranges from teens just leaving secondary school, adults considering updating their professional qualifications, people with some university experience trying to complete their degrees, to older adults—often pursuing a personal interest in a subject. It also includes people speaking English as a second language, as well as people with a wide range of disabilities who are attracted by the flexibility of study at the Open University."] Quesenbery 2012 relates this to text customization.

For example, it is generally know that older users prefer larger fonts. ["One surprising finding in this study: teenagers don't like tiny font sizes... However, small type often caused problems or provoked negative comments from the teen users in our study. Even though most teens are sufficiently sharp-eyed, they move too quickly and are too easily distracted to attend to small text." <>]


[@@DS rewrite to change focus from the symposium to the Research note. At this stage, we need to establish the relationship of text customisation to web accessibility more generally. This can introduce limitations in knowledge, to be explored in more detail later on in the text] [@@SLH - also pull out relevant info from paper backgrounds]

Many people need to be able to customize text in order to read effectively. Aspects of text formatting that users need to customize include: text size, text color and background color, font face, leading/line spacing, linearization/reflow, kerning, letter spacing, word spacing, line length, text style, justification, and more — including changes to all text and changes at the element level (e.g., headings different from body text).

However, there are few resources that provide clear guidance on text customization. Additionally, most of this customization has not been well integrated in mainstream <a href="" shape="rect"> user agents</a> (web browsers, etc.), nor is it sufficiently included in some accessibility standards and support material (such as the <a href="" shape="rect">Section 508 standards</a>).

Readability Beyond Legibility

In order to understand the needs of people with low vision, dyslexia, and related conditions that impact reading, it is important understand the distinction between legibility and readability1. [3] Legibility is related to perceiving text by distinguishing letters. Readability is related to reading and comprehending textual information. Thus text could be somewhat legible to a user, yet not functionally readable; that is, with effort the user could distinguish one letter from another, but could not effectively read sentences because of the text formatting.

Many research studies on text legibility focused on perceiving small amounts of text [4]. Even many studies on readability use work periods as short as one to ten minutes [4]. A study on reading and visual fatigue found little negative effect after six hours of reading; however, these were people without print disabilities [5]. In the study reported in this paper, participants reported that strain, discomfort, and fatigue are significant limiting factors when reading text that is not well formatted for them.

The author assumes that many of the accessibility guidelines for electronic media are also focused on small amounts of text, such as website navigation, forms, and short descriptions. Thus the guidelines may be sufficient for legibility, but not for readability. ... To read large amounts of text, users need to be able to customize more aspects of text formatting.

Footnote 1: In his seminal research, Tinker [4] used only the term legibility to avoid confusion with readability formulas for the level of difficulty of the language; however, most literature distinguishes between legibility and readability as used in this paper.<from>

Existing Research Overview

[@@SLH TO DO integrate throughout the appropriate sections]

The needs of people who have disabilities and conditions that impact reading have been addressed in a wide range of research studies. Most of the research focuses on one user group, such as older users, and one domain, such as websites.

Most research on making text more readable for people with low vision is designed to determine optimum characteristics such as font face and size [9]. There is similar on improving readability of text for people with dyslexia [10]. Many of the results suggest characteristics for readability in print, and more recent literature addresses electronic media. There are some recommendations for online readability, both for older technology and for newer technology such as is available in e-book readers.

There is less research on what users should be able to customize in order to optimize readability for their particular impairment and situation. Work in this area tends focus on a specific user group and situation, such as older users who are new to the Web or adult students with dyslexia. Specialized software has been developed for such users, for example, [11-14]. Yet most of this customisation has not been well integrated in mainstream user agents, nor is it sufficiently included in some accessibility standards and support material (such as the Section 508 standards [15]).

Additional research is needed to understand, document, and communicate the needs of users in order to encourage inclusion of additional text customisation functionality in mainstream user agents. [16] says, “…end user customization plays a central role in accessibility considering dyslexia. Nevertheless, only two guidelines where found regarding this subject. Thus, a deeper study on end user customization is an identified gap that needs to be bridged.” <from>

User Agent Support for Customisation

[overview of support in browsers - besides support for user style sheets, what is available through the browser functionality - probably not go into specifics for each browser, but just overview of common]

[PDF here, too? -- how relate to Gap section below?]

[observations on emerging trends in text customisation support - contrasting support in smartphones, tablets and e-book readers with desktop browsers]

Specialized Text Customisation Tools

Over recent years, several tools have been developed with the aim of supporting individuals in customising the presentation of web content to suit personal reading needs.

How are current customisation tools designed?

  • in the browser
  • as browser add-ons
  • as standalone ATs
  • as widgets in web content

What do we know about the usability of these customisation tools (in terms of how easy it is for users to use the tools to apply desired customisation)?

[@@DS - need to discuss most effective presentation of these tools - text, table, etc. Classification according to technical approach e.g. transcoding a web page; browser add on to apply specific styling; widget added to page content][@@SLH list seems fine. don't think it needs the complexity of a table.]


  • IBM Web Adaptiation Technology (Richards and Hanson 2004; Hanson et al 2005)
  • PAN (Iaccarino et al 2006)

Adaptive interfaces

Browser extensions

Some TC4R symposium authors described the development of customisation tools under development. [Olaf Drummer, symposium paper 6] describes exploration of text customisation for PDF... [Vasile Topac, symposium paper 8] describes text4all, a server-side transcoding tool, but at the time of writing no evaluations of the tool had been evaluated.

Text Customisation in Standards and Guidelines

[@@DS review coverage of text customisation in existing standards - currently there are links to WCAG 2 SCs and UAAG 2 draft guidelines relevant to TC - could move those here?]

Text customisation in Access For All 3.0 and ISO 24751.

Lack of Awareness

Much of the effort to date in providing access to electronic text has been on providing access for people who are blind [2 <from]. However, less effort has been invested to meet the needs of other people with print disabilities, including people with low vision and people with dyslexia.

Now there are cases where information is accessible to people who are blind and use screen readers, yet not accessible to people who can see.

  • "my totally blind husband is able to successfully use his screen reader on web pages that are completely unreadable by me" (Rivera Ley 2012)
  • "Just because it is accessible through voice output does not mean it is accessible for people who are not blind but have serious visual impairments." <>

@@ "accessible PDF" is not —"with the technology currently available, PDF is not sufficiently accessible to many people with low vision, dyslexia, and related conditions that impact reading" [ref:]

[There appears to be a general lack of awareness of the importance of text customization.] ["this problem stems from a lack of understanding of the needs of low vision users" (Rivera Ley 2012)][For example, the Product Manager for Accessibility at a major software developer said that he has only heard of the need for text customization from two people [personal communication, March 2012].] ...

Possible reasons for the lack of awareness include:

  • Lack of a well-organized advocacy efforts (for example, that exist for users who are blind) ["insufficient self-advocacy by users with low vision who lack the resources and forum to express their web text customization needs" (Rivera Ley 2012)]
  • Lack of awareness among users of the potential for text customization in user agents ["After interviewing professionals with low vision, I found that many do not use the current workarounds like the Zoom slider bar in Internet Explorer" (Rivera Ley 2012)]
  • Lack of clear requirements in WCAG 2.0 at Level AA or A
  • Lack of awareness of UAAG
  • ...

[some older people more willing to accept, rather struggle instead of change color and text - social acceptance dilemma - don't want to use something special - don't want to acknowledge that I need this change! normalization of customization. (e.g., iPhone users will zoom text, but not on PC/Mac.) look at other research on user profiling & adaptation for older people. Users see Word as a tool for you to make stuff look like you want; whereas, web page is a magazine that someone else made for you to read in a certain format.]

[call for easier UI for text size back in 2002 <>]

[IRC log comments that mobile helping to bringing awareness...] [Eileen's comments in the symposium on using Youtube to encourage sharing of personal experiences]

The Impact of Text Display on Users

[@@ expand this section]

Additionally, some people seems not to realize the impact of text display on many users (might consider text customization optional).

Existing research, anecdotal evidence, and input into this Symposium provides evidence of the importance of text customization. Users report discomfort, pain, nausea, and other complications from reading text that they cannnot sufficiently customize.

  • "many authors choose backgrounds that are painful to my eyes" & "I use my style sheet to avoid serious headaches, eye pain and nausea. " <>
  • "light backgrounds on webpages hurt my eyes and make reading impossible." ... "completely fatigued" (Rivera Ley 2012)
  • "This causes visual disturbance and, typically, a bad headache as well." (Lee 2012)
  • eye strain and pain; neck and back pain; nausea <>
  • {input requested: additional reports, especially in peer-reviewed literature}


  • "it is apparent that a number of other people struggle with ClearType and complain of blurring" - lists examples where the issue is discussed (Lee 2012)


The Need for Text Customisation

The primary finding from the literature review was that there is not a single text format that will meet most users needs; instead, users need to be able to customize text to meet their particular needs. The need for text customisation was supported by findings from this initial user study.

Research results and published guidelines have different recommendations for many aspects of text format. As just one example, leading/line spacing recommendations for people with low vision, dyslexia, or who are older, range from 1.25 to 2.0 [17-26].

Without customisation, a users’ needs can conflict with general best practice. For example, a participant with dyslexia said, “I write and read a lot better in all upper case”; whereas, all guidelines found in the literature review suggest avoiding all caps [e.g., 20-25].

Without customisation, one user’s needs can conflict with another user’s needs. For example, many people with declining eyesight due to ageing need high contract between text and background colour [24], [26]; whereas many people with dyslexia and other reading impairments need low contrast [14]. The participants in this study used a range of settings, from black text on a brown background to white text on black background. Regarding choosing from pre-defined text and background colour combinations, a participant said: “Someone else’s idea [of what I need] is useless.”

Not only are there differences between users, but an individual user’s needs can change. Participants in this study reported that their needs varied depending on the amount of text to be read, the time of day, fatigue, and complexity of the information.

In summary, the existing literature and the findings from this initial study clearly point to the requirement for users to be able to customize text according to their specific needs at a given time.<from>

  • "Text customization is not a one size fits all proposition. Text customized for one person may be unreadable for another. Even for an individual, optimal customization may vary as vision fluctuates. Web guidelines and practices must provide highly flexible solutions that meet the "one size fits one" requirements of users with low vision." (Rivera Ley 2012)
  • "Even for an individual, optimal customization may vary as vision fluctuates." (Rivera Ley 2012)
  • Each day I see differently depending on the level of inflammation in my cornea. [need permission to reference because would reveal identity]
  • Different display requirements for different content and situations -- e.g., Dick has different user style sheet for composing than for reading (because don't need as big a font for composing because I already know what the text is)

Specific Aspects of Text Display that Users Need to Customize

[intro text...]

Perspectives from User Style Sheets

Henry 2012a reports on users' perspectives on the importance of being able to customize specific aspects of text display. The following received at least 2 on a scale of 1-4:

  • text size
  • linearization/reflow, e.g., changing from multiple columns to a single column
  • text colour and background colour
  • leading/line spacing
  • justification
  • text style, e.g., underlining, italics, all capital letters
  • other visual characteristics such as borders, margins, indentation, [padding], [white space]
  • font face/typeface/font family
  • kerning, letter spacing, and word spacing
  • line length, i.e., the number of characters per line

Henry 2012b reports that in user style sheets, users customized the following aspects of text display:

  • font-size
  • color [of text]
  • background-color
  • font-family
  • line-height
  • text-align
  • width
  • font-weight
  • margin
  • font-variant
  • text-decoration

Perspectives from Individuals

[@@ Individual opinions expressed as contributions to the Symposium:

  • Anthony - font family (in paper), color (in email Lee, 2012b)
  • Silas
  • Eileen
  • Suzette
  • Ginny

[specific mention of inverse colour systems and known accessibility issues relating to loss of content due to low-contrast or missing background images]

Perspectives from Other Studies

@@Other studies that have gathered data on:

  • what customisation changes people report as making
  • what customisation changes people report they would like to make but can't

Element-Level Customization

[seen in user style sheets. Dick paper]

Gap Between Users’ Needs and Current Functionality

... [ here's what exists.. above is what people need...]

Evidence for Missing Functionality

Evidence for lack of sufficient support in user agents includes users coping text from web user agents and pasting into other programs in order to customize it.


  • text in images cannot be changed, also "Such text is therefore off limits to me because once it has been embedded/subset, it cannot be changed (other than zoomed) and is therefore blurred." (Lee 2012)


  • "Before I knew how to apply stylesheets to any webpage, I used to copy the text from a web page and paste it into Word or other text editor so I could format it to read it." <>
  • 'Reading some web text requires me to copy it into Word, increase font size, adjust colors, and increase margins to insure that text reflows properly. These text gymnastics are tedious and time consuming." (Rivera Ley 2012)
  • "a participant described how, when he encountered text on a Web page that he found difficult to read, he would copy the text into Word and enlarge it appropriately, since he knew that Word allowed him to customise text appearance." (Sloan 2012)

Browser Functionality

[point to the Background...]

Most mainstream web browsers provide functionality for users to customize text size, text colour and background colour, font face, and provide zoom functionality. They provide functionality for users to set their own style sheets to additionally customize leading/line spacing (line-height), letter spacing, word spacing, width, text style, justification, and more.

Do-able but Difficult [user CSS]

[Suzette Keith - line spacing control as an example of customisation that is currently difficult to implement]

[Anthony Lee - personal experience of difficulty with sub-pixel rendering of fonts, and difficulty in making necessary customisation]


[@@ from Silas e-mail limitations of user CSS with web design & browser issues ]

[Wayne Dick - argument for customisation at the element level - where different instances of the same HTML element in the same document may be styled differently, in order to give distinct semantic meaning. Applying customisation to that element would then remove this visual 0- and hence semantic - distinction
Silas Brown - there are limitations in control over specificity of user CSS (relating to Wayne Dick's observation above), of impact on script-generated content, on content not subject to CSS (e.g. title attribute. Argument that this *is* web content, rather than extension of the user agent UI) ]

PDF Readers

[Olaf Drummer and Vasile Topac on PDF to HTML]

In contrast to functionality provided through web browsers, several aspects of text customisation are not provided by Adobe Reader, even to advanced users. Adobe Reader does provide some functionality: text and background colour customisation, zoom, and reflow that temporarily puts text in a single column. However, there are limitations to the latter two, described below. Additionally, PDF documents cannot be printed when zoomed or reflowed. The importance of printing for people with dyslexia is described in [27].

Adobe says of Reader’s reflow limitations: "Text that does not reflow includes forms, comments, digital signature fields, and page artifacts, such as page numbers, headers, and footers. Pages that contain both readable text and form or digital signature fields do not reflow." [28] In reflow mode, the search/find-in-document feature does not work at all.

Documents with some layouts are not functionally readable to some users when zoomed, such as research papers formatted in two columns. When users get to the bottom of a column, they have to scroll up to find the top of the next column and the physical and cognitive effort required can break the flow of reading and understanding substantially. As an example of how significant this is for most users, a participant with dyslexia said about reading text in one column not requiring scrolling: “I struggle with getting to the start of the next line”. Getting from the bottom of a column to the top of the next is even more difficult.

Adobe Reader does not provide functionality for users to set font face, text size for specific elements, leading/line spacing, and most other aspects of text formatting. To the authors knowledge, currently no other PDF user agents provide the text customisation that users need. Thus the existing literature and this exploratory study indicate that with the technology currently available, PDF is not sufficiently accessible to many people with low vision, dyslexia, and related conditions that impact reading.<from>

[need to look at other PDF readers as well]

[?other tools/technologies?]

Supporting Text Customisation Ideally

The ideal model of supporting Web accessibility in general, as articulated in the WAI document [Essential Components of Web Accessibility], is that:

  1. web content is created with accessibility in mind;
  2. user agents support accessibility features that allow a user to receive content in a format appropriate to their specific needs;
  3. users with specific accessibility needs are aware of those needs and have appropriately configured their user agent (and assisitive technology if necessary) to accommodate their needs.

For text customisation, this means that:

  1. web content is designed in a way that allows the presentation of textual content to be changed from the default presentation to meet a user's personal reading needs. This includes meeting WCAG success criteria relating to:
  2. user agents support text customisation through [@@DS - referencing draft UAAG 2.0 here]:
  3. web users who have difficulty reading textual content understand what customisation needs adequately address their readability needs and have the means to apply this customisation.

In reality, though, sufficient accessibility support is often not provided:

  1. web content has accessibility issues that prevent effective customisation;
  2. user agents do not adequately support customisation in a way that addresses all readability problems;
  3. many web users who have difficulty reading textual content are not be aware of specific customisation solutions that would improve readability.

Longer term, this situation could be resolved by:

  1. greater awareness and implementation of accessible web authoring practices by web authors and those commissioning web content;
  2. user agents with more extensive and prominent support for text customisation;
  3. education of web users on the role that text customisation can play in improving the web browsing experience.

[@@SLH - I think we want a whole section on how to help address this — e.g., Does WCAG provide sufficient guideance for supporting text customzation? Are additinoal techniques needed? Would it be useful to have a Best Practices for Supporting Text Customization application note? Is text customization sufficiently covered in UAAG 2? How to we raised awareness of UAAG and encourage user agents to follow it? etc. :-] [@@DS Yes, agreed - pulling out those specific guidelines from UAAG underlined just how important it is that we produce something of practical use to the UAAG working group]</p>

Improving the User Experience of Customizing Text

[previous heading: Improving the user experience of applying text customisation]
[I think the also applies to Today - maybe bring it up a level somehow?]

There are a number of enhancements that could be made to the process of of selecting and applying appropriate customisation. These coould include improving the usability of the user interface of text customisation tools (e.g., showing the font options in the font itself; showing the colour choices in the colours themselves; making sure text customization is accessible, e.g., text display widget is keyboard accessible; how to help users know what helps them - do this test and heres a set of display options that will help you best; providing minimal simple options, e.g., 3 color combinations choices, PLUS advanced functionality for multiple options, i.e., picking each colour from full palette)

[some suggestions for browsers & content developer <>]

Supporting Users in Customizing Text for their Needs

[previous heading: Supporting users in choosing appropriate customisation]
[doesn't see to flow well here. maybe it will fit better under Moving Forward?]

Most tools and research on text customization has left users to set text display with little guidance. [refs like Hanson & Richards?] Dick 2012 proposes a more formal approach for determining optimum text display for users. ...more here...

Of note is that users' preferences might not always correlate to the best settings as determined by other diagnosis. In a study of text customisation for people with dyslexia, Rello and Baeza-Yates 2012 found no positive correlation between participants' color preferences and reading performance as measured by eye-tracking recording fixation duration. [@@ "Text should be printed with the highest possible contrast. There is good evidence that for many readers who are older or partially sighted, light (white or light yellow) letters on a dark (black) background are more readable than dark letters on a light background. However, the traditional dark on light may be aesthetically preferable." (Arditi, Aries. (1999) Making Text Legible - Designing for People with Partial Sight ]

Automated Text Customisation

[doesn't see to flow well here. maybe it will fit better under Moving Forward?]

Beyond this, text customisation could become automated to at least some extent. Access For All 3.0...and GPII...[tighten up with refs] describe a future scenario whereby an individual's accessibility needs - including text customisation needs - are stored in a portable profile, that can be applied to a digital resource which adapts itself accordingly in line with the needs expressed in the profile.

However, in the short-term, web content authors who wish to ensure that their content is as accessible as possible to the widest number of their target audience are faced with the challenge of deciding whether or not to attempt to bridge this gap in text customisation awareness and support, and, if so, what to do.

Supporting Text Customization Today

[@@DS - short piece on paradox of customisation widgets not being visible to those who need them most?]

Smith (2010) WebAIM - Web Accessibility preferences are for sissies argues that web authors should focus on authoring accessible content, and that attempting to go beyond this to provide customisation features in web content can lead to reduced usability.

Others have argued that the limitation of this approach is that for people who could benefit from customisation, but are not aware of their own needs, the visibility of customisation as a possible solution is lost. Sloan et al (2006) Evaluating the Usability of Online Accessibility Information describe a study where a group of older web users were asked to find accessibility information provided on a sample of sites from organisations in the Financial, Governmental, Education, Commerce and Disability Advocacy sectors; plus a set of sites chosen as exemplars of good accessibility practice. The researchers found that there was a low awareness amongst participants of text customisation, and that participants perceived accessibility information provided by sites as frequently hard to find, excessively technical and unhelpful.

Some authors and organisations have focused on providing educational resources intended to raise awareness of text customisation amongst users who could benefit from customisation:

[@@ fyi, some notes on this.]


Moving forward

[@@ review note - we have a lot to say here that's not here yet :-]

  • How might we increase awareness of the need for text customization, and the benefits?
  • What text customization functionality should be included in products in order to meet users' needs?
  • How can we improve discoverability and usability of text customization features in products?
  • How should text customization requirements be better addressed in accessibility guidelines, web standards, and other best practice guides?
  • What areas of research show promise to inform and evolve text customization for readability?

[@@DS - something on the impact on text customisation needs of changing monitor technology - resolutions, electronic paper etc]


  • Translating knowledge of users' customisation needs into policies, standards, user agents. Submissions did not cover this issue in any great detail, but if there are gaps in support that could be addressed by revising guidelines, standards, policies covering content authoring and user agents, we should identify them here
  • this work could also take into account evidence supporting the need to rebalance efforts between user agent support for and usability of customisation features, and user effort in creating and maintaining user CSS.
  • Supporting discoverability of customisation vs education on the existence of customisation as a user option (and helping users diagnose their needs)
  • Specific research projects that are ongoing:
    • research presented in symposium submissions
    • other research currently underway that could inform knowledge in this area
  • Research that has not been done but needs to be done





Many user agents (i.e., the tools that people use to interact with electronic information, such as web browsers) do not sufficiently meet the needs of these users. They do not provide adequate text customisation that is necessary for some people to be able to read, understand, and interact with information.

While electronic media provides an opportunity to increase readability for large groups of people who have difficulty reading and processing text, this opportunity remains unrealized in several areas. Additional research, guidance, and education is needed to encourage user agent developers to provide the text customisation functionality required by people with conditions that impact reading. <from>




Symposium Proceedings

proceedings with BiBTex (example format)


Participants of the W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG) involved in the development of this document include: Simon Harper (Co-Chair), Shadi Abou-Zahra (W3C WAI Staff Contact), @@....

RDWG would also like to thank:

  • Chairs and Scientific Committee members
    • Shawn Henry (W3C/WAI), Co-Chair
    • David Sloan (University of Dundee), Co-Chair
    • Shadi Abou-Zahra (W3C/WAI)
    • Vivienne L. Conway (Edith Cowan University)
    • Robyn Hunt (AccEase)
    • Caroline Jarrett (Design to Read and Effortmark Limited)
    • Clayton Lewis (University of Colorado)
    • Kerstin Matausch (KI-I)
    • Klaus Miesenberger (Johannes Kepler Universität)
    • Christopher D. Nicholas (Language Technologies, Inc.)
    • Birgit Peböck (KI-I)
    • Luz Rello (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
    • John Richards (IBM T.J. Watson Research Center and University of Dundee)
  • Paper authors
    • Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Yahoo! Research & Universitat Pompeu Fabra
    • Wayne E. Dick, Ph.D. Knowbility, Inc.
    • Olaf Drümmer, callas software GmbH
    • Shawn Lawton Henry, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
    • Luz Rello, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
    • Eileen Rivera Ley, MBA. Ley & Associates, LLC
    • Anthony Lee
    • Vasile Topac, Politehnica University of Timisoara
  • Additional contributors via e-mail:

This document was developed with support from the WAI-ACT Project.

NOTE: This is a rough, in-progress draft.

Internal Notes

For RDWG review & comment on 19 Dec:

  • NOTE: This is a very rough, in-progress draft. Some sections are not drafted, there is some redundancy, we expect things to move around some, we will pull additional input from the transcript, we haven't worked on transitions yet, etc. (Do not bother with wordsmithing-level comments.)
  • General structure of the document?
  • Any topics missing?
  • Any points that people took away from the Symposium that are not covered?
  • Ideas for making it a useful report?

Goals - Note some of the specific goals we're defined:

  • Bring light on the issue - raise awareness
  • Make clear that text customization is not just nice to have, but REQUIREMENT for many people
  • Encourage more work in this area
  • ...

Style Guide

  • [@@open] Research Note (capitalized) or research note (lower case) -- as in "This Research Notes addresses..."

[Reference formats]

[@@open] e-mail format:
Doe, J,, 2012. [TC4R Symposium] Subject. [E-mail] Message to RDWG Comments ( Sent 00 November 2012. Available at: [Accessed 12 December 12].



Other Symposium Reports:

[More TC4R Report Notes and Archive of previous draft info]