Gap Analysis/Introduction

From Cognitive Accessibility Task Force

Note: This page is out of date. This page has been ported to the github version. If you have edits for this page please send them to the list or to Michael and Lisa.


A gap analysis identifies the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. This document is a gap analysis of the state of accessibility for People with learning disabilities and cognitive disabilities when using the Web and information technologies. We aim to identify and describe the current situation and contrast it to what we want to happen. This document is not a specification (non-normative). It will be used as a base document to suggest techniques and create a roadmap for improving accessibility for people with learning disabilities and cognitive disabilities.

This document is divided into sections. This introduction is the first section. The second section analyses the current situation, in terms of user groups, technologies and existing standards. Subsequent sections will identify gaps and potentials and make suggestions for techniques and for the roadmap.


There is a huge number of cognitive disabilities and variations of them. If we attempt an analysis of all the possibilities, the job will be too big and nothing will be achieved. Therefore we are adopting a phased approach, selecting in phase one a limited scope of eight diverse disabilities, and hope to achieve something useful within that scope. Also note that helping users improve skills, and emotional disabilities, are out of scope for phase one. We anticipate this analysis will continue to a second or third phase where more user groups are analyzed and the existing analyses are updated with new research and with new technologies and scenarios.

Methodology in User Research

In making user scenarios and user group research we are taking a multilevel approach.

A. Asking the users

  1. What do they have trouble with?
  2. What tasks do they need help with?
  3. What tasks they avoid
  4. What tasks often lead to mistakes

B. Addressing specific topics

In the user group research section of the gap analysis, we aim to identify abstract principles for accessibility for people with cognitive and learning disabilities, and core challenges for each user group as well as practical techniques.

However, when trying to identify abstract principles, it is often helpful to look at concrete user scenarios and challenges that different user groups face. For that purpose we have identified the practical and diverse user scenarios that should be considered in user group research. These include:

Communication Making sure users can communicate with people and be part of society. Tasks to investigate:

  1. Use email and chat effectively
  2. Being aware of a change
  3. Share pictures and information
  4. Play
  5. Request information


  1. Apps to enable work such as document authoring
  2. Critical DHTML content and applications such as: enroll and manage healthcare, make an appointment, enroll and manage banking, shop online

sign-up / register and manage account profile on a site, book and manage travel

  1. Enroll in and participate in online education
  2. Apps such as mobile apps
  3. Directions / locations

ICT systems

  1. Use the Web of Things applications such as temperature control, entertainment systems
  2. Phone menu systems
  3. Other menu systems

Research and Education

  1. Understand content and learning material
  2. Search, research, and find information
  3. Enroll in and participate in online education

Access to critical information

  1. Read and share news
  2. Find weather alerts
  3. Find and read emergency information
  4. Find out rites and social service information

C. We also have the following cross cutting concerns

Using content should be:

  1. Safe
  2. Effective
  3. Minimal frustration


This document is created by The Cognitive Accessibility Task Force (Cognitive A11Y TF)of the PFWG and the WCAG WG of the W3C.

Initial Editor(s) Lisa Seeman and …

Significant Contributors: User group research modules:

  1. Prof Kinshuk and Joseph O Conner: Non Verbal
  2. Lisa Seeman with Cynthia Shelly: Dyslexia
  3. Barry Johnson and Katherine Mancuso: ADD / ADHD
  4. Debra Ruh: Down Syndrome
  5. Deborah Dahl, Avi Gloden: Asphasia
  6. Katie, Elle Waters and Mary Jo : Aging and dementia
  7. John Rochford, Neil Milliken: Autism
  8. Neil Milliken: Dyscalculia.

Volunteer research groups: John Rochford

Classification of cognitive function: Jim Allen