"Easy to Read on the Web" emphasizes usability on the Web for the biggest possible user group including people with cognitive disabilities. It puts the emphasis on the design of Web content and in particular the text, which includes wording, syntax, and language level used. The goal is to support readability, understandability and memorability for people with cognitive disabilities and other user groups facing problems with the wording as well as the design of information in an increasing globalized context. "Easy to Read on the Web" is moreover all about information architecture, layout, navigation, structure, options for user interaction at a language level that can be easily followed. This includes aspects of legibility and technical accessibility in terms of being able to reach and get hold of the information.

Plain Language [17] is a concept and area addressing these aspects in a more mainstream oriented Web usability context. Both, Easy to Read as well as Plain language are concepts underline the importance of language use and thereby emphasize recommendations and guidelines contributing to an increased general usability. The more ICT becomes part of everyday lives the bigger the impact of usability will be. Therefore we can find evidence that Plain Language and Easy to Read significantly contribute to usability in general and impact on users much beyond the groups outlined above.

For those depending on Easy to Read or Plain Language, international studies outline that in most countries one out of four adults does not reach the level of literacy or reading skill expected after nine years of formal education. In several countries, this figure is as high as 40-50 percent.

Even more, globalization in many aspects demands for information that is usable and readable cross borders and cultures as well as understood by the biggest possible user group. Political initiatives and according legislation aiming at fostering the equal participation of people with disabilities and the aging population and beyond are other drivers for increased accessibility and usability and in particular for better readability for all user groups. "Easy-to-Read on the Web" matches with this demand and expands it towards the requirements for people with cognitive disabilities and other user groups experiencing problems with the language in use and information presentation on the Web in a globalised context underlined by the UN-Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and a growing number of international and national legislation.

Concepts in use and under discussion to address this issue are

The "Easy to Read on the Web" symposium invited to present new R&D work related to these and other new aspects of Easy to Read aiming at

  1. Outlining needs and requirements of different user groups
  2. Improving recommendations, guidelines and tools for web accessibility
  3. Contributing to improvement of assistive tools and services for people with cognitive disabilities and other user groups.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The Research and Development Working Group of W3C/WAI organised an online symposium, on December 3 2012 on the topic "Easy to Read on the Web". This document reports on this symposium lasting for about four hours and outlines the main findings from the papers presented and the follow up discussions.

The Web plays a unique role as a central means and tool for global access and use of information and services and its “universality and access by everyone regardless of a disability has been an important aspect of the Web since its beginning”. (Tim Berners-Lee, Director World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)). The Web is both an important driver for globalization as well as its tool and its accessibility becomes therefore a basic human right in the global information or knowledge society.

There are many reasons to seriously address readability and understandability on the Web in this context. Globalization in many aspects demands for information that is usable and readable cross borders and cultures as well as understood by the biggest possible user group. Any intercultural cooperation and exchange asks for easy to read information regardless of high level language skills. International studies outline that in most countries one out of four adults does not reach the level of literacy or reading skill expected after nine years of formal education. In several countries, this figure is as high as 40-50 percent [3] – see also section 5, Related Reading on adult literacy. Also exploiting the full potential of global markets asks for enhanced usability to reach all potential clients. Independent and self-determined use of Web based systems and services are seen as a key factor for economic success and efficient social services.

Easy to Read on the Web matches with these demands and expands it towards the requirements for people with cognitive disabilities and other user groups experiencing problems with the language in use and information presentation on the Web in a globalised context.

Therefore equal access to information and participation in the information society has become a political issue and a question of democracy and Easy to Read has to be seen as an integral part of it. It demands for political initiatives and legislation aiming at fostering the equal participation of people with disabilities, the aging population, people with migration background and other groups. The UN-Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities [2] and a growing number of international and national legislation underline that access to information in Plain Language or Easy to Read Language is a matter of democracy and inclusion. [17] These are key drivers for increased accessibility and usability.

Accessibility of information, systems and services in a globalised context addresses a broad socpe of users. The main target groups benefiting from the implementation of Plain Language or Easy to Read on the Web could be listed as:

Progress has been made over the last decades in terms of recommendations, guidelines, methods and tools to make the Web better accessible for diverse stakeholder groups including people with disabilities. In the domain of eInclusion and eParticipation of people with disabilities the focus thereby has been put on accessibility in a more technical sense allowing people adapting the display and interaction on standard devices or by applying Assistive Technology. The aspect of the quality of the content in terms of its readability, understandability, memorability and usability seemed to be postponed due to the more fundamental and pressing questions of providing access in a more physical or technical sense. webAIM outlines in their studies on research and development activities in the accessibility domain that there has been little research in the field of information technology and people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities at all [7].

Looms [8] and the OECD [41] underlines this prioritization of technical aspects of accessibility when presenting a hierarchical structure of domains in his "inclusion pyramid of digital media" amongst

  1. Availability
  2. Accessibility
  3. Usability
  4. Digital literacy

Although all have to be addressed to reach accessibility and usability in a holistic and not only technical sense, availability and accessibility, what matches with the mentioned aspect of access in a more technical sense of getting hold of the information, is prior, as the later can only be based on them. Following this the mainstream term and concept of usability [9], [see also section 5 "Related Reading" on Introductory Concepts of Usability Including Readability] includes and puts emphasis on aspects like:

what goes beyond technical access to content and questions if users can reach their goals in an easy and appropriate manner. It is evident, that the focus on usability followed the basic attempts to provide access in a more technical sense but also asks for addressing the following levels for all potential user groups.

Although accessibility is only one item building up the inclusion pyramid and one might interpret it as separated from usability and other aspects, W3C/WAI did understand accessibility in this much broader sense of Web usability from the very beginning. With the term and concept of “usable accessibility” [10] a clear focus is put on these aspects, going beyond the technical access of content and interface. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) demand for making content and Web pages understandable as the third of four principles - further detailed in guidelines and techniques for making content readable and understandable. [11]

W3C/WAI enforces the efforts in elaborating these aspects of accessibility in the broadest sense possible and intends to better address the needs of the target groups outlined. With the symposium on Easy to Read on the Web the work on recommendations, guidelines, techniques and tools should be pushed forward by analyzing how far the W3C/WAI structures and materials are able to cover the needs and interests of these target groups in the state of the art and by finding ways to improve them. The symposium asked for research and development to raise awareness and increase the level of accessibility in practice. The Easy to Read on the Web symposium focused on sharing research-based experiences, including examples, tools, concepts, and ideas, on how to make information on the Web easier - to be understood by a diverse audience. The symposium explored the user needs and state of the art in research, development, and practice to contribute to a common understanding of Easy to Read on the Web. It encourages the development of better guidance, support, and tools for developers, designers, and users, and aims at providing information to researchers, standards developers and policy makers on how to better address Plain language and Easy to Read on the Web. In particular it analyzed how to better connect, elaborate, and integrate the user needs in the existing Web accessibility guidelines and techniques.

The main objectives of the Easy to Read on the Web symposium therefore were to:

Beyond these core objectives the symposium asked for contributions addressing questions like tool support, research and development in linguistics, language technologies, and natural language processing as well as concepts and models for implementation of Plain language and Easy to Read in practice.

2. Background and related work

Information that can be reached and is understood by the majority of users is an essential aspect of accessibility for people with disabilities and for a globalised Web in general. This domain is commonly referred to as "Plain Language" and "Easy to Read". Analyzing the state of the art in research, development and service practice in particular for people with cognitive disabilities let us outline the following clusters for structuring the background and ongoing activities:

2.1 Rules, guidelines, and recommendations for authoring text

Considerable work has been done to provide rules, guidelines and recommendations on how to best address Easy to Read for people with cognitive disabilities and some first approaches, tools, and heuristics emerged. [12] This includes the development of different guidelines, rules, and recommendations such as those included in WCAG 2.0 [13] or others as the guidelines from Inclusion Europe [14] and IFLA [15]. Due to the availability of appropriate end user devices, multimedia elements are more and more implemented to enrich the quality and understandability of texts for both, Easy to Read as well as Plain language. Guidelines for including multimedia elements to enrich usability and user experience were considerably improved due to the growing importance of the Web [16].)

However, more research is needed to understand the users´ accessibility needs as well as the needs of content authors in their everyday practice. Furthermore, to analyze the different approaches and possibilities of harmonisation, and to propose a way forward in providing better techniques and tools for such services is a key issue in this domain.

Other research areas which are not primarily disability based, share similar goals or include complementary development efforts. For example, research in Web usability contributed considerably to the concept of Plain Language [17] and the development of different methods and tools to measure readability like Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning Fog Index, Wiener Sachtextformel, Simple Measure Of Gobbledygook (SMOG), Gunning fog index (FOG) [18]. This domains also provide a wide spectrum of guidelines and methods to make the Web easier to use, such as design guidelines for homepage usability [19] and international user interfaces [20]. Text normalization is another approach showing considerable potential in supporting Easy to Read on the Web [21].

All this asks for investigations regarding overlap of general Web usability with the needs of users with cognitive disabilities and other target groups outlined above.

2.2 Tools for Easy to Read and to support the Workflow, process and services for Easy to Read implementation

Large scale implementation of Plain Language or Easy to Read on the Web asks for efficient tools supporting developers, designers and content providers. Such tools should as much as possible seamlessly integrate into every day working or development environments. We need tools that are based on an elaborated and stable set of recommendations, rules, guidelines, and standards. Such tools can possibly make use of work originating from domains as linguistics and language technologies, including Natural Language Processing (NLP).

These domains have made significant progress in grammar and style-checking (sometimes called Controlled Language) [22], translation [23], annotation and enhancement [24] and summarizing [25; 26]. Compelling research and sophisticated tools have been developed to support content authors and users [27], and there is apparent mutual benefit of further investigating the deployment of these tools in the domain of Plain Language and Easy to Read.

Another field that could support E2R is the area of technical writing (user manuals etc.) They have strict language rules and one of their goals is to produce texts that are suitable for automated translations (i.e. texts that are simple because there is no figurative language and no ambiguities).

2.2.1 Enriching content with alternative expressions, images and multimedia

Plain language and Easy to Read on the Web addressed first the design and use of text but also goes beyond making use of alternative ways of information representation. Research and development in Augmentative and Alternative Communication [28] provides a related set of resources on user requirements, guidelines, methods, techniques and tools for accessing information and the use of language in written or audio format, including the use of symbol systems and symbolic languages [29; 30]. As discussed here this also includes approaches to include other domains like Natural Language Processing [31]. This domain first of all origins from research and development for people with speech disabilities [32] but has a strong relation to the target groups addressed by Easy to Read on the Web as speech disabilities often might be caused by cognitive disabilities or a complex set of physical and cognitive disabilities with a strong impact on language learning, understanding and usage. Due to this research, experiences, and tools from this domain might be beneficial for the wider audience of Easy to Read and Plain Language.

2.2.2 Text-audio integration

When discussing Easy to Read on the Web one might first of all think about written text as the source causing accessibility problems to people with cognitive disabilities. For certain users switching from written format to audio might considerably increase accessibility [33].

Access to written information for blind and partially sighted people as well as people with other print disabilities due to cognitive disabilities or low language skillssuch as dyslexia significantly progressed over the last years. The possibility to switch to audio or the parallel use of both formats – written and audio – and the features to adapt both kinds of display also might considerably contribute to Easy to Read on the Web for several of the mentioned target groups [34]. Assistive Technologies for blind and partially sighted people (e.g. screenreader, speech output, screen enlargement, audio description) but also systems and services of making information accessible like e.g. Digital Accessible Information System – DAISY [35], Polygraf [36], or Hybrid Books [37] might contribute to Easy to Read on the Web by accommodating the display of text.

2.2.3 Captioning

Captioning is first of all used as a translation service for people not speaking the language used for an audio or video source, but also for hearing impaired and deaf people as well as for blind and visually impaired people. Such techniques and services show potential to provide descriptive services in Easy to Read. A body of knowledge has been brought forward which are a valuable input for how to design captions and/or dynamic text that they can be read and understood by the target audience addressed here. This includes recommendations and guidelines regarding length, display, structuring, … [38; see also section 5 "Related Reading" on "Subtitling" and "Audio description"]

2.2.4 Designing layout to meet user requirements

A related symposium addresses the specific topic of Text Customization for Readability [18]. The Easy to Read on the Web Symposium was planned in close connection with this Symposium to avoid overlap and facilitate exchange.

2.3 Plain language and Easy to Read - Demanding from mainstream or specialized individual service

Still, besides a growing awareness to orient text and content on the Web towards better usability often based on the concept of Plain Language, Easy to Read on the Web is first of all driven by day to day practice of translating information (on demand). Easy to Read is often understood as a specialized service asking for translation into the language space of very specific user groups or even individuals. It is based on the involvement and co-development with representatives of a user group. Although Easy to Read guidelines are often addressed as a requirement towards mainstream, the proposed workflow and demand for user involvement seems to ask in many cases for individualized translations due to the specific needs of user groups ?]. Due to this diverse set of user requirements there is a broad variety of approaches to Easy to Read ranging from

This asks for research on data and evidence as well as agreement and definition what to expect and demand from whom in the distributed Web development and usage chain.

3. Current Research

The papers presented at the Easy to Read on the Web symposium addressed a broad range of aspects which have been grouped along three domains:

  1. Easy to Read guidelines and how to integrate them into WCAG 2.0
  2. Tools to support Easy to Read
  3. Workflow, process and services for the implementation of Easy to Read

3.1 Easy to Read guidelines and the impact on WCAG

The implementation of Easy to Read on the Web crucially asks for in-depth research and verification or modification of – so far mostly heuristic determined – criteria. Easy to Read criteria were created for print materials and partially need to be adapted so that Easy to Read can be successfully and accessibly implemented on the Web.

The following papers relate to Easy to Read guidelines and examine the impact on WCAG. They also investigate and describe relevant aspects of defining Easy to Read criteria for Web applications. The findings of these papers highly correlate with other aspects of the provision of Easy to Read and easy-to-use materials on the Web as well as an easy-to-implement tool / workflow support of Web designers and developers.

Paper 1: Easy to Read and Plain Language: Defining Criteria and Refining Rules

The paper “Easy to Read and Plain Language: Defining Criteria and Refining Rules” investigates the significance of selected Easy to Read criteria due to a comparison among an Easy to Read and a plain language document. The paper contributes to a general definition of Easy to Read guidelines on the Web with the second goal to provide the findings as the basis for the development of tools.

Paper 2: Some Challenges for developing an Easy to Read Website

The Paper “Some Challenges for developing an Easy to Read Website” concentrates on the various Easy to Read related needs of target groups on the Web. The paper presents the findings of a Finnish study that analyzed the needs of different target groups as well as the challenges in formulating design principles that meet a broad scope of user needs.

Paper 3: Guidelines or Standards for Easy to Read?

The Paper “Guidelines or Standards for Easy to Read” highlights the relevance of both a user group orientation and text genres for a definition of Easy to Read criteria. Various text genres ask for an implementation of Easy to Read criteria in different ways.

3.2 Tools for Easy to Read

One key aspect in terms of impact of Easy to Read on Web Accessibility is the availability of tools which efficiently support day to day Web practice. Two domains are outlined where tools are needed for supported or even automated implementation of Easy to Read:

  1. For mainstream developers, designers and other stakeholders to implement Easy to Read
  2. For specialists addressing the needs of target groups like people with cognitive disabilities or people with migration backgound in terms of translation in specific language or cultural spaces

The following papers outline important aspects of such tools and what concepts are addressed in R & D. A particular focus has been given to what extend WCAG and other guidelines and techniques as well as tools have to rely on well defined, as much as possible measurable guidelines and success criteria.

Paper 1: Bridging the Gap between Pictographs and Natural Language

This paper outlines a system for pictograph communication and how a corpus of words for translation in pictographs has been developed allowing an easier and better translation. This paper relates the domain of Easy to Read to symbol usage.

Paper 2: Reporting Simply: A Lexical Simplification Strategy for Enhancing Text Accessibility

This paper discusses automated text simplification and discusses how to apply such methodologies for Easy to Read on the Web. Based on examples out of domains like international news and culture it underlines the limits of rule-based lexical approaches.

Paper 3: Improving the Readability of User-generated Content in Web Games Using Text Normalisation

This paper presents the TENOR system supporting readers with cognitive disabilities in accessing user generated content on the Web by searching and providing alternatives for words.

Paper 4: Easy to Read text characteristics across genres

This paper proposes to include text characterization across different genres for improving the level of readability and usability and to reach Easy to Read.

Paper 5: Calculating text complexity during the authoring phase

This paper presents the tool SPARTA2 which is an authoring support tool providing a numeric estimation of the complexity of texts and warnings/advices about phrase structures. It uses well established indices and uses a sound approach to integrate it into different authoring experiences (plug-in). This tool provides a very practical approach to address the text complexity aspect of Easy to Read.

Paper 6: Evaluation of Terminology Labeling Impact over Readability

This paper presents important findings from Natural Language Processing (NLP) for the purpose of Easy to Read. It highlights the need to balance between formulating text in a way that would lose meaning or perceived authority versus being more widely understood. It uses the medical domain as an example for simplifying its terminology. The concept lets the reader estimate to be applicable to many other domains and situations.

Paper 7: MIA - My Internet Assistant for successfully reading and using Web content

This paper tackles two important aspect of Easy to Read, namely that the requirements tend to be highly individual and that comprehension is not only based on the text but also on the layout and instructions provided. The paper introduces the tool MIA that acts as an agent to provide personalized guidance depending on the actual needs of the user, and analyzes the benefits of this tool.

3.3 Workflow, Process and Services for e2r

Paper 1: "Accessibility 2.0"

Michael Schaten provided a contribution on a PhD theses dealing with a social Web application that was or better is designed together with people with cognitive disabilities already in the very beginning of the software development process. Additionally, a community built up during this activity will compose explanations or easier to understand alternatives on "complex words, terms and phrases" to overcome "traditional" barriers for this target group using Web 2.0 applications to a glossary service.

Paper 2: "Including E2R, Legibility and Readability into Web engineering"

Klaus Miesenberger presented a paper on where he discussed together with his co-authors the feasibility and a possible structure to include "Plain Language or Easy to Read" into the process and workflow of Web engineering combining the inherent workflow used for Plain Language and Easy to Read to the meta-workflow of authoring and designing for the Web in general.

Paper 3: "Social networking Service for People with Cognitive or Speech and Language Impairments"

back to social Web applications, our third panelist, Timo Övermark presents findings concerning mainstream social networking services, their obstacles and possibilities to overcome them – building up on a project from finnish FAIDD and Papunet network service unit with the goal to create an easy-to use social networking service for people with IDD (intellectual and developmental disability) as well as SLI (specific language impairment).

Paper 4: "Reading Adaptations for People with Cognitive Disabilities: Opportunities"

Our last panelist, Clayton Lewis, aimed in his contribution together with his co-author to bring to our symposium a number of opportunities for research that may lead to ways to adapt textual content to make it easier to read for the target group.

4. Emerging Themes and Conclusions

More research is needed to better understand the needs of the users, to analyze and compare the different approaches, to come to a common understanding and definition of the different levels and aspects of Easy to Read, to better understand the responsibilities and tasks of stakeholders in Easy to Read provision chain and to propose a way forward in providing more comprehensive access to information on the Web. Based on this research and development will become better targeted in providing recommendations, guideline, techniques and tools for Easy to Read on the Web.

The state of the art studies, the papers presented and the discussion during the symposium outlined the following themes to be put on the agenda for a roadmap to push the Easy to Read on the Web forward.

4.1 Awareness for Easy to Read on the Web

All contributions and many comments in the discussion shared the understanding that there is a strong need for increased awareness for Easy to Read both in terms of general understandability and usability of content and specialized and individualized adaptation (translation into Easy to Read) for specific user groups. Benefits for users, service providers, business and society have to be quantified and need more attention to come up with more compelling arguments for the importance of Easy to Read on the Web. Even inside the domain of Web accessibility, as outlined in the introduction, Easy to Read on the Web is often seen secondary to more technical questions of accessibility. In particular it is underlined that WCAG 2.0 needs to strengthen theses aspects in terms of going beyond general recommendations towards measurable criteria and tool support. Some aspects of Easy to Read are already covered in WCAG 2.0. There are even some Techniques. But only at Level AAA, which is rarely used as target conformance level.

4.2 Handling Different User Needs

More information is needed regarding the diverse needs related to Easy to Read of different end user groups but also of other stakeholder groups as authors, designers, developers and service providers. This should allow an appropriate and targeted discussion of the domain, suitable definitions and compelling comparisons, improvements or development of Easy to Read recommendation, guidelines, techniques and tools. As outlined above the needs of end users and stakeholders might vary considerably and lead to diverse and even contradicting requirements and research and development necessities.

4.3 Workflow of Easy to Read on the Web: Responsibilities of mainstream and specialized services

The work presented and the analysis of the state of the art clearly outlined that Easy to Read on the Web often meets with confusion to what extent

  1. mainstream is in charge of providing Easy to Read content at what level (e.g. Plain Language) to meet accessibility requirements or
  2. specialized services have to be provided to meet with often individual skills and requirements of users with cognitive disabilities.

It became obvious that there is not a sole definition of Easy to Read and that Easy to Read is often more a process of translation of content into the language space of individual users than a defined level of language use.

How likely is the implementation of Easy to Read in everyday Web Design processes and what can we expect from mainstream? The symposium suggests to strengthen research on how to come to a separation between mainstream requirements and specialised services to allow a better definition of requirements addressed towards mainstream without neglecting individual requirements addressed and answered by specialised individual services. There is agreement that the complexity of Easy to Read and in particular the orientation towards individualization of translations in many aspects goes beyond what can be expected from mainstream. This should be reflected in guidelines and techniques like WCAG 2.0 which might refer to, include or develop concepts like Plain Language to maximise understandability and usability for all users and point to the need of such individualised services.

Research is needed to better understand what can be expected from mainstream in terms of implementing Easy to Read and how to improve awareness and skills. Having in mind that even basic accessibility features (e.g. alternative text for graphical content) that are introduced and mainstreamed for years but nevertheless implemented only to a very small extent in mainstream Web pages - can we expect mainstream to implement Easy to Read?

4.4 Easy to Read guidelines and WAI

The above issue of clarification and definition of the responsibilities for Easy to Read demands at a more basic level for research on how to make WCAG 2.0 and other WAI materials more concisely related to Easy to Read. This should start from analyses of the coverage of Easy to Read in existing Web accessibility recommendations, guidelines and standards. As outlined accessibility by nature has had a focus on more technical question of accessing the information. The gained set of recommendations, guidelines and techniques should be analyzed how to better address accessibility of content, text and display including questions like

A clear focus should be given to user centered development of guidelines and research would be beneficial providing experiences with texts written by people with cognitive disabilities.

4.5 Tools for implementing Easy to Read on the Web

Both domains, more general guidelines like Plain Language and more specialized guidelines and services related to Easy to Read, ask for intensive research and development of tools efficiently supporting practice. This ranges from automatic or supported

Working on a shared and re-usable open source framework for creating such a set of tools is seen as a viable way towards a more efficient implementation and support of Easy to Read in practice. Based on in-depth research on related domains mentioned above, ideas and concepts should be brought to prototype level of Easy to Read tools allowing user evaluation and later on product development.

Such development activities might start, as mentioned, with research on available Assistive Technology and how it might be adapted and used for better and more independent access for people with cognitive disabilities. This relates to employing tools originating from accessibility for other target groups like TTS, screen readers, screen adaptations or AAC. This relates to issues on how existing functionalities of the OS or browsers might support users with cognitive disabilities which are not found or understood in the way they are presented and used today. Background research on AT might enrich research and development of tools and functionalities providing support to users with cognitive disabilities as listed above. Domains like linguistics and NLP might allow to come up with viable solutions for efficient support of Easy to Read in practice for different stakeholders.

Furthermore, workflow tools should provide guidance on how to implement Easy to Read to better reach the goal of an accessible and usable Web experience. This should include the above listed functionalities as soon as they are available integrated in a guided step by step approach. Due to the diversity of issues addressed it has been outlined that the set of already available recommendations, guidelines, techniques and tools, but also future developments should integrate into a one stop user experience or an “Easy to Read Suite” providing efficient guidance and support for users, evaluators, designers, developers, content providers, Easy to Read service and support providers and any other stakeholders. This should be accompanied by a collection of examples and templates raising understanding but also allowing people to follow.

4.6 Workflows for Practice

Related to the question of responsibilities in Easy to Read implementation (theme 4) the symposium brought forward the question: Is it possible as well as reasonable to simplify texts or information by just implementing standard rules and guidelines (e.g. European Standard on Easy to Read information) to be used and understood by every possible user (“Design for All”) or is successful information provision a matter of custom-fitting for specific target groups and standards might only consist of standardised workflows including extensive user testing?

Both for specialised translation or adaptation services but also for integrating Easy to Read in standard Web content development understanding and support of the workflow is essential to respect the manifold requirements including Easy to Read. Research questions related to the workflow of Easy to Read implementation are:

4.7 Education and Getting Used to the Web

The Web as the multi-media platform provides a broad range of new possibilities of interaction, communication and accessing content and services. In the process of increasing the level of accessibility, research is needed on how new or adapted educational and support programmes might allow users with cognitive disabilities to better and more independently access the Web. More users might be able to access the Web more independently, in particular when general readability requirements (“Plain Language”) are taken into account and AT and specific reading tools are at hand. The impact of training and frequent use of Web resources by users with cognitive disabilities might have a considerable impact on the level of accessibility.

In the same way readability has to be analyzed regarding the establishment of “quasi standards” due to the success and popularity of Web pages and underlying interaction and design schemes. The "normative power of the factual", which many other Web designers and developers follow, might tend to support Easy to Read and easy-to-use as also users with cognitive disabilities learn and get to know these concepts.

In addition AT education as well as education or help in exploiting the potential of users setting for better readability should be addressed as a first step towards better accessibility.

Finally the implementation of any Easy to Read standard and tools asks for education supported by working examples of information that is designed to be easier to read, easy to use, especially in Web applications such as social media, online shops, and blogs.

4.8 Transferability and Internationalization of Easy to Read Standards and Techniques”

The Web is a global instrument and therefore readability and Easy to Read have to be addressed accordingly. Besides the transferability between a broad range of different requirements of people with cognitive disabilities, research should also address if and how far common recommendations, guidelines, standards and tools like those provided by W3C/WAI can meet with requirements, which are related to regional, national and language/linguistics specific aspects. Is an international approach to Plain Language and Easy to Read possible? On one hand this would allow exchange of materials and experiences, on the other hand national language specificities and living environments (influencing easy to understand and use everyday language) might easily interfere with or endanger this exchange and co-operation. To what extent are readability and Easy to Read based on and adaptable to individual linguistic needs as well as on cultural contexts, application domains and text genres?

Research should allow comparing national and transnational Easy to Read recommendations, guidelines and standards for different languages and analyze the potential of transfer and international standardization. Based on this aspect, Easy to Read could be subject to harmonization of a set of language-independent guidelines.

The same way, tool development at a global level has to reflect such regional and linguistic specifics and diverse application contexts to address its transferability. Analysis of language contexts and transferability of guidelines cross-language, cross-culture, cross-application contexts is needed.

4.9 Design and Easy to Read

Any use of Easy to Read is embedded into a holistic Web experience. Aspects and components of usable Web design such as language use, design, layout, navigation, use of icons, information architecture and their relation to Easy to Read have to be discussed. Therefore Easy to Read has to be analyzed to what extent it is linked with the basic layout and the used / implemented navigation elements / navigation possibilities of a website. What interaction/navigation elements are crucial and what layouts are most profitable and might be a good starting point for additional evaluations? This question is partially covered by research discussed in the Text Customization symposium [1] as the question if and when, to what extent elaborated accessibility rules and guidelines (e.g. no fixed fonts and font sizes) support or interfere with the requirements of groups using Easy to Read. Further research has to explore both Easy to Read Web design guidelines in detail as well as techniques to easily apply them to Web design processes.

5 Related Reading

5.1 Studies on adult literacy:

5.2 Introductory concepts of usability including readability:

5.3 Subtitling:

5.4 Audio description:

6. References

  1. http://www.w3.org/WAI/RD/2012/text-customization, online January 2013
  2. http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=259, online January 2013
  3. International Adult Literacy Surveys (IALS), 1998
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n2. Symposium Proceedings

Research Report on [TITLE]

This document should be cited as follows:


Contributed Extended Abstract Papers

The links provided in this section, including those in the BibTex files, are permanent; see also the W3C URI Persistence Policy.


n+3. Acknowledgements

Participants of the W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG) involved in the development of this document include: [Alphabetical List of Contributors]

RDWG would also like to thank the chairs and scientific committee members as well as the paper authors of the RDWG online symposium on Website Accessibility Metrics.