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Cognitive Accessibility Design Pattern: Provide Human Help

User Need

I need to know how to get human help and can manage the process easily.

What to Do

Many people rely on human help. When possible, there is human help available, and it is easy to use. This includes:

  • Easy to find on each page and at each step of a process.
  • Easy to use via the mechanism the user prefers.
  • Requires as few steps as possible, such as:
    • a form with two fields,
    • an email address, or
    • a phone number that goes directly to a human.

Access to human help should never require the user to manage complex menu systems such as a voice menu with many different options.

Organizations mechanisms should be in place to ensure support staff effectively help people with learning and cognitive disabilities and provide a good experience.

How it Helps

When a user gets stuck or confused for any reason, getting help from a human is usually the most effective solution. In reality many sites provide this option only to users who can navigate complex systems.

Examples of complex system include a process where a user needs to follow many links to get to the human contact information. It could also be a phone number requiring the user to answer many questions before connecting with a person. With a complex system, the people who need it most will not have access to the human help option. They may the user may have cognitive overload and stop trying to complete the process. They may also leave with a negative attitude towards the service or supplier.

For example, a user with an intellectual disability wants to use a coupon. They cannot find the instructions for applying the coupon to their online purchase, and they cannot find the phone number for support. They effectively cannot use the coupon.



  1. A phone number, ideally with a feature to automatically call via an interoperable Voice user interfaces (VUIs) specification.
  2. A number that goes directly to a human or an available standard to get human help for example, using the 0 digit on voice menu systems.
  3. An email link using the “mailto” protocol [[mailto]] with prefilled “to” and “subject” fields. Note that this will not work on all platforms or mail clients.
  4. An option for live chat or video call help. Note: It must be fully accessible and easy to close new windows that open as part of live help functionality. Ensure live chats do not distract users from their task.


  1. Long contact forms the user must fully complete to get human help.
  2. Multi-step menus to reach help.
  3. Including the contact information on a single page that is only linked to from a few pages on the site.
  4. Forcing users to go through multiple steps to get to human help.

User Stories and Personas

User Story



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