Accessibility Issues and strategies for people with cognitive impairments

A cognitive impairment is defined as a condition which can cause problems with cognitive functions such as thinking, reasoning, memory, or attention.

Cognitive impairments can have a wide variety of causes but some of the more common causes are:

  • Acquired brain injuries
  • Strokes
  • Dementia
  • Drug / alcohol dependency
  • Brain tumours

In terms of accessibility people with cognitive impairments may have issues with:

  • Reading and writing. People with reading and writing issues will benefit from using a screen reader to read onscreen content to them and check their own typed content.
  • Understanding complex language or instructions. People with cognitive impairments may struggle to understand jargon or pick up on figures of speech such as sarcasm. Content providers may consider using simpler more direct language or providing additional content such as Easy Read or plain text versions of their content.
  • Navigating complex websites or apps. Websites or apps with complex menu systems can be a problem for just about everybody but especially for people with cognitive impairments so it is recommended that website or app navigation be kept as simple and straightforward as possible.
  • Filling in online forms. Online forms should include instructions on how they should be completed and guidance given if incorrect information is entered into any part of the form.