People rely on four organs to absorb knowledge, namely the eyes, ears, mouth, and muscles. But most people remember the learning gathered from one of these more than the others. That is why some people remember visual information, while some move their hands or legs while studying. These organs do not always function in conventional ways for people with cognitive disabilities. For them, one sense of absorbing information is often stronger than the others.
Those who rely on visual methods of retaining information do it in two ways. Some people retain more information when they read it, while others prefer looking at visuals like images, illustrations, graphs, and diagrams. The same is true for people with cognitive disabilities. Some of them retain more information when they read it while others remember more when they look at pictures.
Visual learners often remember more based on the color, layout, and other aspects of the information. They need to have a visual representation of the textual data, such as graphs or pictures that represent the text provided in the content.
Visual Learning and Website Accessibility
It is necessary to think of all forms of disabilities while you optimize your website accessibility, and that includes cognitive disabilities. That is why the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has set rules about cognitive disability barriers while optimizing a website. But what is your purpose in providing accessibility? It would depend on your website and the nature of your business. But in most cases, you would want the user to retain the information provided.
A few web accessibility solutions like accessiBe and UserWay have made automated software that can make your website ADA compliant and up to date with WCAG 2.1 if that is your motive. But in all probabilities, you want your customers to interact with and remember your brand. For that, you need to ensure that the visual elements of your content are accessible and optimized.
Optimizing the visible aspects of your website would not only make it easier for people with cognitive disabilities but will also make it pleasing to look at. Most of the visual requirements WCAG 2.1 makes a website look cleaner, simpler to read, and have optional color contrast. Well-structured information does not only benefit people with disabilities but others as well, because it makes the content look cleaner and easier to read by everyone. These are some website accessibility methods to ensure that your content appeals to people who retain information by looking at it.
Create Accessible Images
It is a popular opinion that images should be avoided to make a website accessible to the visually impaired. But pictures and diagrams can also help people with other kinds of disabilities, such as cognitive disorders that rely on visual learning. They can be used strategically to break up large paragraphs and provide visual information to people with dyslexia. But if there are images with relevant information in them, make sure that you describe the information aptly in the alt text attribute, so that screen readers and other assistive technologies can relay the information to the visually impaired.
Colors as Information
Colors can be used as visual stimulation to help people with cognitive disabilities retain information. People often associate different colors with words, such as blue with water, green for trees, red with fire, brown with earth, so on and so forth. These methods have been used by several brands strategically to create memories in our minds. For example, a multicolored “G” on a white background will automatically remind people of Google.
While colors are significant for people with strong visual retention abilities, they must not get used alone to convey information. If you use colors, make sure that you provide adequate text and visual alternatives for people with other types of disabilities who cannot see these colors.
Color contrast also plays a vital role in website accessibility. The WCAG 2.1 has specific requirements for accessible websites regarding color contrast for people who cannot see properly. But color contrast can also be an effective visual method of ensuring that people remember what they see. Since color contrast can make things pop out of the background, people with cognitive disabilities can remember it distinctly.
Closed Captions and Audio Descriptions
Most people who have heard of website accessibility know the captions and audio descriptions are essential parts of providing video content on websites. But have you noticed that some websites give you the options to select a color for the closed captions? There are options to choose between white, yellow, cyan, and green. These colors not only provide optimal color contrast for people with visual problems, but they also help with retaining more information from the videos. Colors can be used on transcripts and audio descriptions the same way as you would for other textual content on the website to maximize memory retention.
Whether your website is for educational, healthcare, or business purposes, ensuring maximum retention of information is always desirable. Visual representation of data, as well as the use of colors, can help you to achieve your objectives with people who rely on visual methods to retain information, including those with cognitive disabilities.
Further reading and resources:
– American Foundation for the Blind (https://www.afb.org/)
– Cerebral Palsy Family Network (https://cpfamilynetwork.org/)
– National Downs Syndrome Society (https://www.ndss.org/)