WCAG and Dyslexia — Improving the Search Function of Websites for Users With Dyslexia (Without Making It Worse for Everyone Else)

Daniel Wessel, Ann Kathrin Kennecke, Moreen Heine

Abstract

Interaction becomes increasingly digital, including interactions with public authorities, requiring websites to be accessible for all. The strong focus on written words in digital interactions allows for assistive technology to improve access for many users. However, it might impede usability for users with reading and writing difficulties. The present paper examines whether guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) sufficiently cover users with dyslexia and how usability can be improved for this user group. Using literature research and interviews with users with dyslexia, and focusing on an application of the WCAG on the country level (a German law regulating accessibility for e-government websites), we confirmed and identified gaps in the WCAG for this group. We focus on within-site search, as this function is frequently used to find relevant information, esp. on infrequently visited sites like e-government websites. Modifications to improve search were developed based on literature and the results of the interviews. They were empirically evaluated in an online study with 31 users with dyslexia and 71 without. Results indicate that an auto-complete function, a search that compensates for spelling errors, an indicator that the search was corrected, search term summary information, and avoidance of capital letters were useful for both groups, while wider line spacing should only be used in end-user customization.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMuC '21: Proceedings of Mensch und Computer 2021
EditorsStefanie Schneegass, Bastian Pfleging, Dagmar Kern
Number of pages12
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date13.09.2021
Pages168–179
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-8645-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13.09.2021

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 409-05 Interactive and Intelligent Systems, Image and Language Processing, Computer Graphics and Visualisation
  • 409-06 Information Systems, Process and Knowledge Management

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