We are excited to present our Accessibility in 5 monthly series to promote an accessible culture at UF. Disabilities can be invisible or visible, but when we design with accessibility in mind, we are doing the right thing and providing an equitable experience for people with disabilities at the University of Florida. Each video will be short and informative and feature a different accessibility skill that you can incorporate into your content design. By helping you create a more accessible environment, we are contributing to our shared goal of enabling student success. Check back next month for a new topic!  

Video of the Month

Cognitive Accessibility

Cognitive accessibility removes barriers to understanding content. This episode will teach you how to simplify text--avoiding that wall of text-- and to use plain language so your content reaches a wider audience.

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Tammy: Hey there, welcome to another episode of Accessibility in 5, where we provide quick tips for making your content more accessible in five minutes or less. I'm Tammy and joining me today is Anchalee.

Anchalee: Glad to be here.

Tammy: Today, we're diving into the realm of cognitive accessibility.

Anchalee: Absolutely! You might be wondering, "I know about the basics of web accessibility, but what exactly is cognitive accessibility?"

Tammy: Great question! Cognitive accessibility is all about tearing down barriers for those whose disabilities affect how they process information.

Anchalee: Exactly. Do you know around 25% of U.S. adults face disabilities, and about 10% deal with cognitive challenges like Dyslexia or Autism? These conditions can impact how people use digital content.

Tammy: Absolutely, Anchalee. Readability is key here. Readability is how easily information can be understood. One way to boost readability is to embrace the writing style Plain English-using clear and straightforward language. Let's explore some techniques to increase readability.

Anchalee: We will break it down into three general principles for Plain English: First, Writing for the Audience, and second, Organizing your Content. Third, Simplifying Everything.

Tammy: First, consider your audience. Who's reading your content? If it's public facing, try a simple shift. Use conversational pronouns like 'you,' 'us,' 'our,' and 'we.' It makes the tone more approachable, keeping those with cognitive differences engaged and benefiting everyone.

Anchalee: And don't forget the power of an active voice with strong verbs. For example, instead of saying, "Claims will be processed within 24 hours." Say, "We process claims within 24 hours." Remember, to make your message clear, concise, and user-friendly by using an active voice with strong verbs.

Tammy: Now, let's talk about organizing content. The order matters. People generally read only 28% of words on a web page, so start with the most important information, then dive into the details. It helps users get to the main points quickly without getting lost.

Anchalee: Also be sure to make your information scannable. That is, try to avoid a big wall of text. Users cannot easily get the information when material is presented like this. You can organize content into small chunks; 5-7 lines per paragraph is the best. Use bullets rather than a wall of text. Also, take advantage of white space, which increases readability.

Tammy: Lastly, simplify things. Keep headings short and descriptive. Remove unnecessary words-edit by asking, "Do I need this? Can I be more concise?" Remember, less is more!

Anchalee: Absolutely! Keep the language simple. Avoid acronyms and jargon. Use words that everyone understands. Think about the words readers use when they search for information. This will not only improve cognitive accessibility but also help your sites come up in the search engines.

Tammy: So, how do we know if we're increasing cognitive accessibility?

Anchalee: You can use readability tests to ensure that your content is cognitively accessible.

Tammy: Microsoft Word offers readability and level statistics through Editor. Open your Word document and select Home. Choose editor, then scroll down to Document stats. Click OK.

Anchalee: The Readability Stats give a lot of useful information. Here you will see the average number of sentences per paragraph and words per sentence. Not only that, the Flesch Reading Ease score is provided. Scores between 60 - 70 are ideal; it means easy to read for most people. The higher the score, the easier the document is to understand.

Tammy: You will also find the Flesch-Kincaid grade level test. A score between 7.0 to 8.0 is the best. Most web content should be written around an 8th grade level. There are cases where a higher reading level is appropriate, such as academic writing. If you're an instructor, simplify your materials, like syllabi and assignment instructions, so your expectations are clear.

Anchalee: One other helpful tool is Readability Formulas. Just paste your content into the box, choose a Popular Formula, then click Calculate Text Readability. This will provide Readability Results, so you know if you need to make any changes.

Tammy: So, to increase cognitive accessibility, remember to use Plain English by: Considering the Audience, Organizing Content, and Simplifying Everything.

Anchalee: Thank you for watching Accessibility in 5! You can find this video and previous ones under Resources on the CITT website. Tune in next month to learn how to make hyperlinks accessible.

Tammy: See you next time!

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