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Making the Internet accessible for people with cognitive and communication Impairments

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This paper provides an overview of the work of the European Union (EU) World Wide Augmentative and Alternative Communication (WWAAC) project, which aims to make the electronic highway more accessible to people with cognitive and communication impairments, in particular those persons using symbols instead of text to communicate. Many of these users will also be users of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices. The appropriateness of guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are discussed, with the finding that few specific guidelines are available to make Web sites truly accessible and usable for these user groups. We propose that additional guidelines are required in order to facilitate access to Web pages for AAC users. Requirements capture and preliminary evaluation activities within the project have led to the development of draft guidelines that will be refined and validated as the project reaches its final evaluation phase. These draft guidelines are discussed along with other developments needed in this area.

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The authors are grateful to the European Commission for the funding received within the IST Programme and also wish to thank the entire WWAAC Consortium for their comments and contributions to the study, including Handicom (The Netherlands), The ACE Centre Advisory Trust (UK), Dundee University (UK), DART Regional Children’s Habilitation, Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Sweden), the Department of Speech, Music and Hearing, Kungl Tekniska Hogskölan (Sweden), Modemo (Finland), MITC (Denmark) and Femtio Procent Data (Sweden).

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Correspondence to David Poulson.

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Poulson, D., Nicolle, C. Making the Internet accessible for people with cognitive and communication Impairments. Univ Access Inf Soc 3, 48–56 (2004).

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