DESIGN WITH DISABILITY IN MIND
Over the past few years Indigo, one of Newcastle’s leading new media agencies have established an excellent working relationship with two of the UK’s Connexions partnerships. Developing highly successful web and CD ROM based projects for Connexions Durham and a pioneering website project for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Connexions. The 4us website (www.4us.org.uk/
), the first of its kind for Connexions, is specifically aimed at reaching young people with learning disabilities and was evolved to provide equality of provision. While an online presence existed for young people aged 13 – 19 to access advice at www.purplepigeon.net
, another Indigo designed portal, there was nothing tailored to meet the needs of an audience with different levels of cognitive skills.
By working closely with staff at Connexions Cambridgeshire and Peterborough the Indigo team were able to respond to feedback from young people and their parents when developing the interface and CMS for the site. In approaching the design for young people with learning difficulties, there were a number of areas for consideration as Andy Graney, a Director of Indigo explains; “ For us accessible website design is about removing obstacles to the tools that a person with a disability is using to access web based information. We kept the design simple with fairly uniform screen layouts, using plain language and avoided pages overloaded with too many distractions and choices.”
By linking the on screen text to speech engine users are able to hear the content being read out by a character voice of their choice. They can choose either a male of female voice and the use of synthesised speech software allows the auditory information to be presented clearly and simply.
The combination of auditory information, pictures, and text helps to reinforce navigation and is ideal for users who have a short attention span or are easily distracted. “We find a lot of young people encounter reading difficulties,” explains Lyn Boothman, Information Manager with Connexions Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (now part of Cambridgeshire County Council); “This site offers an opportunity for us to deliver advice and support in an accessible, friendly manner. Indigo were the natural choice to develop this innovative project as they have an understanding of our needs and those of the young people we work with.”
The website accessibility conforms to the highest international levels of accessibility - W3C Triple A (AAA) and demonstrates Indigos understanding in the design of functional and accessible websites that provide maximum ease of use.
TAGS : CD ROM, Connexions Cambridgeshire, News, Portal Website, Web Accessibility, Young People Website, Youth Website