Website design is imperative for a website like mine if ‘Legal Recruit’ is to be optimal help to law students with reading problems or visual impairments. The website is accessible here. I’ll radically re-design some of the pages ahead of the official launch of ‘Legal Recruit’ in early November.
Shamefully, I was unaware of the good practice guidelines for website design to optimise websites for individuals with dyslexia. I had a very interesting conversation with the British Dyslexia Association helpline about how many students are not even recognised as dyslexic until they have sat their Finals at undergraduate level. This to some extent is being mitigated by Universities and University Colleges now performing a simple screening test on admission. The helpline immediately pointed me in the direction of these style guidelines. Above all, I am hugely grateful to @CreativeCrip whose experience and knowledge shone through in tweets as short as 140 characters. I would not have known about any of this, if it were not for Creative Crip.
Their guidance is as follows, and my reactions are also provided. A strength of the website is that it’s possible to alter the text size. A weakness of the website is that it’s not possible to alter the text style.
Website design must consider all the above factors together with the following points.
Research shows that readers access text at a 25% slower rate on a computer. This should be taken into account when putting information on the web. When a website is completed, check the site and information for accessibility by carrying out these simple checks.
- Navigation should be easy. A site map is helpful. [We do not have a site map but a navigation bar]
- Use graphics, images, and pictures to break up text, while bearing in mind that graphics and tables may take a long time to download. [The website currently fails to do this on some pages, but this can be easily remedied.]
- Very large graphics make pages harder to read. [Graphics are scaled, but I will never use graphics bigger than ‘medium’ in future].
- Offer alternate download pages in a text reader friendly style. [The LegalRecruit webpage allows different text sizes]
- Where possible design web pages which can be downloaded and read off-line. [I will need to consult about this]
- Moving text creates problems for people with visual difficulties. Text reading software is unable to read moving text. [There is a slideshow of moving images on the front page, but there is no moving text on the website].
- Contents links should show which pages have been accessed. [The text has various hyperlinks.]
- Most users prefer dark print on a pale background. Colour preferences vary. [The website mostly uses a clear sans serif font in lack on a white background.]
- Some websites offer a choice of background colours. [I have decided not to use a range of different background colours.]
- Encourage the use of hyperlinks at the end of sentences. [I was completely unaware of this, but I note this information.]
- Avoid green and red/pink as these are difficult for colour-blind individuals. [The logo is dark red – for personal reasons. I am very mindful of this observation.]
- Make sure that it is possible for users to set their own choice of font style and size, background and print colours. [I will need to discuss this.]