Cognitive Accessibility 101 by Jamie and Lion at CSUN15

At the CSUN 2015 conference last week, I had the pleasure of attending a session by @JamieKnight about cognitive accessibility. Jamie has autism which makes browsing the web challenging (as well as traveling 6,000 miles to a conference). This was the basis for his presentation.

Jamie shared some methods of how he browses the web including the use of VoiceOver to assist with reading and zooming in on content to reduce clutter. He pointed out that giving up on a website might not be an option as the web is used for essential services these days )such as renewing a license or food shopping). This is a great reminder that we need to ensure enough attention is given to cognitive accessibility as it’s less popular than other areas (such as screen reader support).

Jamie and Lion about to present at CSUN15. Photo credit: Henny Swan


Here are some guidelines provided by Jamie to help with users with cognitive impairments. Notice that is much cross-over with usability techniques.

  • Use visual affordances (not flat design!)
  • Write clear language
  • Make it easy to find most important thing
  • Provide filtering tools; visually group elements
  • Limit decisions/options for user
  • Make “undo” easy
  • Avoid nesting tables and forms
  • Provide feedback on each step of a process
  • Provide inline help on forms where appropriate


Great quotes:

Many folks tweeted that this was their favorite session:

Related Reading


After written, the author Jamie Knight published the session’s content in a two-part series: