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Dyslexia and Accessibility Guidelines – How to Avoid Barriers to Access in Public Services

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De Gruyter


Interaction becomes increasingly digital, including interactions with public authorities, requiring websites to be accessible for all. The strong focus on written words in digital interactions allows for assistive technology to improve access for many users. However, it might impede usability for users with reading and writing difficulties. The present paper examines whether guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) sufficiently cover users with dyslexia and how usability can be improved for this user group. This paper expands a previously published version at the Mensch und Computer 2021 conference [1]. Using literature research and interviews with users with dyslexia and focusing on an application of the WCAG on the country level (a German law regulating accessibility for e-government websites), we confirmed and identified gaps in the WCAG for this group. We focus on within-site search, as this function is frequently used to find relevant information, esp. on infrequently visited sites such as e-government websites. Modifications to improve search were developed based on literature and the results of the interviews. They were empirically evaluated in an online study with 31 users with dyslexia and 71 without. Results indicate that an auto-complete function, a search that compensates for spelling errors, an indicator that the search was corrected, search term summary information, and avoidance of capital letters were useful for both groups, while wider line spacing should only be used in end-user customization.


Kennecke, Ann-Kathrin; Wessel, Daniel; Heine, Moreen (2022): Dyslexia and Accessibility Guidelines – How to Avoid Barriers to Access in Public Services. i-com: Vol. 21, No. 1. DOI: 10.1515/icom-2021-0040. Berlin: De Gruyter. PISSN: 2196-6826. pp. 139-155