Increased digitalisation creates both a challenge and an opportunity for the participation of persons with disabilities. Digital services can remove barriers encountered in the physical world. At the same time, online services and websites that are not accessible, can create new types of barriers. In many cases, it can be difficult for a website user to understand information online and to complete tasks using complicated interfaces. Whilst these issues can be faced by any user, some groups, such as persons with cognitive disabilities and older adults, are particularly vulnerable.
This study provides a comprehensive overview of research in Europe on the barriers to cognitive accessibility and the factors that have an impact on the autonomy and participation of persons with cognitive disabilities in the digital environment. The study is centred around a literature review that has been complemented with an extensive stakeholder consultation.
The study makes practical proposals to improve independent and inclusive access in six areas: web accessibility requirements, web design, awareness-raising, education, technology and personalisation. It concludes that measures to improve cognitive accessibility benefit everyone regardless of their ability. Furthermore, it highlights that, to get the most out of digitalisation as a society, there is a need to ensure that the ICT citizens use on a daily basis is easy to understand and handle.