Criteria for cognitive accessibility of digital interfaces

International standards for web accessibility focus on technical aspects, which primarily facilitates for persons using assistive technology. However, for many users, the design, logic and comprehension of the interface create difficulties. Therefore, we want to develop testable criteria for cognitive accessibility.

In cooperation with Stockholm University, Swedish Standards Institute and the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools, we have received funding from Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, to work on new requirements. The goal is to design requirements that can be incorporated into international standards and legislation.

IT today permeates most of society. We are expected to handle more and more online, and the services are becoming more and more complex. Many users experience difficulties coping with digitalisation. EU law demands e-accessibility, but the standards on which the laws are based does not provide enough support for cognitive accessibility. At the same time, the number of people with cognitive impairments increases.

We can not passively watch when large groups are being expelled of digitalisation, especially when the accessibility regulations are actually increasing in the technical parts," says Funka's CEO Susanna Laurin, who has a long experience in standardisation. This feels like one of the most important things we do right now. If we succeed, we can help to change society in an inclusive direction for very large groups.

Cognitive accessibility requirements are needed in many areas, but in this project we have chosen to focus on schools. As more and more teaching is done through digital teaching materials, the need for standardized criteria in the area is very large. The result of better minimum cognition requirements would provide more efficient teaching and more students reaching the knowledge goals, as well as reduced costs for individual services. But also in other sectors of society, the needs are very large.

The project has been supported in the initialization phase, where we will map needs, develop concepts for the development of the criteria, carry out market research and plan the actual implementation part.


Funding: VINNOVA, Sweden’s innovation agency
Consortium: Funka (project manager), The Department of Computer and Systems Sciences at Stockholm University, Swedish Standards Institute and the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools.
Period: April 2018 – December 2018.
Budget: 45 000 EUR (phase 1)