What the issue is
Content that uses language at a level of complexity not suitable for its intended audience can hinder understanding, particularly for users with cognitive disabilities, learning difficulties, or limited proficiency in the language of the content. It also impact situational accessibility where users are busy or have limited capacity to attend to displayed text.
Why this is important
Ensuring that the language level matches the capability and expectations of the intended audience is fundamental for accessibility. This includes considering the vocabulary, sentence structure, and concept complexity to make the content as accessible as possible. It helps all users, especially those with cognitive impairments or those who are not native speakers, to better understand the information presented.
Who it affects
This issue primarily affects:
- Users with cognitive disabilities or learning difficulties, who may find complex language challenging to understand.
- Non-native speakers or users with limited proficiency in the language, who may struggle with advanced vocabulary or complex sentence structures.
- Young readers or individuals with lower literacy levels, for whom high-level language poses a barrier to comprehension.
- People, who due to their current situation, have limited capacity for attending to displayed information.
How to remediate the issue
- Assess the language level of your content to ensure it matches the intended audience’s capability and expectations.
- Consider simplifying language where possible, using plain language principles to make content more accessible.
- Provide supplemental material or explanations for complex concepts or jargon, supporting users’ understanding.
- Utilize user research and feedback to gauge if the language level is appropriate and adjust based on findings.
Further guidance on writing accessible web content can be found at WCAG Quick Reference: Reading Level.