Universally Designed Text on the Web: Towards Readability Criteria Based on Anti-Patterns
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPetrie, Helen; Darzentas, Jenny; Walsh, Tanja; Swallow, David; Sandoval, Leonardo; Lewis, Andrew; Power, Christopher [Eds.] Universal Design 2016: Learning from the past, designing for the future p. 461-470 Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, IOS Press, 2016
The readability of web text s affects accessibility. The Web Content Acces sibility guidelines (WCAG) state that the recommended reading level should match that of someone who has completed basic schooling. However, WCAG do es not give advice on what constitutes an appropriate reading level. Web authors need tools to help composi n g WCAG compliant texts , and s pecific criteria are needed. C lassic readability metrics are generally based on lengths of words and sentences and have been criticized for being over - simplistic. Automatic measures and classifications of texts’ reading levels employing more advanced constructs remain a n unresolved problem. If such measures were feasible, what should these be? This work examines three language constructs not captured by current readability indices but believed to significantly affect actual read ability, namely, relative clauses, garden path sentences, and left - branching structures. The goal is to see whether quantifications of these stylistic features reflect readability and how they correspond to common readability measures. Manual assessments o f a set of authentic web texts for such uses were conducted. The results reveal that texts related to narratives such as children’s stories, which are given the highest readability value, do not contain these constructs. The structures in question occur mo re frequently in expository texts that aim at educating or disseminating information such as strategy and journal articles. The results suggest that language anti - patterns hold potential for establishing a set of deeper readability criteria.