Caroline Jarrett

Effortmark Ltd

co-founder of the Design to Read project

Position statement for the CHI 2010 Design to Read Workshop

Past work and interest in the topic

For a number of years, my work focused on tax forms and related documents. These were difficult for anyone to read and so my goal became achieving a standard of usability for the
'average reader'.

Fast forward a few years, and I am now working with clients who do need to create information-rich web sites and associated documents that are available for anyone to use. I began to notice that guidelines for accessibility have focused in the past on people with visual impairments, but this is only one of the reasons why people do not read easily.

I'm also interested in the problems of designing for people with disabilities due to a long
association with Woodlarks Camp Site Trust, a permanent camp site where people with and
without disabilities camp together. Many of the campers have 'profound and multiple learning disabilities', making communication with them a challenge. How can we best design materials, especially related to government or health, that allow them to make choices?

Current motivation for the workshop

In our work for the Open University, Whitney Quesenbery and I found that design guidelines for
different groups such as low literacy, teenagers, and older people were in fact very similar. This
led to thinking about design guidelines for many types of people who do not read easily: are the
guidelines still going to be similar, or are there crucial differences that we need to take into

Th previous Design to Read workshop in Liverpool created a framework of advice and audiences that I would like to explore further.

Critical issues

What research is available to inform design? Where is it published?
Are the guidelines for designing for different groups similar, or in conflict?
Are guidelines any help in design for these groups anyway, or is it all down to usability testing
with the many varied audiences?

Issues to avoid

Causes of impairment or of other difficulties in reading.
Educating people to become better readers.