Development of the AASPIRE web accessibility guidelines for autistic web users

Dora M. Raymaker, Steven K. Kapp, Katherine E. Mcdonald, Michael Weiner, Elesia Ashkenazy, Christina Nicolaidis

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Websites figure predominantly in everyday life. However, many websites remain inaccessible to autistic people, and existing efforts to improve accessibility are in early stages, do not directly include autistic users in their development, or have not been empirically evaluated. The Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) used a community-based participatory research approach to create a website to improve health care access for autistic adults. We used the creation of that website as a “living laboratory” to develop the AASPIRE Web Accessibility Guidelines for Autistic Web Users. Our guidelines are grounded in accessibility theory, had autistic end-user involvement at all stages, and were empirically evaluated through a usability study and evaluation surveys. We incorporated what we learned into the design of the website, and compiled the accessibility information into a set of guidelines. The guidelines offer recommendations for increasing the physical, intellectual, and social acceptability of websites for use by autistic adults. In the evaluation of the website by 170 autistic end users, nearly all indicated it was easy to use (97%), easy to understand (95%), important (97%), and useful (96%). Ninety-two percent would recommend it to a friend, and 95% would recommend it to a health care provider. There were no significant associations between usability or understandability and education level, receipt of help using the site, browser type (e.g., IE or Safari), or device type (e.g., PC or tablet). We recommend using the guidelines to improve website accessibility for autistic Internet users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-157
Number of pages12
JournalAutism in Adulthood
Issue number2
Early online date6 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2019


  • autism
  • web accessibility
  • web accessibility guidelines
  • community-based participatory research


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