Going through the accessibility posters from the UK Home Office I found something I can't understand. In the section about Designing for users who are deaf or hard of hearing they recommend to do not use:

  • Complicated words or figures of speech.
  • Complex layouts and menus.

What's the rationale behind this? How this impairment affects your abilities to read complex text and navigate complex layouts? Are there scientific studies to corroborate this suggestion?

  • 1
    It is difficult to associate letters with sounds when your first language has no written system at all, just hand gestures. Mar 26, 2019 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


I assume this applies to people who were born deaf or lost their hearing at a very young age. The consequence of this is that they grow up with sign language as their native language. This doesn't mean that they can't grasp complex concepts, but sign language is not the signed equivalent of the spoken language used around Deaf people. Consequently, the written language they need to deal with is essentially the writing system of a foreign language and complicated word and figures of speech are harder to understand than in one's native language, i.e. in this case sign language.

The relevance of complex layouts and menus is a bit less obvious. I assume these aspects are mentioned because anything that makes the reading process harder should be avoided. The reading process is already harder for native signers than for people who learnt the written language as a system that represents their spoken language.

  • 1
    Adding to this: And for those who don't learn sign language, chances are high that they have gaps in their vocabulary since it takes more time and effort for them to learn new words. So either way it's recommended not to use complicated words or figures of speech for this reason. Mar 27, 2019 at 6:06

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