Neurodivergent - it’s one of those terms that you have probably heard at some point, even if you have absolutely no clue what it means. But don’t worry, you are not alone, and what this technical sounding term boils down to is really not all that hard to wrap your head around.
So, what is it? Well, neurodivergent is a nonmedical term that basically describes people whose brains function differently in one or more ways. Neurodiversity, by extension, refers to a wide range of people who experience variations in cognition that can affect sociability, learning, attention, mood, and various other mental functions.
Some conditions that are commonly associated with neurodivergent individuals include but are not limited to:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
Why Web Content Needs To Be Inclusive for Neurodivergent Users
The internet in 2022 is not some exclusive service or luxury item used only by a select minority, but rather a day-to-day necessity for the majority of people on the planet.
Today, if you are looking to ensure that your website content is truly accessible for all visitors, making sure it is palatable for neurodivergent visitors is an absolute must.
Not only is it the right thing to do from a moral and social point of view, but it can also facilitate organizational growth and enhance your online reputation.
For the first time since its inception, it is no exaggeration to say that access to the internet and all that it has to offer now constitutes an essential part of partaking fully in society. If efforts are not made to consider the needs of neurodivergent people online, many will be condemned to live a life without full access to the basic information and services that everyone else now takes for granted.
7 Website Content Inclusivity Tips for Neurodivergent Users
Much of what should be considered when optimizing your website for neurodivergent users comes down to keeping things simple. Indeed, using common sense when considering the challenges that some face online will take you a long way towards making your content inclusive for neurodivergent users.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at 7 tips for ensuring your website content is inclusive for neurodivergent visitors:
Tip 1. Use simple and cohesive colors
For some neurodivergent users, including those with autism, an overload of bright colors may become distracting to the degree that a good web experience becomes simply impossible. Try to keep this in mind, and use basic and unified color schemes.
Tip 2. Write in plain, simple language
Unnecessarily complex written content can, for many neurodivergent users, easily derail an otherwise smooth and enjoyable website experience. To benefit these visitors, including those with ADHD and dyslexia, try to keep your language as simple and to the point as possible.
Tip 3. Format text into digestible and scannable chunks
Just as overly complex written content can make for a confusing and overwhelming web experience, so too can intimidatingly large blocks of text. Try to break up your content so that visitors can ‘‘scan’’ it easily and digest it without too much mental strain.
Tip 4. Use practical graphics and imagery to support text
Sometimes, a clear visual can speak a thousand words. Well, maybe a thousand words aren’t always what’s needed, but you get the idea. A clear and simple graphic can be a powerful way to reinforce your message and ensure that your content is understood by all visitors.
Tip 5. Ensure call-to-action (CTA) buttons are descriptive
Your CTA text needs to be clear, concise, and tell the user why they should click-through and what to expect next. If your CTA buttons are overly long, difficult to follow, and fundamentally non-descriptive, this can cause significant issues for neurodivergent users.
Tip 6. Produce content in additional formats
Providing website content in additional formats allows neurodivergent users to engage with your website on their own terms. In order to make it easier to consume your content, consider providing the following additional formats where possible:
- Descriptive subtitles for any video content.
- Additional microcopy text.
- Audio reader functionality.
- Website customization that allows users to change brightness, text size or color schemes.
Tip 7. Refer to ADA compliance and WCAG guidelines
The Americans with Disabilities Act’s core principles include the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which state that in order to be considered accessible, websites must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
If your website content meets all of these four core WCAG checkpoints you can, as a general rule, be pretty confident that it also meets the needs of the majority of your neurodivergent visitors.
At the end of the day, when it comes to facilitating and maintaining a website experience that is engaging, enjoyable and accessible for all, the truth is that there is always more work that can be done. By using the above 7 tips, however, you can at least ensure that you are covering the basics towards providing an optimal experience for neurodivergent visitors.
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