Neurodiversity and UX: Essential Resources for Cognitive Accessibility

Guidelines to understand and design for Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism and ADHD

What may be an intuitive experience for some can prove challenging or even exclusionary for others. From autism and ADHD to dyslexia, dyscalculia and other cognitive disabilities, designing for neurodiversity demands an inclusive approach.

Neurodiversity will impact how people interact with and perceive online content and interfaces. Yet, neurodiversity is not the most commonly thought about aspect of accessibility. This list exists to help you bridge the gap, and find resources to help you understand and guide you with cognitive accessibility, aka, accessibility for people with cognitive and learning disabilities: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism and ADHD.

Start with the WCAG and W3C guidelines

Any discussion around web accessibility starts with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and resources from the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).  While comprehensive, these guidelines can sometimes feel dense and difficult to parse, especially for neurodivergent individuals.

Resources from other accessibility actors

While official standards and guidelines provide a foundational framework, it’s the real-world expertise and practices from accessibility advocates that bring inclusive design principles to life. This section highlights resources from different accessibility advocates and actors in the field of accessibility.

Thumbnail of the six posters

Posters showing the dos and don’ts of designing for users with accessibility needs including autism, blindness, low vision, D/deaf or hard of hearing, mobility and dyslexia

Last but not least, Vitaly Friedman put together a LinkedIn post with even more resources on different topics related to neurodiversity.

Resources for people with literacy issues such as dyslexia / dyscalculia and more

Screenshot of the article Literacy and access

Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and low literacy present unique challenges in accessing digital content and interfaces. This section brings resources to understand and design for those.

Let’s start with dyslexia:

Let’s continue with dyscalculia:

A few links about design and usability testing with autism in mind

Designing for autistic people — overview of existing research

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodivergent condition that impacts how individuals experience and interact with the world around them. Designing digital products and services that are truly inclusive means understanding and addressing the unique needs of autistic users. I might add some more later

Resources to design more ADHD friendly products

Screenshot of the article Designing for People with ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodivergent conditions, affecting millions of people worldwide. However, its impact on web and software accessibility is often overlooked or misunderstood. This section explores resources to address the unique challenges and considerations for designing digital experiences for people with ADHD

Let’s start with resources to understand ADHD:

And now, how to make your designs ADHD friendly:

These resources were carefully curated to provide a well-rounded understanding of ADHD from multiple important perspectives – technical accessibility considerations, personal accounts and lived experiences, as well as guidance for creating more inclusive products, workplaces and presentations. If you would like to add a link to the list, get in touch.

Resources for neurodiverse workplaces and educational systems

Screenshot of the article How to recruit and onboard neurodivergent people

Fostering a neurodiverse and inclusive workplace and educational system brings immense creative and innovative potential. This section provides resources to understand the benefits of neurodivergent talent while learning how to build truly accommodating environments.

  • Gareth FW did an amazing job at BBC, they created a Sensory Environment Checklist, that goes through visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile issues neurospicy folks might have in the workplace. It brings examples of what to look for, what’s undesirable, and how to improve on each point.
  • Neurodiversity in the Workplace part 1 and part 2 are two amazing talks on how to offer accommodations for neurodivergent folks in your company, why you should do so, what you can gain from it (spoiler: better company for everyone!)
  • Neurodiversity is a strength in UX Design: A great 20 minutes talk by Saskia (Micki) Mick (Micki) on how neurodivergent people make good researchers
  • Cognitive Dissidents another great podcast episode with Shell Little where she shares her journey, talks about what a “Cognitive disability” can really mean, and even explains the surprising connection between accessibility and cosmetology. “The internet can be downright hostile for people with cognitive disabilities.”
  • Designing Inclusive Workplaces: a white paper designed to deliver DE&I, HR and business leaders with insights and inspiration around designing inclusive workspaces for diverse workforces.
  • Asking for accomodations at work on how to ask for ADHD accomodations are work, and what to ask for, and also check Things you can do if you’re not ready to ask for ADHD accommodations at work
  • Accommodating Neurodivergent Learners a 45 min talk by Star Peterson, M.Ed where they discuss how to design learning content that is accessible to autistic learners as well as learners with ADHD, learning disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other neurodivergences.
  • How to Recruit and Onboard Neurodivergent People: challenges and benefits of neurodiversity, how to nix the interview and get prepared to welcome neurodiverse people in your company
  • Neurodiversity Career Connector is a site to help neurodivergent folks find jobs
  • How to Make UX Research Accessible for Neurodivergent UX Professionals: Penninah Jones talks about the need to update industry standards for implementing UX research methods to make our field more accessible to neurodivergent professionals.

Together, these resources should help make others aware of what it means to be inclusive at work. If you have more knowledge or tools to become truly inclusive from recruitment through career development, share them by email!

Dramatic drumroll please, we have an announcement

Myriam Jessier and I launched the Neurospicy agency. Our services span training, strategic insights…and unique merchandise like stickers and socks.

Neurospicy is a never-ending source of dopamine and the opportunity to improve your approach to neurodiversity. We love to collaborate on bold projects of any size, blending strategic vision and nerdosity. Plus…everyone needs socks right? Some love them, some can’t stand them. But they sure make fun stocking stuffers at Christmas so buy our socks!