Digital Accessibility and Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that includes: Autism, Specific Learning Difficulties (e.g. Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia) and ADHD. 

While each of these differences has its own characteristics, the concept of neurodiversity views them as variations in how human brains can work - human brain diversity.

They may be diagnosed or undiagnosed, and may or may not have been communicated to you by the students. It is estimated that around 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent.

Neurodiversity Quick Tips

Check content for accessibility issues

Make sure text to speech software can read any text you provide properly. Scanned documents (rather than typed ones) are the most likely to cause issues. If you are working with physical copies of text, ensure you provide digital versions to students, so they can use assistive technology if they need to.

Provide content early

This allows students to prepare, refresh their memory or look up things they don't know in advance. It also helps reduce the cognitive load during synchronous online or face to face sessions, when students are simultaneously trying to understand, take notes and remember what has been said.

Give options

  • Visualisations are helpful to lots of students, but others will find them confusing. Depending on what you want to do, consider using a digital tool that can automatically create different versions of a visualisation, or provide an alternative, more structured format.
  • Consider providing different options for assessment. If the purpose is for them to learn about a topic, is an essay the only way to demonstrate their skills, or would a video assignment work just as well?

Be clear, concise, consistent

Keep your course and materials clean and uncluttered, their navigation and appearance consistent and their behaviour logical and predictable. Instructions, expectations and next steps should be clear. Ensure your reading lists are well structured.

Ask, don't assume

Ask students' feedback on your resources to understand how you can improve them. Don't assume they are distracted if they are doing something you didn't expect during learning. They may be handling their learning in the way that suits them.

Neurodiversity Quick Tip Clips - AbilityNet

Quick Tip Clip 2 - Provide Content Early

Alternative link for Quick Tip Clip 2 Provide Content Early