Software accessibility for users with attention deficit disorder
To make products that are useful to everyone, including those physically or mentally challenged, UX designers have to adopt accessibility measures when creating designs. This way, you ensure that users can have the best experience while using your product.
A popular concern is attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with ADHD often struggle with concentrating on a task and could have bad memories, which can make it difficult to use digital products effectively.
In this article, we will explore the importance of software accessibility for users with ADHD and discuss best practices, tools and resources to aid individuals with ADHD in their software us
What exactly is ADHD?: Understanding the Challenges
According to numerous studies, individuals with ADHD usually spend more time on tasks than individuals without it. This is because they are more susceptible to distraction, procrastination and forgetfulness. A common problem is a flawed perception of time.
In a world where the sheer volume of information on the internet is enough to overwhelm just about anyone, it is a more dire situation for people with ADHD. The challenges people with ADHD face can have a significant impact on their personal lives or productivity as professionals, and their entire experience using digital products.
For instance, a person with a case of ADHD is unlikely to make it to your page with promotional offers if you don't streamline the process and present the user with relevant information. They might get distracted by so many options and end up not following a desired path.
Therefore, when designing software, UX designers must follow a set of accessibility guidelines to ensure their products address the peculiar challenges of software accessibility for ADHD users.
In the next section, we will consider this set of accepted standards and best practices.
Best Practices for Software Accessibility
As a UX designer, to make ADHD-friendly software you must consider the following best practices:
Simplifying design and minimizing distractions: excess visual clutter can lead to cognitive overload. Also, adding too much information or visual elements regardless of whether they serve any real purpose can lead to interfaces that are full of distractions.
ADHD users and everyone can benefit from a clean, minimalist design with minimal visual distractions. This is one of the top accessibility standards in UX design. UX principles like KISS (keep it simple stupid) and "less is more" are handy references to minimalist design techniques.
Incorporating visual and audio cues: Given the short-term span of their memory, it could be beneficial to add guides, instructions, reminders, etc, — cues within your software. Not only does this add to the overall quality of your product by increasing its intuitiveness, but these cues can also help ADHD users stay focused or remember important information while trying to complete another task. E.g of a good way to incorporate visual and audio cues is by using push notifications.
Providing adjustable settings: most software products make room for users to adjust elements to their preferences. This adds a great level of user control to the experience, an essential usability heuristic, and more importantly, it makes room for ADHD users to adjust font sizes, color schemes, and perform noise reduction making the software more accessible to them. Therefore, it is very important to design flexible interfaces that take into account the user's preferences.
Remember Hick's law: while this is a general usability principle, Hick's law is even more relevant to the discussion of accessibility for ADHD users. According to Hick's law, users generally struggle with indecisiveness and this is relative to the number of options you make available to them. That is, the more options users have the harder it is to make a decision.
ADHD users often struggle with focusing, therefore, it would be more effective to limit the options you present to them.
Designing products with ADD users in mind
Designing ADHD-friendly software requires adhering to the laid-out best practices, your design needs to make provisions for ADHD users, and ensure they have a rich experience using your product. That said, here are tools that can help you achieve that.
Tools and Resources for ADHD Accessibility
Fortunately, UX designers can use several tools and resources available to deliver products that meet the needs of ADHD users. These include:
- Assistive technologies: these technologies go beyond mere convenience tools, assistive technology assists users to complete various tasks with little effort. A lot of UX designers ensure to include them in their designs.
Examples of assistive technology for ADHD are text-to-speech software, dictation tools, and note-taking apps.
And thanks to the advancement in the AI industry, it is easier than ever to access these features. You can incorporate assistive technology into your design to help ADD users bypass their limitations and do more.
- Online communities and resources: there are several online communities where both ADHD users and designers can meet. Through such platforms, UX designers can better understand the challenges of ADHD users and how to solve them.
Also, there are free online websites with resources detailing the problems of ADHD users and how to address them. Examples of such platforms include the ADDitude Magazine and Understood.org.
- Guidelines and best practices for UX designers to improve ADD:
Luckily for UX designers, there's a consensus on what works and what doesn't when it comes to designing accessible interfaces. So you don't have to worry about coming up with a unique solution.
These sets of instructions are available to anyone and are found on standard sites such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In conclusion, software accessibility is crucial for ADD users, and software developers must prioritize ADD accessibility in their products. By implementing best practices, using assistive technology for ADHD, and other resources, we can make the software more accessible and improve the user experience for individuals with ADD.