Web Accessibility, Dyspraxia, & Supporting Neurodiversity Online
Have you heard of dyspraxia? Many people haven’t, and as such may be tempted to skim past this article assuming it does not apply to them or anyone they know. However, it is a condition that affects around 10% of the population in total, and at least 3-4% in a significant way. So, the chances are that in any classroom or office space there will be a student or colleague who has dyspraxia and needs to be supported.
What is Dyspraxia?
Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder, also referred to as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Typical symptoms include clumsiness, poor spatial awareness, forgetfulness, and difficultly mastering motor skills. In a formal learning or professional environment, common difficulties can include being overwhelmed by information, problems with spelling, and struggling to read and process information at the same rate as others.
Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder but can often go undiagnosed in children or be confused for other learning difficulties or disabilities. For example, our guest blogger from last year, Daniel Cobb, was not diagnosed until the age of 43.
Did you know that over 15% of the population are neurodiverse?
As with most other neurological disorders and learning difficulties, dyspraxia is not a marker of intelligence. Those who have it simply have brains that work differently and don’t assimilate information in the same way as other people.
You can read more about dyspraxia on the Dyspraxia UK website.
Dyspraxia and Web Accessibility
Because dyspraxics often suffer from sensory overload, busy web pages with lots of text and many graphics can be overwhelming, and therefore reading and processing on-screen information is difficult. Some colour contrasts also present problems, black text on a white background being particularly hard to read. When you consider that this accounts for the vast majority of websites, it becomes clear that the online world is not as navigable for dyspraxics as it is for other users. This puts them at a significant disadvantage using websites and online communication channels for everyday tasks and can also make job searches much more difficult. Whether it’s using job boards or business sites like LinkedIn and Upwork, or simply registering with a recruitment agency or completing an online application, dyspraxics will need to spend much more time on each task, and the process can be incredibly frustrating.
Dyspraxia and Employment
Dyspraxia needn’t stop people from being successful or finding their dream job, but employers need to be mindful that dyspraxics on their team may need additional support. At Recite Me, this is something we actively encourage. The average cost of making an adjustment for an employee is typically just a few hundred pounds/dollars, and data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. So any outlay is almost certainly recouped many times over. Equally importantly, dyspraxia is included in the list of disabilities covered under the Equality Act of 2010, so many employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments.
Dyspraxic employees display similar qualities to dyslexics in that they are often creative thinkers and strategic problem solvers, and are generally highly motivated and hard-working. Many modern-day employers see the benefits of a team that includes neurodiverse members, as it allows them to be more progressive and develop better strategies for working effectively. In fact, many top-end companies and organisations actively seek out neurodiverse employees:
- Facebook – Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently praised a dyspraxic teenager who created a developmental disorders app.
- GCHQ Intelligence Agency - To maintain operating as a world-class organisation, the agency formally recognises that different kinds of thinkers are required, and admits to placing a high value on candidates who are cognitively different from their peers.
- Ernst & Young - Senior partners at the company believe that employees with disabilities are more empathetic, more resilient under pressure, and have well- developed coping strategies, making them particularly attractive to the firm.
Supporting Dyspraxia Online
Recite Me assistive technology is the perfect solution to help businesses and organisations support their neurodiverse team members, as users can make singular or multiple adjustments to adapt the way web content is presented to suit their individual needs. To combat accessibility barriers presented by dyspraxia specifically, the Recite Me toolbar offers:
- A totally customisable screen reader
- Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages
- Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud
- Customisation options for text font, colour, sizing, and spacing
- A spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus
Find Out More
In the increasingly digital landscape of 2020, it has never been more important that everyone has equal access to information online. For further details on becoming more inclusive by utilising our assistive technology, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.