Web Accessibility and autism

 

 

Autism is mainly a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders. So, autism is also referred as autism spectrum disorder  (ASD). The conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication are commonly observed in people with autism.

 

Some Statistics of autism

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 59 or 1.7% children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is a 2014 data collected in some parts of United States. The data was much higher than the earlier statistics. The data also reveals that male children are reported much higher than female children. The male to female ratio who have ASD is 4: 1. This is definitely an alarming concern for the world.

 

ASD is found regardless of raise, culture or economic background and of course everywhere in the world.

Symptoms of autism

Though the symptoms of ASD typically found between 12 to 24 months, they may be even earlier or later.

The two main categories of symptoms defined by DSM-5 are

  1. problems with communication and social interaction,
  2. restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior or activities.

 

Problems with communication and social interaction include:

  • issues with communication, including difficulties sharing emotions, sharing interests, or maintaining a back-and-forth conversation
  • issues with nonverbal communication, such as trouble maintaining eye contact or reading body language
  • difficulties developing and maintaining relationships

 

Restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior or activities include:

  • repetitive movements, motions, or speech patterns
  • rigid adherence to specific routines or behaviors
  • an increase or decrease in sensitivity to specific sensory information from their surroundings, such as a negative reaction to a specific sound
  • fixated interests or preoccupations

 

Web Accessibility for Autism Spectrum

 

Web is for all, people experiencing autism are part of this user base. How can you make sure that your digital content can be made comfortable for these set of users? The digital content here refers to websites, software and mobile apps.

The world Wide Web Consortium’s, WCAG Guidelines are the superset rules that try to ensure the web content is accessible to everyone regardless of their disabilities. Below are some guidelines from this  WCAG checklist  that meets the needs of people with autism.

 

  • Provide content that is not prone to have seizures.
  • Screens or pages should be consistently identified and have a consistent navigation mechanism.
  • Content should be substituted with pictures for easy understanding.
  • Do not use ambiguous terms or words that have more than one meanings.
  • Use simple and easily understandable sentences.
  • Screens should not be cluttered and busy. The busy and cluttered designs will be over whelming to users with autism.
  • Clearly differentiate the links and the text on the page. Users should not be guessing for the links.
  • Be careful with moving, blinking, scrolling and auto-updating content. There should be a mechanism to control them.
  • Provide clear labels and instructions while filling the forms.
  • Having features such as autofill , auto complete etc. helps while filling forms.

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