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3 Easy ways to create accessible content for Neurodivergent audiences

Creating inclusive texts doesn’t need to be difficult. With a few simple tweaks, you can make your writing and copywriting content more accessible to neurodivergent readers.

Inclusive and accessible content is an essential part of creating an equitable and diverse world. As everyday writers and copywriters, we have the power to make our content accessible to everyone, including neurodivergent readers.

Neurodivergent individuals, such as those with autism, dyslexia, and ADHD, often experience the world differently. Their needs may differ from those of neurotypical individuals. Therefore, it’s crucial to create content that is engaging, accessible and inclusive for all readers.

No matter your business, role or position, knowing how to make your content more accessible is a great way to further connect with your audience.

Content designed with neurotypical individuals in mind helps them to process the information you’re trying to communicate. Using clear and concise language, avoiding overly complex sentence structures, and choosing the right fonts can all help.

Keep it Short and Simple.

Every word you put out there carries weight, and how it resonates with your readers is crucial. Recognising that people with varying reading abilities may be engaging with your content is vital.

Neurodivergent readers may struggle with processing and understanding complex language or metaphors. Use straightforward language to ensure your message is clear.

Avoid using jargon or complex terminology that can confuse or overwhelm readers. People with neurodivergence or learning difficulties may find it challenging to comprehend content that is lengthy or filled with technical jargon. To get an idea of how accessible your piece is, an online readability checker can help. These tools evaluate written content based on sentence length, syllable count, and other elements that can affect readability.

Break it Up

Breaking up large blocks of text into smaller, more digestible chunks helps readers by making the content easier to read and understand. Use short paragraphs, headings, and bullet points to break up your text and make it easier to read and understand.

Readers who have ADHD or Autism may have difficulty with sustained attention and focus. When faced with a large block of text, they may become overwhelmed and find it difficult to concentrate on the content.

Some neurodivergent individuals, such as those with dyslexia or cognitive disabilities, may also have reading and comprehension difficulties. Large blocks of text can be daunting and make it harder for them to understand the material.

In fact, a 2018 study, ‘Figurative language comprehension in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analytic review,’ found individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have trouble understanding figurative language, such as idioms and metaphors. Researchers found that the difficulty varied depending on the type of figurative language used and that the individuals’ language abilities played a role in their comprehension.

Breaking your text into smaller chunks can make it easier for them to focus, follow along, comprehend, and stay engaged.

Plain Fonts and Formatting

When creating content, it's important to consider the readability of your text for neurodivergent readers.

One way to do this is by using plain fonts and a contrasting colour scheme to make your writing easier to read:

  • Use single-colour backgrounds. Avoid background patterns or pictures and distracting borders.

  • Contrast levels between background and text.

  • Use dark-coloured text on a light (not white) background.

  • Avoid green and red/pink, as these colours are difficult for those who have colour vision deficiencies (like colour blindness).

  • Consider alternatives to white backgrounds for paper, computer and visual aids such as whiteboards. White can appear too dazzling. Use cream or a soft pastel colour. Some dyslexic people will have their own colour preferences.

  • When printing, use matt paper rather than gloss. The paper should also be thick enough to prevent the other side from showing through.

Typography also plays a significant role in enhancing the accessibility of your content. Don't use swirly script typefaces or gaudy display fonts that can make it hard for people to read your content. Avoid underlining and italics, as this can make the text appear to run together and cause crowding. Use bold for emphasis.

Choose fonts that are easy to read, with clear distinctions between letters and consistent size and spacing. Sans-serif fonts like Arial or Verdana are generally easier to read than serif fonts like Times New Roman.

It's also important to use a font size that is easy to read, with a minimum of 12pt font size.

You can read more about how to use fonts with this great in-depth visual guide from Neurodiversity Design System.

For individuals with dyslexia or other reading disabilities, readable typography can have a significant impact on their ability to understand your content. By making simple choices in font and size, you can make your content more accessible and inclusive for all readers.

Creating accessible and inclusive content is vital for connecting with all readers, including those who are neurodivergent.

By implementing simple changes such as using clear and concise language, breaking up large blocks of text, and choosing plain and readable fonts, writers and copywriters can make a significant difference, potentially increasing readership by 26%.

Not all readers process information in the same way, and by considering the needs of neurodivergent readers, we can create a more equitable and diverse world. By incorporating these small changes, we can ensure that everyone has access to the information they need and deserve.

Want to read more about making your content more accessible for Neurodivergent people?

Created by neurodivergent members of the Leeds Autism AIM team, with support from autistic people and people with other neurodivergent conditions who work with the service, this guide is a thorough document with best practice recommendations: Making Information Accessible for Neurodivergent People


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