Much content about digital accessibility has visual or hearing impairments at its centre. These kinds of disabilities are obvious and will therefore often be the first thing people think of when it comes to digital accessibility. A group that gets more attention in other cases, such as education, is people with ADHD. Not surprisingly, this group is taken into account in schools because, according to the RIVM, 2.9% of people under 18 have ADHD. For adults, this is about 2.1%. So in total, this is about 400,000 people nationwide.
By better understanding the stumbling blocks of this group, the internet can also be made as easy as possible for people with ADHD. This article discusses online obstacles for people with ADHD, so that web developers and online marketers can take this group into account while building the internet.
The goal of DigitallyAccessible.com is to work towards an accessible internet, for everyone. So, besides optimising websites for screen readers or keyboard use, optimisation for people with ADHD is also important. But, how different is surfing the internet for these people really? The limitations someone with ADHD may encounter are described below, divided into two groups: attention-related and hyperactive impulsive.
Before describing the limitations, it should be mentioned that there is no such thing as ‘the ADHD limitations/symptoms’. Every person is unique, so also every person with ADHD experiences these symptoms in his or her own way. The limitations discussed below apply in general.
Limitations of people with ADHD related to attention are:
- Having difficulty holding attention for a longer period of time.
- Not having an eye for detail due to rushed thinking.
- Having difficulty following instructions.
- Having difficulty organising or planning activities.
- Losing objects easily.
- Being easily distracted or forgetting things quickly.
ADHD does not only limit people in terms of attention. The impulsive/hyperactive aspect also affects this group, including when they use the internet. Some of these limitations include:
- Having difficulty staying seated.
- Talking excessively.
- Rocking on chairs or excessive fidgeting with hands.
- A feeling of restlessness.
- Difficulty working or studying in silence
- Answering questions without thinking carefully about the answer
Obstacles on the internet
In practice, these symptoms lead to visitors on a website or app quickly losing focus or becoming overexcited by too many images, text or other elements. Unexpected or illogical responses are also frustrating. An example is a link that opens in a new tab, while other links do open in the same window.
Other stumbling blocks that people with ADHD encounter on the internet are:
- Huge chunks of text.
- Lots of different fonts.
- Too little time in videos to read along or to make choices in apps.
- Complex and unnecessarily long forms.
- Inconsistent use of icons.
Optimising for people with ADHD
The tips for building websites and apps for people with ADHD are less concrete than for people with auditory or visual impairments. To create digital projects that are also user-friendly for people with ADHD, it is important not to ask too much of the user. Practical tips and tricks are discussed in the article ‘An accessible internet for people with ADHD’. To achieve optimal results, it is advisable to have your website or app tested through an accessibility audit.