What is neurodiversity?
Many of us have encountered the words ‘neurodiversity’ or ‘neurodivergent’ at some point in our lives, but with little understanding of what they actually mean.
Neurodiversity is all about our neurological variations - simply put, neurodiversity is when a person’s brain naturally functions in a way that is different to what is regarded as the norm.
On the other hand, neurotypical refers to having a brain that works in a way that is the norm.
Neurodiversity accepts and welcomes these neurological variations, and does not view
Illnesses to be cured.
Some neurodivergent people have a diagnosis. They may be diagnosed with one of these conditions:
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Mental health conditions.
However some neurodivergent people may not fit into a diagnosis at all, and even if they do, 2 people with the same diagnosis are not the same.
Neurodiversity and accessing information
Some, but not all, neurodivergent people have varying needs in making information accessible to them. This post refers primarily to text-based information that is being read either on paper or on a screen.
Neurodivergent people may need information to be presented in a certain way to be able to consume and understand it. This might include:
Short sentences and paragraphs.
Avoiding jargon and complex language.
Logical reading orders and easy navigation.
Using specific colours for backgrounds, images and text.
Using specific text fonts.
Underlining links that will take the reader to the relevant information in, at most, 2 clicks.
Easy Read and Neurodiversity
Easy Read is an accessible format that works to create easier, clearer information that is neurodiverse-friendly. Here’s a checklist of accessible features we use at Easy Read Online when creating information:
Plain white background with black/dark text for ease of reading.
Light, pastel backgrounds for darker pictures for ease of seeing - as exampled in this post.
Use of FSMe font as the letters are easy to read, in comparison to a more embellished font.
Text that is never smaller than 14pt.
Complex words are bolded and explained with a simple definition.
Links are underlined and blue.
Navigational contents page that takes readers to the right page.
Appropriate line spacing.
Sentences that are around 15 words.
A clear image per sentence.
These features enable neurodivergent people to read and understand information in a way that meets their needs. Organisations should be striving to offer their information in Easy Read to be able to confidently assure they are a fully inclusive organisation.
When people have access to information they can understand, they can make informed decisions and take more control over their own lives.