CDS Insights


Navigating Neurodiversity: 11 Guidelines for Designing Inclusive Web Pages

Neurodiversity is a concept that recognizes and celebrates the natural variations in neurological differences among individuals. It encompasses the idea that diverse neurological conditions, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others, are part of the normal spectrum of human cognition and should be acknowledged and respected rather than deemed “disorders” that need to be fixed or normalized. Rather, neurodiversity is the understanding that variations contribute to the richness of human experiences, skills, and perspectives.   

hands holding jigsaw puzzle pieces of head for neurodiversity header

To be advocates of neurodiversity in the events industry, we need to prioritize creating inclusive environments that accommodate and embrace these differences, allowing individuals with diverse neurological traits to fully participate in and thrive at our events, not only onsite, but online as well. That means that we must ensure that we are creating inclusive and user-friendly online experiences.  

By following these 11 guidelines, you can make your event web pages and online forms more accessible and welcoming for everyone.  

1. Clear and Consistent Layout

A structured and predictable layout helps all attendees find what they need. Keep headings, colors, and spacing consistent throughout your event web page and forms to create a familiar visual pattern for neurodiverse users. 

2. Readable Typography

Choose legible fonts and appropriate font sizes to enhance readability. Simple and clean typography ensures that all attendees, regardless of their cognitive processing, can easily understand and engage with your content. 

3. Create Colors that Contrast, But Don’t Overstimulate muted color palette contrasted on warm gray background

On one hand, creating a high contrast between text and background can improve visibility, making it easier for those with visual processing differences to distinguish content and reduce cognitive strain. However, overlaying two highly contrasting colors on top of each other can create an unpleasant, overstimulating experience.  

In general, neurodiverse audiences have a preference toward muted, pastel hues and neutral tones. Consider using a matte black background with two or three pastel hues to depict data, or a neutral tan, gray, or white background to prevent colors from overwhelming the reader.  

Resource: At CDS, one of our favorite quick tools to use for accessibility regarding color contrast is the WebAIM contrast checker

4. Minimal Distractions

Simplify your event web page and forms by reducing unnecessary animations and busy backgrounds. A clean design minimizes sensory overload, allowing your users to focus on essential content. 

Resource: To better understand how to keep our web pages simple, we wanted to learn exactly who we were designing for. This resource helped us understand visual impairments better. 

5. Visual Hierarchy HTML header visual hierarchy example

Use clear headings, subheadings, and visual cues to establish a hierarchy of information. Neurodiverse users benefit from a structured content layout that helps them quickly grasp the importance and organization of information. 

Resource: At CDS, we make certain that the sites we build follow a consistent H1-H6 text structure for content. This helps the full spectrum of people follow our content. No shortcuts! It sounds simple, but here’s some further reading on making headings more accessible.  

6. Descriptive and Concise Content

Craft straightforward language and concise sentences to facilitate comprehension. Clear content helps neurodiverse individuals process information more easily and reduces the risk of misinterpretation. 

7. Meaningful Visuals with Alt Text

Include descriptive image alternative text (also known as alt text or alt tags) for images and diagrams. This ensures that neurodiverse attendees who rely on screen readers or have difficulty interpreting visuals can access and understand the content. 

Resource: The 5 mistakes in this Alt Text Guide are something we keep in mind when writing alt text here at CDS. Hubspot also has this Image Alt Text article with lots of helpful guidelines and examples to reference.

8. Thoughtful Use of White Space

Incorporate sufficient spacing between elements and paragraphs. White space enhances content digestion, prevents crowding, and enables neurodiverse users to focus on individual pieces of information. 

Resource: When considering whether there is “too much white space” on the page, keep this white space article in mind.

9. Text-to-Speech and Read Aloud Tools

Text-to-speech (TTS) tools allow auditory learners and those with reading challenges to absorb content through their preferred sensory channel. While text-to-speech tools have been around for a long time, there are even more that are currently available with different capabilities and features, such as A.I.-generated voices, which have increasingly made voices sound more natural and human-like.

With the myriad of free and paid tools available and the fact that TTS technology is rapidly evolving with the use of A.I., it’s best that those who need these accommodations find and select the tools that meet their specific needs, preferences, and budget. 

10. Controlled Use of Audio and Video Elements

Similarly, if you include video or audio on your own event webpages, transcripts and captions can support those who may struggle with auditory or visual processing, ensuring they can access and comprehend information effectively. When thinking about including captions in your content, consider the language preferences as well as whether open or closed captions would work best for your audience. To learn more about the pros and cons of open and closed captions, check out this article. 

11. Predictable and Intuitive Forms

image of highlighted form field in focus

Ensure forms follow a logical flow and offer clear instructions, and that there are visual cues like highlighted inputs to help readers know where they are in the form. A step-by-step approach minimizes confusion and frustration for neurodiverse users during data input. 

Resource: We create lots of forms, and we use over-communication and other leading practices listed in this form accessibility article to help make sure they are accessible. 

Additional Resources

We recommend you follow these links to guide your accessibility efforts. 

Summing it Up

Inclusivity isn’t just a checkbox – it’s a commitment to providing a seamless and accessible experience for all.  

By following these best practices, you can create event web pages that cater to a diverse range of attendees, including those who are neurodiverse. 

We hope this information has been useful! Let’s make every event and interaction a platform where neurodiverse attendees can thrive and engage with confidence.