<  Back

701 Designing for Neurodiversity: The Dos, the Don’ts & the Definitely Nots

2:45 PM - 3:45 PM
Thursday, April 21

Tracks: Instructional Design

Interest in accessibility, usability, and inclusivity has surged in recent years, but Section 508 and the WCAG guidelines don’t tell the full story of how to accommodate neurodiverse learners. And, chances are you have far more neurodiverse learners than you think you do, because disabilities are underreported in general, and neurodiversity is invisible and often not diagnosed (particularly in women). At the same time, most of the advice available today on designing for neurodiverse learners comes from a neurotypical perspective, which can lack understanding and empathy. Sometimes even the expressed preferences of the autistic community are ignored. But to be truly learner-centered in your design process, you must be able to see from your learners’ point of view.

In this session, you’ll go on tours of two learning experiences: one synchronous/instructor-led class, and one eLearning course. We will discuss the impact of design choices on neurodiverse learners. During the session, you’ll also learn a layperson’s definition of autism and ADHD and how they affect individuals’ interactions with the world. You’ll learn about the social model of disability and how to apply it to your way of thinking about design. And you’ll see the effects of non-inclusive design decisions and how they can make learning experiences less effective or even disastrous for neurodiverse learners. Most importantly, you’ll see how changes in your planning and design can make learning experiences more inclusive, more accessible, and more effective for neurodiverse learners, as well as more usable and cohesive for all.

In this session, you will learn:

  • What neurodiversity is and how neurodiverse individuals interact with the world
  • Why typical instructor-led and self-study learning experiences are less effective for neurodiverse learners
  • Why you should shift your mindset from a medical model of disability to the more inclusive social model
  • How you can make design decisions that accommodate the needs of all your learners regardless of neurotype

Judy Katz

Product Manager

PeBL Pro

Judy Katz makes stuff that helps people learn. She is a strategist, designer, and developer, as well as a frequent speaker and writer. She has worked in the field of learning and development since 1997 and holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas, an MBA from Baker University, and an MEd in instructional design with a focus on workplace learning from UMass-Boston.