More than 700,000 in the UK alone are autistic, which is more than 1 in 100. Autism has no nationality or cultural barrier and will affect people from all walks of life.
On Autism Awareness Month, we’re investigating the things that businesses can do to make the online experience of those with autism a little easier. How can you change your website to better reflect the needs of those on the autism spectrum?
First of all, it’s important to understand what autism is, and how it affects people. Autism is a spectrum condition, a lifelong developmental disability, that affects how people perceive their surroundings and interact with people around them. Whilst no autistic person is the same, each person varies in condition and severity, they have a number of similar traits.
Many autistic people say that they feel as though the world is overwhelming, which can lead to a significant amount of anxiety. In particular, understanding and relating to other people can be a challenge, making everyday social situations an overwhelming experience.
There are a number of ways that autism is diagnosed, based on a number of factors that are thought to be the main symptoms of autism:
As mentioned above, those who are on the autism spectrum can often have heightened sensitivity to sensory triggers. It’s important to ensure that your website:
Those with autism communicate much differently to those who are not on the spectrum, and it can create a communication error. This is why it’s important, in your web content, to:
Making a website consistent is incredibly important, whilst it’s great for those with autism, it also helps every user navigate your site. So, make sure to:
As previously stated, more than 1 in 100 people are affected by autism that is diagnosed. It is, however, thought that many more people across the UK are left undiagnosed as the severity of it does not warrant a diagnosis. With that, there are still more than 700,000 people who are autistic who may want to access your website.
Whilst it’s always an advantage for those with autism, the above steps are also instrumental in implementing a good user experience, this helps those with or without autism navigate the site. So in a wider sense, you’re not just improving the overall user journey for those on the autism spectrum, but also those who are not.
Finally, building trust amongst autistic users is a massive benefit, if an autistic user finds your website to be suitable to their needs, they won’t change who they use, you’ll find a life-long and committed customer, all by being a bit more accessible.
We appreciate that as a business, you may not have the capacity, resource or expertise to carry out these changes effectively…that’s where we can help. We work with the Shaw Trust Accessibility Services to create accessible digital services for anyone that has disabilities. This includes disabled user testing, using real-life disabled accessibility assessors.
If you want to see how accessible your website is, try out our free website accessibility health check for a no-obligation report on your digital services.