04 - Types of Disabilities - 02

Cognitive Disabilities

Limited comprehension

Difficulty to understand:

  • Metaphors or abstract language
  • Slang or idiomatic epxression

Low tolerance for cognitive overload

Too many choices can cause the user to freeze and they will be unable to work for a while.

Limited problem solving skills

Working with CAPTCHA can be problematic.

Short term memory loss

Long web processes can cause users to forget what they were doing.

Attention deficit

Advertising on the web might be too distracting. The user could forgot why they went to the website. 



Hard to understand complex technical problems
  • Ensure users are alerted to errors
  • Provide clear solutions to fix errors
Hard to understand complex designs
  • Simple, predictable, organized designs
  • Simplify user interface components


Hard to process text heavy information
  • Support text based information with images and other visuals
  • Use simple easy to understand language




Percieved words as floating
  • Special font where similair letters looks differently
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks
Cannot distinguish similair letters - p, b, d, q
  • Change font, contrast or add text underline
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks
Requires additional time to read and process content
  • Can extend time outs 
  • The user can use screen readers which highlight the word or phrase for tracking
  • Enhance visible focus indicators to keep track of their position
  • The user can use special programs or dictionaries which present words with pictures
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks
Hard to decipher the content on the pageApply a custom style sheet
Captcha is hard to solveDeliver option to change the type of problem presented
Difficulties to process content through visual means
  • The user can use a screen reader to get content in an auditory method to reinforce what is being seen
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks
Hard time spelling words correctlyThe user can use a spelling and grammar checker

Math Disabilities

Some users might have a fear when confronting math. It's not caused by intellectual deficit.



Inability to read graphs, diagrams
  • Can use speech-to-text to verbalize instructions for completing homework
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks
Inability to distinguish left and right in images
  • Data table as an alternative to the graph
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks
Inability to perform calculations
  • Provide the user with reference sheet with common equations
  • Onscreen calculator
  • Grant additional time to complete tasks

Speech Disabilities

The inability to produce or organize speech sounds and syllables correctly.

Augmentative and alternative communication

All the different types of communication outside of oral speech that people with speech disabilities can use.



Unable to communicate with voice based technologyProvide text-based alternative solutions such as chat, email, and forms

Seizure Disorders

Erratic electrical impulses in the brain that interfere with a person's ability to process information.

Pokémon cartoon in 1997 sent 685 children to the hospital as a result of an intense scene with flashing lights.

Warning for the designers
Avoid flashing lights to prevent possible injury to the viewers who are sensitive to such stimuli.



Sensitivity to flashing lights
  • Avoid creating animations, videos, and other graphics, that have flashing or strobe-like effects whenever possible
  • If flashing content must be used, flashing should not last for more than three (3) seconds
  • Flicker-free monitors, monitor glare guards, and non-glare glasses

Psychological Disorders

When the mental illness disorder impacts major life activities, it then becomes a disability.


Anxiety disorders

People with anxiety disorders persistently fear or worry about certain situations or objects.

Panic disorder

People who have panic disorder may experience symptoms that closely resemble a heart attack at any time: a fast heart rate, difficulty breathing (hyperventilation), chest pain and dizziness.


Claustrophobia, a fear of enclosed areas; arachnophobia, a fear of spiders.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Anxiety disorder that may occur after a person has been exposed to a terrifying or traumatic event. E.g., war, natural disasters, and other life-threatening events. People with PTSD may have nightmares, flashbacks of the event, feel as if they are experiencing the event again.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

E.g., person has a fear of germs, the person will repeatedly wash his or her hands or repeatedly clean his or her room.

Mood disorders

Erratic changes in a person's mood. Mood disorders can cause mood fluctuations ranging from happiness to sadness.


Prolonged sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities.

Bipolar Disorder

Cycling periods of feeling mania, or highs and happy feelings; and depression, or low, sad feelings.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Affects individuals during the fall and winter months. People with SAD experience depression possibly due to shortened daylight.


Positive schizophrenia

Hallucinations and delusions. People with positive schizophrenia see things and hear voices. 

Negative schizophrenia

Lack of motivation, a dreary mood, and isolating oneself from society.

Other disorders


  • Inattention - difficulty focusing and processing new information, being distracted easily, daydreaming, difficulty organizing and completing a task, and difficulty following instructions
  • Hyperactivity - continuous talking, running around, fidgeting, touching things, and difficulty completing quiet tasks
  • Impulsivity - lack of patience and difficulty waiting on things, shouting unsolicited remarks, difficulty controlling emotions, and interrupting activities or conversations

Personality disorder

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder - no regard for the rights of others and violates the rights of other, fail to conform to social norms and laws, exhibit deceptive behaviors, habitually lie, and act impulsively and recklessly
  • Borderline Personality Disorder - long-term instability in mood, behaviors, relationships and self-image. Impulsive activities like substance or alcohol abuse, and exhibit self-harming or suicidal behaviors.

Eating disorders

  • Anorexia nervosa -  fear for gaining weight
  • Bulimia nervosa -  the person eats a lot of food and then purges the food. The person feels the need to rid him or herself of the food, and does so through vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics, excessively exercising, or fasting.
  • Compulsive, or binge, eating -  is an eating disorder characterized by eating a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time, eating when there is no indication of hunger.


Issues with managing stress
  • Apps to manage mood, stress, and anxiety
  • Guided meditation
Issues with displaying appropriate behaviour
  • Behavior chart
  • Point sheets
  • Goal tracking
  • Positive reinforcement and rewards

Multiple Disabilities

Combination of two or more disabilities that may involve speech, motor, visual and hearing impairments, as well as a learning disability or an intellectual disability.



Related posts

Say hi


View my CV

Accessibility certificate