Designing Digital Learning for Neurodivergent Learners

It’s estimated that the global adult population is made up of 10% dyslexic learners, 5% dyspraxic, 4% ADHD, and 1-2% are autistic.

Did you know one in seven people has a neurodivergent condition such as dyslexia, ADHD or autism?

This can mean a lot of your people have different learning needs. When designing digital learning for neurodivergent learners, it is important to remember that everyone’s learning style is unique and should be accommodated as much as possible. Here are some tips on how to make your content accessible to everyone.

  1. Use multiple modes of presentation: People with neurodivergent conditions may have difficulty processing information presented in just one format. Therefore, it is helpful to present information in multiple ways, such as text, audio, and video.
  2. Provide clear instructions: Clear and concise instructions are crucial. Avoid using ambiguous language and provide step-by-step instructions, as well as visual aids, where the story or instructions can be told in pictures rather than words if possible.
  3. Include simple, consistent formatting: formatting in this way can help learners navigate course content more easily and help them understand and feel more comfortable with how the information is presented. Use clear headings and subheadings, bold or italicise important information, and use bullet points to break up long paragraphs.
  4. Use visuals: Visuals can be very helpful because they provide a quick way to process and grasp information. However, you need to be mindful of sensory sensitivities. It’s best to avoid overly bright or flashy graphics as these can cause sensory overload.
  5. Be aware of sensory sensitivities generally: It might not just be visuals that trigger these sensitivities. There can be certain elements within e-learning modules that have to be thought about for neurodivergent learners. It is important to be aware of audio and visual elements. Provide options for adjusting audio and video settings to avoid sudden loud noises or flashing images.
  6. Allow opportunities for interactive activities and repetition: This helps to reinforce learning. Incorporate quizzes, discussions, and other interactive elements into your e-learning content so as not to overwhelm the learners with too much text and reading.
  7. Be flexible with deadlines and assessments: Some neurodivergent learners may require extra time to process information and may need additional support for assessments. For example, people with dyslexia can only process 1-3 pieces of information at one time compared with 5-7 pieces of information for people without dyslexia (The British Dyslexia Association). Be flexible and offer accommodations such as extended deadlines, multiple attempts, or alternative assessments.

By incorporating these tips into your e-learning design, you can create a more inclusive and accessible learning environment for all learners.
I wanted to leave you with the knowledge that it’s estimated that the global adult population is made up of 10% dyslexic learners, 5% dyspraxic, 4% ADHD, and 1-2% are autistic. However, these learners bring a whole different skill set to the table, with their strengths in creativity and ability of big picture thinking, you can set them up for success by following my tips for digital learning.

About the author

Adam Eckersley

Head of digital experiences

I specialise in identifying, designing, delivering, and evaluating digital learning solutions and large-scale strategies for global organisations.