All autistic people can benefit from access to appropriate services, including accessible web-based services. This guidance is for web professionals who want to make sure that their site is suitable for autistic people.

Best practice

Follow current accessibility and plain English guidelines, as well as the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and Northern Ireland equality legislation.

Sensory issues

Autistic people often have heightened sensory awareness, and so can find busy pages overwhelming. It is particularly important to:

  • have a clean and uncluttered design
  • avoid movement unless the moving elements can be frozen by the user.

Consistency

As autistic people tend to need consistency:

  • ensure that navigation mechanisms are consistent in appearance and behaviour
  • ensure that the relative importance of different sections (across the site and within pages) is indicated in a consistent way
  • make links obvious – don't make the user wonder what may or may not be a link.

Communication

Autistic people are more likely to take things literally and to benefit from visual material. It can be helpful to:

  • provide visual alternatives to textual material
  • avoid the use of metaphors, exaggeration, ambiguous language or turns of phrase that may have more than one meaning.

Personalisation

Consider an element of personalisation, as autistic people are all different. 

User testing

Include autistic people in your user testing, and support them to take part by:

  • clearly defining the purpose of the research
  • sending copies of any paperwork in advance
  • inviting participants to visit the venue beforehand so they can familiarise themselves with it, take photos, and tell you about anything in the environment that might cause them sensory distraction
  • making adjustments for autistic participants, such as doing the testing in a different room
  • basing discussions on experience and current circumstances, rather than abstract concepts or hypothetical situations
  • presenting questions as defined options or closed questions.

If you are doing research into the specific user needs of autistic people in the web environment, we would very much like to hear from you. Please contact webmanager@nas.org.uk.

Further information

Last reviewed 21 September 2016