In Types of Disabilities, Part 1, I learned and shared about visual, auditory, and mobility disabilities. In this post I’ll cover the rest of the list, diving deeper into the the categories covered by the Deque material and CPACC Body of Knowledge: cognitive, speech, seizure, psychological, and compound.
Cognitive disabilities are the most common type of disability due to its broad definitions, which include impairments in thinking, language, learning, perception, attention, memory, and problem solving.
Types of cognitive disabilities:
- Neurodevelopmental disorders (autism, Down’s syndrome)
- Memory impairments (Alzheimer’s, dementia)
- Neurodegenerative disorders
- Brain injury impairments (injury, tumors)
- Learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, aphasia)
Causes of cognitive disabilities:
- traumatic injury
- infections / disease
- chemical imbalances
Suggested AT or strategies for improving focus, leveraging learning styles, or accommodating short-term memory:
- screen magnifier
- easily editable/customizable content
- customizable fonts and colors
- screen reader or speak aloud
- interactive transcripts
- blocking animations or flashing elements
- break up long tasks by saving work and doing shorter tasks
Additional reading about cognitive disabilities:
- An Introductory Guide to Understanding Cognitive Disabilities (Deque)
- Cognitive Disabilities (WebAIM)
- WAS Day 53: Users with Cognitive Disabilities
- WAS Day 96: WCAG and Cognitive Disabilities
|Technical problems and errors||
Reading (dyslexia, dysgraphia)
|Letter confusion, such as p b d q||
|Deciphering the way content is presented||
|Difficulty processing visual content||
|Difficulty accurately spelling words||
People with dyscalculia have difficulty understanding or using math based on how their brain functions, as opposed to experiencing a psychologically-induced fear.
|Distinguishing right from left in graphic images||
|Graphs, figures and diagrams (difficult to copy)||
A person with a speech disability may have trouble articulating words or producing speech sounds. Often times people with speech disabilities will use unaided or aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to give them a voice. A person with a speech disability may or may not have additional disabilities. In that case, the same design considerations for blindness, low vision, motor disabilities, auditory disabilities, and cognitive disabilities may need to be used.
Causes of speech disabilities:
- learning disabilities
- auditory disabilities
- motoric disabilities
- traumatic brain injury
Some types of speech disabilities include:
- speech sound disorder (articulation, phonetic)
Suggested AT or strategies for people with speech disabilities:
- touch screens
- alternative keyboards
- single switch devices
- eye-tracking technologies
- speech-generating software
- word prediction software
- symbol boards and languages
- symbol software
- translation software
|Live chats / webinars / teleconferences (voice-based communication)||
|Additional disability (low vision, hard of hearing, etc.)||
|May have mobility issues||
|Additional disability (low vision, hard of hearing)||
|producing speech sounds||
- Rachel Monk: What it’s like to use AAC [YouTube, 1 min]
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Seizures are electrical impulses in the brain that can interfere with information processing or create involuntary muscle movement. Photo-epileptic is one type of seizure.
Causes of seizures:
- brain injury
- sleep deprivation
- drug overdoses or withdrawals
- flashing lights (photo-epileptic)
|intense flashing light, blinking, or flickering||
Psychological disorders encompass a wide range of emotional and mental conditions. When the condition impacts daily life activities, it becomes a disability. Some causes of mental illness may include:
- chemical imbalances
- social factors
Anxiety disorders are the most common of psychological disorders. This disorder manifests itself as fear and worry about situations or objects. A few anxiety disorders are:
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Mood disorders create mood fluctuations in that person. Some subcategories of mood (affective) disorders:
- seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Schizophrenia is broken into two groups: positive (hallucinations and delusions) and negative (lack of motivation, dreary mood, isolating). It’s theorized that this disorder is caused by either genetics, chemical imbalance, or environmental factors. Sometimes people with this disorder can struggle with:
- expressing themselves
- attention and memory deficits
- controlling their movements.
It’s estimated that 2.4 million (1.1%) Americans have schizophrenia. It’s also estimated that 4.9% of people with schizophrenia commit suicide with the average age of the life lost being 28.5 years old.
Additional Resources about Schizophrenia:
- Surviving Schizophrenia [YouTube, 5 minutes]
- I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia [YouTube, 15 minute]
- National Institute of Mental Health: Schizophrenia
Other Psychological Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is categorized as a behavioral disorder. It’s broken up into 3 subcategories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Personality disorders are when people’s behavior deviate from cultural expectations. Two common personality disorders are antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Eating disorders cause concern over food and weight. The 3 most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and compulsive (binge) eating.
It’s possible to have more than one disability. People with multiple disabilities may experience a combination of disabilities (of different degrees) that affect their speech, motor, visual, or hearing abilities. More inclusive accommodations help anyone with multiple disabilities to live life more independently.
Without understanding the people within this multifaceted culture of disability, we can’t create solutions to the challenges they face. Read my other posts from my WAS journey that go further into keeping perspective about the people we are trying to include and serve: