Holly Schroeder talks about working memory and ADD

Holly Schroeder says she navigates away immediately if a page is too busy. Too much stimuli overwhelms her. She can’t process the information properly, and that interferes with her ability to complete what she was trying to do in the first place!



Tenon

Thanks to Tenon for sponsoring the transcript for this episode.

Transcript

Nic

Hi, I’m Nic ┬áSteenhout. And you’re listening to the accessibility rules soundbite, a series of short podcasts, where disabled people explain their impairments and what barriers they encounter on the web. First, I need to thank Tenon for sponsoring the transcript for this episode. Tenon provides accessibility as a service. They offer testing, training, and tooling to help fix accessibility, fast. So today I’m speaking with Holly Schroeder. Hi, Holly, how are you?

Holly

I’m great. Thanks for having me today.

Nic

Thanks for being on this is going to be fun. So the format of the show is the same as usual, three questions. And the first one is maybe not the easiest. What is your disability or impairment, Holly?

Holly

Well, that’s a little bit of a trick question for me. I have multiple disabilities. And today, I think we’re gonna focus on my working memory disability and ADD, and how that impacts my web experience.

Nic

All right, I think you were saying to me that there is a link between what’s happening between ADD and your working memory, one makes it worse than the other, I think.

Holly

I feel like it’s really hard to separate them sometimes. So when I’m trying to, you know, if I go to a website, whether I’m on a mobile device, or I’m actually on a desktop computer or a laptop, if there is a lot of busy content on a website, whether you know if it’s visually busy, or if it’s got, you know, just lots of color, or if there’s motion, that can be… I get overstimulated very easily. And so it can make it really difficult for me to focus on whatever it is they are wanting me to focus on. And then the working memory comes in, when I’m trying to complete tasks that I’m wanting to do. So maybe I go to a website, and I’m wanting to get the phone number for something. If they don’t have a clickable link, and I need to try and remember the phone number so that I can dial it on my phone. It might take me five attempts to complete that task if I don’t have pen and paper handy.

Nic

Wow. That’s, you know, that’s, I think it might be more common than people think. But it’s such a big thing that we don’t necessarily think about.

Holly

Yeah, and there’s certain things like parallax effects really, almost make me feel seasick.

Nic

Yeah. parallax is is a big thing I spoke with Julia Ferraioli about that a while back, and, yeah, so many people have physical reactions. You know, it’s it’s a problem when your web design starts making people physically sick.

Holly

Exactly. I think a lot of people know, okay, we can’t use Blinky things, because that could cause a seizure. But they don’t think about the impact of maybe having I’m thinking about one website in particular, they had a video clip on their homepage. And it was a sped up version of a networking event. And I literally had to scroll further down on the page. Because just having that motion made me feel off kilter. It was like being carsick.

Nic

Yeah, that’s no good. Holly, I think we’ve actually answered the question before I asked a question about your greatest barrier, would you say these combination of you know working memory and ADD and clickable elements and movable parts, would you say that’s your greatest barriers related to these conditions? Or do you have another greatest barrier that you think is more more important?

Holly

I think that it really comes in to play with those two particular things. One, if I will navigate away immediately if something is very visually busy, whether it’s got its movement or color or design that’s just kind of cramped. It’s just too too much stimuli all at once I get really overwhelmed feeling. And then I, it’s like it. Like I can’t process properly. And then that interferes with task completion for whatever it was I was trying to do when I went there in the first place. And if I’m trying to go to a website, because I’m wanting to read, I’m a researcher, so I’m wanting to research something, and I’m kind of collecting information as I go, that working memory can become really a big barrier if they have that information architecture and the website isn’t intuitive. Because I have to try and remember, what this kind of unconventional structure is that they have. And then I might have to go relearn it in the same session, because I already forgot it.

Nic

Yeah, that makes sense. Holly, thank you. Let’s close by asking you what one message would you have for designers or developers of digital products?

Holly

I think the one thing that is most important is that there be a greater emphasis on inclusion and accessibility. When it comes to development. I know I took, I did a web development boot camp myself. And the topic of you know, how to make your code accessible wasn’t even addressed. I think that, you know, if you are someone who does web development, and you know how to do you know how, how to properly use headings, and how to use alt text and those kind of things. Teach your colleagues, you know, be vocal about it, be an ally in your workplace, and include it in your code. It doesn’t take much effort on the part of the person who’s doing the code to include those things. But it’s a big lift to go back and try and correct it later. So it’s a win for everyone if we if we put a greater emphasis on a prior to development.

Nic

Thank you. I wish more people paid attention to that. Holly Schroeder, thank you so much for being a great guest. That’s it for now. Thanks for listening, folks. If you enjoyed this accessibility to soundbite Please support the show on Patreon https://patreon.com/steenhout