Cognitive Disabilities

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Cognitive Disabilities

Cognitive disabilities include an extremely wide variety of disabilities that can be genetic, neurological, or learning and communication disorders.

People with cognitive disabilities will have one or more problems with:

  • memory
  • problem-solving
  • attention
  • reading, linguistic, and verbal comprehension
  • math comprehension
  • visual comprehension

Examples of cognitive disabilities include:

  • autism
  • seizures
  • traumatic brain injury
  • attention deficit disorder
  • learning disabilities
  • reading and dyslexia
  • short-term memory disabilities


A cognitive disability may not affect the intelligence of a person, but it can slow down or interfere with their ability to focus on visual or audible content, or to quickly understand what they are reading, watching, or hearing.

Assistive Technology for People with Cognitive Disabilities

Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.

Some examples of assistive technology that can be helpful to those with cognitive disabilities are:

  • Giving users additional time to complete tasks: Extra time can be helpful for many people with cognitive disabilities. This is especially an issue when it comes to time-out meters for online forms.


  • Using special weighted fonts: Weighted fonts can be more readable to people with dyslexia.


  • Avoiding auto-play: Unexpected motion can be startling to some users. So it’s best to avoid having videos automatically play when opening a page. Or provide a control to pause it.


  • Using plain language: Using plain language benefits everyone, by keeping sentences short, and breaking content into smaller chunks for better comprehension.


  • Implementing Predictable Navigation: Moving things around arbitrarily tends to disorient users. Putting elements such as navigation or the search box in the same place on every page makes it easier for everyone to locate and identify them.


  • Avoiding cognitive overload: Unexpected motion can be startling to some users. It’s best to avoid having videos automatically play when opening a page (or at least provide a control to pause it).


  • Avoiding flashing objects: Objects flashing more than 3x per second can induce epileptic seizures.