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ADHD Accessibility: Designing Apps for Focus

Jan 9, 2024

ADHD oftentimes gets disregarded in terms of accessibility, despite its potential to notably affect an individual's capacity to interact with digital material. ADHD Accessibility, a critical consideration in digital design, plays a vital role in shaping a more inclusive and accommodating online environment for those with ADHD. In this blog post, we will delve into various aspects of designing and implementing accessible solutions for adults with ADHD, ensuring their needs are met and their experiences enhanced.

We will discuss the importance of prioritizing predictability and simplicity in design by adhering to WCAG 2.2 Success Criterion 3.3.2 and reducing distractions caused by interactive controls or bright colors. Furthermore, we'll explore how form structures and organization tools can be optimized for users with difficulty focusing due to ADHD.

In addition to these design principles, catering to sensory sensitivities is crucial in creating an inclusive environment for individuals living with ADHD. Offering customizable color schemes such as dark mode options, and adjustments in font size or style preferences can make a significant difference in usability.

Stay tuned as we also cover strategies on supporting students affected by adult ADHD in school environments, mindfulness practices tailored specifically for managing stressors associated with ADHD, and addressing co-occurring conditions affecting accessibility through innovative tools like assistive toolbars or integrated dictionary features within cloud-based software, all while emphasizing the significance of accessibility ADHD in these efforts.

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Table of Contents

Prioritizing Predictability and Simplicity in Design

Creating an inclusive digital environment for adults with ADHD requires a focus on predictability and simplicity in design. By adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developers can ensure that their applications are user-friendly, especially for those who have difficulty focusing.

Adhering to WCAG 2.2 Success Criterion 3.3.2 for user input requirements

The WCAG 2.2 Success Criterion 3.3.2 emphasizes the importance of providing clear labels or instructions when users need to input information into forms or fields within an application or website. This is crucial for individuals with ADHD, who may struggle with memory recall and organization.


  • Use descriptive field labels that clearly indicate what information is required.
  • Avoid using jargon or abbreviations that might be confusing.
  • Incorporate helpful tooltips or examples where appropriate.

Adhering to WCAG 2.2 Success Criterion 3.3.7: Redundant Entry

Success Criterion 3.3.7: Redundant Entry, a key component of WCAG 2.2, outlines essential guidelines for enhancing digital inclusivity. The criterion advises against requesting identical information within the same session and stresses the importance of providing data from previous steps in a process. This approach recognizes that people with cognitive disabilities, such as those with ADHD and challenges in working memory, may find it hard to remember information they've already entered (source). It's especially important to lessen the mental effort, known as cognitive load, in the case of ADHD. Following these guidelines is crucial for making digital spaces more accessible and easy to use for everyone.


  • Don't ask for the same information twice in the same session.
  • Provide data from a previous step in a process

Reducing distractions caused by numerous interactive controls, bright colors, or excessive links

To maintain focus while navigating through a digital platform, it's essential to minimize potential distractions such as multiple interactive elements, overly vibrant color schemes, and cluttered layouts filled with unnecessary links.


  1. Select a simple color palette that doesn't strain the eyes but still provides sufficient contrast between text and background colors.

2. Leverage whitespace effectively to create visual separation between content sections and reduce cognitive overload.

3. Restrict the number of interactive components on a page to only those required for navigation.

Incorporating these design principles significantly enhances the accessibility and usability of applications and websites for adults with ADHD, fostering a more inclusive digital environment.

Form Structures and Organization Tools for Users with ADHD

When designing applications for adults with ADHD, it's crucial to consider form structures carefully. Streamlining forms by grouping related fields together can help avoid confusion and frustration. Forgetfulness is a frequent problem for those diagnosed with ADHD, so it's critical to consider form structures carefully when designing applications tailored for them.

Auto-save Feature

Another thing to consider when designing applications for adults with ADHD is incorporating an auto-save feature. People with ADHD are prone to distractions, and having an auto-save feature becomes a valuable asset in safeguarding users' progress. This functionality acts as a fail-safe, automatically preserving their work at regular intervals. Given the inherent challenge of distraction for individuals with ADHD, the auto-save feature ensures a seamless experience. Users can effortlessly resume their tasks, mitigating stress and cultivating a more user-friendly environment.

Additionally, integrating tools like Google calendar, reminders, task prioritization, and deadline alerts, as seen in Focus Bear, improves organization and aids focus management.

Task Prioritization

Allowing users to rank tasks based on importance helps them focus on what needs immediate attention while also providing a sense of accomplishment when completing high-priority items.

Deadline Reminders

Sending notifications before deadlines approach ensures that users are aware of upcoming responsibilities and have ample time to prepare without feeling overwhelmed.

Besides calendars and reminders, other organization tools can be beneficial in addressing the unique challenges faced by adults with ADHD. These may include:

Note-taking Apps

Note-taking apps, such as Evernote, allow users to jot down ideas quickly whenever inspiration strikes.

To-do List Apps

To-do list apps, like Todoist, enable easy tracking of tasks alongside customizable categories.

Pomodoro Timers

Pomodoro timers break work into manageable intervals, promoting focus and productivity. The Focus Bear app is an excellent choice for harnessing this technique, thanks to its built-in Pomodoro feature.

Incorporating these organization tools within an app like Focus Bear can significantly improve the user experience for adults with ADHD, helping them stay organized and focused throughout their day. By catering to their specific needs, we can create more inclusive digital environments that empower individuals living with ADHD to thrive both personally and professionally.

Key Takeaway:

Designing applications for adults with ADHD involves thoughtful considerations such as streamlining forms, integrating calendars and reminders, prioritizing tasks, setting deadline reminders, using note-taking apps, to-do list apps, and pomodoro timers. Additionally, the incorporation of an auto-save feature acts as a vital component, seamlessly preserving users' progress and contributing to an enhanced, stress-free digital experience. These features collectively foster a more organized and focused daily routine for individuals with ADHD.

Catering Towards Sensory Sensitivities of Individuals Living With ADHD

For those who struggle with difficulty focusing, browsing online platforms can be a daunting task. It's important to consider sensory sensitivities often reported by individuals living with adult ADHD when designing websites or apps.

Customizable Color Schemes Including Dark Mode Option

Adults with ADHD may find it challenging to concentrate on digital content presented in vivid colors or very bright settings, as they can be particularly sensitive to visual stimuli. To address this issue, developers should offer customizable color schemes, including a dark mode option that reduces glare and eye strain. This feature allows users to choose a comfortable viewing environment tailored specifically for their needs.

Adjustments in Font Size or Style Preferences

Allowing users the ability to adjust font size and style is another essential aspect of catering towards sensory sensitivities associated with adult ADHD. Larger fonts may be easier for some individuals to read, while others might prefer specific typefaces that are more legible than standard ones provided within applications by default.

  • Serif vs Sans-serif: Some people find serif fonts (e.g., Times New Roman) harder to read than sans-serif fonts (e.g., Arial). Offering both options gives users the flexibility they need.
  • Dyslexia-friendly Fonts: For those who struggle with reading, dyslexia-friendly fonts can make a significant difference in their ability to process information.
  • Font Size Options: Providing users with the option to increase or decrease font size allows them to choose what works best for their specific needs and preferences, further enhancing accessibility.

By implementing these features within applications like Focus Bear, adults with ADHD will be able to complete tasks more efficiently and effectively while reducing stress associated with difficulty focusing.

Key Takeaway:

Digital accessibility for individuals with ADHD is enhanced through customizable color schemes, font size and style preferences, and dark mode options, catering to users' unique needs. Such features, as demonstrated by apps like Focus Bear, contribute to task efficiency and stress reduction.

Supporting Students Affected By Adult ADHD In School Environments

Understanding the unique needs of students affected by adult ADHD both inside and outside school environments is vital. These students often struggle with difficulty focusing due to low confidence levels and heightened sensitivity to external stimuli like noise and visual disturbances. To support these students, schools can implement various strategies that cater to their specific learning requirements.

Create an Accommodating Classroom Environment

An essential aspect of supporting students with ADHD is creating a classroom environment that minimizes distractions while promoting focus. This could include arranging desks in a way that reduces visual clutter or providing noise-cancelling headphones for those sensitive to auditory distractions. Additionally, incorporating classroom strategies recommended by CHADD, such as preferential seating or using visual aids, can further enhance the learning experience for these individuals.

Implement Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Students with ADHD may benefit from having an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which outlines specific accommodations tailored to their needs. A collective group consisting of educators, parents and other specialists engaged in the student's educational process collaborate to form an IEP. Some common IEP accommodations for students with ADHD might include extended time on tests, modified assignments, or access to assistive technology tools.

Promote Time Management Skills

  • Break down tasks: Encourage students to break larger tasks into smaller steps so they feel less overwhelmed when approaching assignments.
  • Create routines: Establishing consistent routines can help students with ADHD manage their time more effectively and reduce the likelihood of forgetting important tasks.
  • Use visual schedules: Providing a visual schedule that outlines daily activities can serve as a helpful reminder for students who struggle with organization or memory.

Incorporate Assistive Technology Tools

There are numerous assistive technology tools available to support students with ADHD in their academic pursuits. For example, apps specifically designed for individuals with ADHD, such as Focus Bear, can help users stay on track throughout the day by providing reminders and organizational assistance tailored to their needs.

Key Takeaway:

Supporting students with adult ADHD involves creating distraction-minimized classroom environments, individualized education plans, and promoting effective time management skills. The use of specialized apps for ADHD individuals offers organizational support and reminders, collectively enhancing the learning experience.

Addressing Co-occurring Conditions Affecting Accessibility

Individuals with ADHD often face co-occurring conditions that can affect how they interact with digital content. These challenges can include learning disabilities, difficulties in information processing, and other cognitive barriers. To ensure an inclusive digital environment for these individuals, it's crucial to explore tools and features that can assist them in overcoming these challenges.

Enhancing Readability with Assistive Toolbars

Integrating an assistive toolbar is a powerful strategy for improving the readability of online content. These toolbars offer customizable options, including font size, style, color contrast, and spacing adjustments. Additionally, they provide options for compatibility with screen readers and keyboards.

These customizable features contribute to a more comfortable reading experience, particularly beneficial for individuals with ADHD. By reducing visual stress and enhancing comprehension, the implementation of intelligent technology through assistive toolbars plays a crucial role in making online content significantly more accessible and user-friendly for those with ADHD.

Examples of these toolbars include Recite Me and AccessiBe, both of which seamlessly integrate the mentioned features.

Integrated Dictionary and Thesaurus Features within Cloud-based Software

Incorporating built-in dictionary and thesaurus features into cloud-based software can significantly aid users facing language comprehension challenges due to ADHD or co-existing conditions like dyslexia. 

A practical example of this is seen in Windows 10 1809, also known as the October 2018 Update, which includes a built-in dictionary accessible through the Microsoft Edge browser for looking up definitions while reading web articles, PDFs, or eBooks. Such integrated tools streamline the user experience by eliminating the need to switch between multiple applications, making content more accessible, especially for individuals with ADHD.

By incorporating these tools into digital platforms, developers contribute to a more inclusive and accessible environment for individuals living with ADHD. Furthermore, developers must remain committed to upholding WCAG 2.1 guidelines throughout the app creation process to ensure comprehensive accessibility for all users.

Key Takeaway:

Addressing the challenges of individuals with ADHD and co-occurring conditions requires exploring tools for digital accessibility. AccessiBe's smart technology, exemplified by the accessWidget tool, revolutionizes web accessibility by enhancing website visuals and optimizing for screen readers and keyboard navigation. Additionally, integrating built-in dictionary and thesaurus features into cloud-based software, as demonstrated in Windows 10 1809 through the Microsoft Edge browser, streamlines language comprehension, contributing to a more inclusive digital environment, with developers' adherence to WCAG 2.1 guidelines ensuring comprehensive accessibility.

FAQs in Relation to Accessibility ADHD

How can digital content creators enhance accessibility for individuals with ADHD?

Content creators can enhance accessibility by using clear and concise language, providing organized and structured content, incorporating visual aids, and offering options for customization such as font size and color contrast.

What role do alternative text descriptions play in improving web and app accessibility for individuals with ADHD?

Alternative text descriptions are crucial for users with ADHD, as they provide quick and concise information about images. This helps users understand content without relying solely on visual elements, improving overall comprehension and efficiency.

How can app developers address attention-related challenges by designing interactive features?

Developers can address attention-related challenges by incorporating interactive features that provide immediate feedback, using clear and concise language in prompts, and allowing users to customize notification preferences to minimize distractions.

Are there specific features that can help users with ADHD maintain focus while using web and mobile applications?

Features such as a "focus mode" that minimizes non-essential elements on the screen, the ability to turn off animations, and providing progress indicators for tasks can help users with ADHD stay engaged and focused on the task at hand.

How can app developers collaborate with neurodivergent communities to gather insights for creating more accessible digital experiences?

Developers can actively engage with neurodivergent communities through user forums, feedback sessions, and partnerships with advocacy organizations. This collaborative approach allows developers to gain valuable insights and ensure that their products meet the diverse needs of individuals with ADHD.


Prioritizing "ADHD Accessibility" in design is essential for individuals with ADHD, emphasizing predictability and simplicity for streamlined forms and tools. Customizable color schemes, font adjustments, and dark mode cater to sensory sensitivities, while mindfulness practices, including guided meditation, aid in managing stressors.

Jan 9, 2024

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