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Can Video Help You Connect With Neurodiverse Audiences?

Amy Onorato 05.20.2019

Everyone is different, and everyone thinks differently — that’s one of the things that makes us inherently human. Differences in opinion, skill sets, and perspectives can provide society with an economy of diverse ideas and practices, leading to better societal outcomes. Fostering an integrated community means creating an environment that is inclusive to all types of cultures, backgrounds and abilities — including neurodiverse populations. 

Neurodiversity is a term coined in the 1990s that is meant to provide a new way of thinking about how society discusses and approaches the treatment of individuals diagnosed with neurological conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, Tourette Syndrome, or brain damage due to injury or illness. The neurodiversity movement promotes inclusivity by promoting education, training, and communication that highlights strengths and celebrates the unique cognitive abilities we all bring to the table.

According to Rethink, it’s estimated that 33 percent of the U.S. population falls under the neurodiverse category. For many neurodiverse people, traditional means of textual or verbal communication can be a barrier. Visual tools like video can help bridge this gap by delivering directions or explaining information in a way that’s easier for neurodiverse individuals to understand and digest.

Creating neurodiverse experiences with video

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, companies are required to ensure their technology and services are accessible online for all audiences. When you think about your content, it’s important to keep this in mind in order to ensure compliance and create a positive brand experience. Consumers are more likely to stop engaging with your brand if they are unable to properly navigate your website, or get the information they need.

Take the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, for example. In order to continue to promote a love of music among all groups, the musicians created a show that was more accessible to neurodiverse communities that become easily overwhelmed when presented with varying degrees of visual and audio stimuli:  

No matter what product or service you offer, inclusion is achievable. Chances are, creating more accessible content will also have a positive impact for neurotypical consumers too, who will benefit from better ease-of-use.

When developing content with a neurodiverse audience in mind, it’s important to:

Be clear and specific

Neurodiverse audiences often respond better when information is laid out in a visual way. Creating a website that provides simple, clear navigation, clean visuals and colors, and specific directions can help here. Explainer videos with captions can also deliver more complex information in an engaging way.

Avoid generalizations

 Some neurodiverse audiences have a hard time processing complex or convoluted verbal instruction. Being clear about goals or instructions can help better direct neurodiverse audiences, and alleviate any anxiety or confusion around a task or process. This is especially important when considering educational or training videos.

Allow time for processing verbal information

Neurodiverse audiences may sometimes need more time to process information. Allow time to answer questions, and provide more clear instructions if necessary.

Neurodiversity in the workplace

In the workplace, hiring neurodiverse candidates can be an advantage by bringing new ways of thinking into your business processes. Neurodiverse employees can bring a new perspective to everyday tasks, and excel at specialized skills and standardized procedures

But developing a more inclusive hiring process can be a challenge for human resources departments. Neurodiverse candidates may have difficulty excelling in traditional interview scenarios, which can impact their ability to showcase their talent to their best ability. This puts businesses at risk for overlooking exceptional talent simply because the interview process was not developed to accommodate to the candidate’s preferred way of communicating.

In these cases, skills-based interviews may be more beneficial for neurodiverse candidates, because they present an environment which allows them to “show” their work, rather than just talk about it.

How video helps

Video is inherently a visual medium, which allows employers to present information or explain complex subjects in a simple and engaging way. For neurodiverse employees, video can be used to explain the interview process in simple steps, which can help ease anxiety or confusion about what is expected of them during the evaluation process. In the early stages of interviewing, explainer video can also be used to help candidates learn more about the company and what it would be like to work there.

“Not everybody is created the same, and not everybody has the same abilities,” Shauna Lozada, director of marketing, business development, and strategic partnerships at AHRC New York City, said. “We’re all really good at some things, but not so good at other things. And I think tailoring the interview process is going to be key to allowing some flexibility.”

Creating more inclusive interview and on-boarding processes also requires a deep understanding of best practices, and implementation of the right programs could take time to achieve the right results, especially when rolling out neurodiversity programs across large-scale enterprise organizations. Part of this process is ensuring that all employees understand how to work with neurodiverse employees.

Internal video training programs can help educate your current employees, train hiring managers and team leaders on best practices, and foster a community of inclusion within your workforce.

Neurodiversity in education

A neurodiverse approach to education can also foster more inclusion within the classroom, elevate learning experiences, and help students succeed by presenting instruction in a way that will allow them to utilize their gifts and excel at projects. Just like in the workplace, project-based instruction and visual aids can “speak” to neurodiverse students in a way that makes sense to them. For example, a neurodiverse student may struggle with written or verbal tests, or confusing, text-heavy instruction, but excel when asked to demonstrate their skills in-person or on the computer.

Using video to connect with neurodiverse audiences

Creating experiences that support neurodiverse audiences can transform the workplace, the classroom, and your brand experiences by celebrating all the different ways people consume and process information. Video can help bridge the gap as a visual medium that can communicate directions, explain processes, or outline tasks in a direct and meaningful way.

At IdeaRocket, we’re committed to helping companies make their workplaces more inclusive for all employees. If you want to learn more about our approach, get in touch here.

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Amy Onorato

Amy Onorato is the Content Manager at IdeaRocket, exploring the wide world of video production, one frame at a time.
Amy Onorato
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