Kiandra Insights

Accessibility for anxiety and panic disorders

Cassie Wallace - Kiandra Head of Software Development
Cassie Wallace
Head of Software Development
October 10, 2022
Cassie Wallace
Head of Software Development
October 10, 2022
Designing for users with anxiety and panic disorders - one part of a series of accessibility criteria by Kiandra

In Australia, around 5 per cent of the population experience panic disorder in their life, and 1 in 5 people experience anxiety. That’s millions and millions of people.

Design and development decisions can directly impact how people with anxiety and/or panic disorders experience your content.

We’ve all bungled up entering credit card details into a form while a ticking timer counts down the time remaining to complete a transaction. The web is full of these tactics, some are designed to convert you, and gain contact details, while others aim to keep you on the site. Some may find this irritating, but this can be debilitating for people with anxiety or panic disorders.

This is a growing field and for a full breakdown of requirements, we encourage you to read the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Essentially, making a website, or software more accessible to those with anxiety or panic disorders, makes your digital spaces more accessible to all, and you’ll reach more people. We’ve put together a list of what to be aware of when designing for users with panic disorders or anxiety.

Anxiety and panic disorders

  • Be mindful of manipulative content that could cause actions performed out of panic, or stress-buying.
  • Avoid negative interactions such as error messages or the ability to get lost in the navigation - these can cause overwhelm.
  • Ensure your architecture is straightforward and intuitive.
  • Don’t rush users with time limits and give enough time to complete actions.
  • Allow users to stop the clock or countdown.
  • Don’t leave users confused or unsure about the next steps, results or timeframes.
  • Don’t leave users uncertain about the consequences of their actions online and explain what will happen after completing an action.
  • Give users the support they need and make it easily accessible.
  • Let users check and revise their responses before they submit a form.
  • Design a clean and minimal design with thoughtful colours, simple fonts and elements.
  • Consider in your design, the emotional response of the user.
  • Warn a user if they are about to consume a triggering video or content.
  • Allow a user to turn auto-play off.
  • Allow a user to manage their notifications and how they are received and displayed.
  • Apply ‘positive friction’ to enable a user to back out of action e.g. recall an email, delay a purchase, or re-submit the information.
  • Use well-established patterns and familiar conventions.

We have created an infograph to help illustrate what to be aware of when designing and developing for people with anxiety or panic disorder: Accessibility for anxiety and panic disorders

If you are keen to reach more people by making your digital assets more accessible, Contact Us today and we can help you make this happen.

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