the aspects relating to the
interaction design domain, we
might build a clear picture of
how neurodiversity HCI might
add to HCI design practice.
• We need to create resources
and educational materials to help
interaction designers be informed
about the many differing cognitive
styles in the user population.
• As part of this process, we
need to understand the impact of
neurodiverse conditions on our
own constituent disciplines. For
example, dyslexia is known to have
a high occurrence in many top
art and design schools. There are
many perceptions in computing
about autistic-spectrum individuals, but we have no clear data on
this. This lack of self-knowledge
needs to be remedied. Knowledge
is needed about how far the design
community is from the actual user
population and how this frames
approaches and problems.
• Human-centered design methods and protocols need to be studied to identify ones that should be
questioned, revised, or remodeled.
• We must start developing
neurodiverse design protocols and
methods—for example, for participatory design and requirements
elicitation—and begin adapting
existing ones maintained by a
strong process of empirical work
and theoretical reflection.
• We need to form collaborations
with the neurodiverse, not just
their caregivers, charities, or other
sources of support. By reaching
out to this group we can engage in
participatory user-centered design.
• We must begin working with
neurodiverse designers and lis-
tening to them. Interaction is
dominated by the neurotypical. By
creating an explicit presence for
neurodiverse designers, we can
reduce the gap between the design
team and target user groups. We
need to encourage neurodiverse
designers and realize their value
beyond inclusive design. For
example, when designing for the
799 million illiterate adults world-
wide, openly dyslexic designers
can contribute a unique critical
perspective to the design team.
fied with just overcoming their
deficiencies. Neurodiversity HCI
should seek ways to exploit the
neurodiverse population’s gifts,
which would also yield benefits to
the greater world.
Neurodiversity is still a relatively young and evolving movement
and is likely to evolve over the next
20 years as much as it has over
the past 20. A new voice is emerging, and we have a duty to listen.
Neurodiversity is not, and has
never been, a new form of political
correctness. It is not a new polite
term to cover a collection of cognitive impairments. It is a mutiny of
the disabled, sometimes striking
at the very charities that exist for
them. As designers of “tools for
thinking with,” practitioners of
neurodiversity HCI should exist as
part of this cognitive insurgency.
I would like to thank Will Farr, Janet
van der Linden, Eva Hornecker, and
Ruth Dalton for their kind comments
1. Armstrong, T. Neurodiversity: Discovering the
Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and
Other Brain Differences. Da Capo, Cambridge,
2. Cooper, R. Dyslexia. In Neurodiversity in Higher
Education: Positive Responses to Specific Learning
Differences. D. Pollak, ed. Wiley-Blackwell,
Chichester, U.K., 2009.
3. Dix, A. The right mind? ACM SIGCHI Bulletin - a
supplement to interactions. ACM, 2001, 6.
4. Finkelstein, V. The social model of disability
repossessed. Coalition: the Magazine of the Greater
Coalition of Disabled People. (Feb. 2002), 10-16.
The neurodiversity literature is
awash with the names of gifted
individuals who also seem to
have experienced many cognitive hindrances: Paul Dirac for
autism and Asperger’s, Mozart and
Shakespeare for ADHD, Einstein
for dyslexia. These are some who
found a way of exploiting their
gifts rather than being satis-
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Sheep Dalton studied engi-
neering design and appropriate
technology at Warwick University.
His Ph.D. was in virtual environ-
ments at UCL, where he also
founded the M.Sc. in virtual envi-
ronments at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He
now is a lecturer and HCI researcher in ubiquitous
computing at the Open University.
March + April 2013
© 2013 ACM 1072-5520/13/03 $15.00