Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

Designing for people with dyscalculia or low numeracy

Laura Parker
March 24, 2023

Designing for people with dyscalculia or low numeracy

Laura Parker

March 24, 2023

More Decks by Laura Parker

Other Decks in Design


  1. #ServicesWeek “I have dyscalculia so I need to check the

    numbers I enter at least twice. This makes me feel nervous on your website.”
  2. #ServicesWeek “I am dyscalculic, so figures and number calculations are

    challenging. I have just about come to terms with dealing with HMRC through the internet and have all my codes filed carefully and readily to hand. I dread yet another layer of 'security' being added.”
  3. #ServicesWeek What is dyscalculia? Dyscalculia (dis - cal - coo

    - lia) is a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers. People with dyscalculia have: • poor sense of numbers, number estimation and telling the time • low mental arithmetic skills • high level of maths anxiety • difficulties with working memory (remembering items on a shopping list, phone numbers, game scores) Many adults are unaware they have dyscalculia, but know that they ‘struggle with numbers’.
  4. #ServicesWeek Dyscalculia is under diagnosed About 1 in 20 people

    have dyscalculia in the UK. As a comparison, about 1 in 10 to 20 people have dyslexia. Low numeracy affects half of the working-age adults in the UK. That’s nearly 17 million people. 1 in 5 people say they would avoid jobs that involve frequent use of numbers. A Financial Conduct Authority 2020 survey found that people who had fallen into debt felt it might have been avoided if they had understood their options better.
  5. #ServicesWeek Living with dyscalculia • Barrier for accessing further education,

    jobs • Overpaying for shopping and not spotting mistakes • Being late and missing appointments • Missing trains, busses and even flights • Confusing units of measurement • Avoiding using cash at all costs • Distances • Keeping count • Accessing online service • Embarrassment, anxiousness about numbers, getting ‘found out’
  6. #ServicesWeek Dyscalculia poster • Raise awareness of dyscalculia • Make

    services accessible to people with dyscalculia • Provide general guidance rather than being overly prescriptive • Provide evidence for people who want to make design changes • Hosted on the DWP accessibility manual in HTML and PDF
  7. I'm working on digital accessibility at an accountancy firm and

    needed exactly this! Love this. I'm one of the one in twenty. I struggle with all the do not's. Brilliant to see this. I think it's the first guidance I've seen, which is helpful to dyscalculia. Great to raise awareness about neurodiversity in general too. I have dyscalculia and this is the first design advice I have ever seen on it. And I'd say it's bang on. I have always struggled with numbers. Most of the time, I just can’t get my head around them and manual calculations are a massive struggle. “ “ “ “ “
  8. #ServicesWeek Round numbers to the nearest whole number Simplifying the

    numbers by rounding them to the nearest whole number, helps reduce the effort it takes for someone to understand your content. If your content displays numbers as an exact amount in money, then using decimals to show pounds and pence is OK. Example from a utility bill from the Plain Numbers report.
  9. #ServicesWeek Leave space around numbers Research shows that it’s easier

    for people to understand content when there are fewer digits on the page.
  10. #ServicesWeek Fill in the information you already have Do not

    expect people to remember or repeat numbers. Many people with dyscalculia have issues with working memory, so remembering numbers is difficult. Let technology work for users, especially if you keep information in a system somewhere.
  11. #ServicesWeek Use sentences to add context about numbers Only use

    tables or grids if you explain what the numbers mean. When numbers are presented in sentences, people find it easier to understand utility bills and payment plans. Adding context helps to make the meaning clearer. Example from Plain Numbers report.
  12. #ServicesWeek Do not rush people to enter numbers Forcing people

    to do sums to verify identity is likely to exclude them. Instead, tell people about a different way to complete the task which doesn’t involve entering numbers, like using face recognition. Avoid setting time limits because people might make more attempts to enter numbers accurately.
  13. #ServicesWeek Research with people who struggle with numbers Include people

    with dyscalculia when researching and testing your product or service but don’t ask for their help for free. Some people know they struggle with numbers but don’t know they have dyscalculia. Use professor Tom Hunt’s maths anxiety opening discussion questions.
  14. #ServicesWeek Check out these links • What is dyscalculia? •

    Dyscalculia poster • Plain Numbers report • The difference between dyslexia and dyscalculia • The Dyscalculia Network Follow us on Twitter: • @mcfadyen_jane • @LauraParkerUX • @GirlCalledMalic