S1:E9 - How to Develop for Neurodiversity and Universal Design

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There are a lot of ways that the tech world is failing when it comes to employing and developing for those who are neurodivergent. We speak with Heidi Waterhouse, senior developer advocate at LaunchDarkly, and Lydia X.Z. Brown, Policy Counsel for the Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Adjunct Professor for Georgetown University's Disability Studies Program, about neuraldiversity and what tech could be doing better when it comes to universal design and accessibility.

Show Notes

Lydia X. Z. Brown

Lydia X. Z. Brown is an advocate, organizer, strategist, educator, writer, and attorney working for disability justice and liberation. For over a decade, their work has focused on building solidarity-based communities and addressing the root causes of interpersonal and state violence targeting disabled people, especially those at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and violence.

Heidi Waterhouse

Heidi is an experienced professional communicator deeply invested in getting information to people who need it in the easiest way for everyone involved. Sometimes that involves public speaking, blog posts, and technical writing, but at one point she had a lively cutlery-based description of full-disk encryption. She has realized that the best way to scale her philosophy of simple and empathic communication is to teach others, so she is working on a book on technical writing for developers and other reluctant technologists.

Episode source

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Thank you for this great episode of DevDiscuss! I have learned a lot.

Universal design is an iterative and constantly fluid process.

As a web developer, I was taught to always put an alt tag to an image and use semantic HTML. But apparently, there is so much more we can do about web accessibility and it is worth our time to learn about them.

Develop a better web for a better world.


Here's the show on Spotify:


Hasn't hit Apple Podcasts yet.


You guys did a really great job on this episode. I'm always a bit shied away from a11y talks on conferences or in podcasts but this episode was pretty insightful because it wasn't in your face with all these things that you "need" to do "right now". It shared some good insights on the process and some realism on the fact that it's not as simple as implementing some features for screenreaders.


Wanted to add. There are some pretty good pointers in here for working, living or being friends with people who think or function differently. The "living or being friends with" might have been unintentionally but will come in handy so thanks for that!

Sidenote: I do feel weird, all the time. Haha.


I really liked this episode!

I'm a web developer, and as a beginner I was always taught to use the basic accessibility features and never bothered to do any more. But I guess I was wrong. Thanks for the awesome info!


Great episode, checked the sponsors and started working with the tools (specially Commerce.js), did not know all details about Heroku, great tool.
Totally agree on the comment on different brain configurations, have always thought we all have different capabilities and skills, we just need to identify what best works for each one of us. It's like the saying: "Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid"


. It shared some good insights on the process and some realism on the fact that it's not as simple as implementing some features for screenreaders.,the fact about identical brains was fascinating


Much more informative and really loved this!


i learned a lot from this podcasts series


Amazing and informative ✌🏻


I'm very glad that I learnt a lot from this episode. Really loved it!