I had a chance to talk with Adam Mico and Hunter Hansen shortly after their presentation on neurodiversity at The Fringe Festival. The Fringe Festival is a community-organized event to give people a platform who may not have opportunities to participate in mainstream circuits. Anyone who knows Adam and Hunter knows that they are very active within the data community. They are both data visualization and analytics professionals by day who are also neurodiversity advocates by life. Neurodiversity is a viewpoint that brain differences are normal rather than deficits. The idea of neurodiversity can reduce the stigma with learning and thinking differences. It can help frame challenges as differences, rather than as deficits. It can also shed light on instructional approaches that might help to highlight particular strengths neurodiverse individuals have.
In “Neurodiversity and Data,” Hunter discusses that the qualities of good design are intuitive, accessible, and unobtrusive. He explains that while neurodivergent people can be hyper-focused and excel at pattern recognition, dashboard layouts should not be cluttered for example. They should be clear, concise, and consistent.
Adam discusses autism myth busters that debunk the theory that autistic people can’t navigate, thrive or contribute to a community. In “The DataFam and Autism: A Match Made in Data” he describes how the DataFam is focused on supporting Tableau users and deliberately inclusive. He encourages autistic people to create either a free Tableau Public profile to start vizzing or a data viz blog to start writing and sharing ideas. Both of these activities will help newcomers engage with the tight-knit community!