A grade-school child joins a virtual lesson with a teacher, pictured on the laptop screen.
A grade-school child joins a virtual lesson with a teacher, pictured on the laptop screen.

As we begin 2021, Understood is predicting changes ahead for people with learning and thinking differences and disabilities. This is part four of a four-part expert series on our 2021 predictions.

The pandemic has exposed a lot of gaps in our education system. It’s creating a crisis for students — academically, and also in terms of mental health.

Teachers have been asking for better mental health support for students for a long time. That includes training for themselves in social and emotional learning (SEL). …


A woman works from home on her laptop while her partner provides childcare in the living room in the background.
A woman works from home on her laptop while her partner provides childcare in the living room in the background.

As we begin 2021, Understood is predicting changes ahead for people with learning and thinking differences and disabilities. This is part three of a four-part expert series on our 2021 predictions.

In 2020, most workplaces became more flexible. They had to. When COVID hit, everyone needed to find new ways to stay safe. Remote work, staggered shifts, flexibility with sick time — pandemic accommodations were suddenly the norm.

Today, more companies understand the value of meeting their employees’ needs. They’ve seen the benefits of accommodations. That’s why we think 2021 will be the year when disability inclusion finally takes hold.

During the pandemic, companies have discovered that there can be more than one way to get things done — and that results matter more than process. …


A middle school student in a yellow dress with blue polka-dots uses headphones while working at a laptop.
A middle school student in a yellow dress with blue polka-dots uses headphones while working at a laptop.

As we begin 2021, Understood is predicting changes ahead for people with learning and thinking differences and disabilities. This is part two of a four-part expert series on our 2021 predictions. (Read part one here.)

By Kim Greene

We all knew that distance learning would take a toll on students. Now, it’s becoming painfully clear how far behind some kids have fallen in 2020, especially students of color and those with disabilities.

It’s also clear that some students won’t bounce back right away. That’s why most educators will spend most of 2021 focused on helping students catch up. It’s going to be a tough task with typical learners. …


Two men stand in a kitchen, one of whom holds a small child and gesticulates toward a laptop open on the kitchen island.
Two men stand in a kitchen, one of whom holds a small child and gesticulates toward a laptop open on the kitchen island.

As we begin 2021, Understood is predicting changes ahead for people with learning and thinking differences and disabilities. This is part one of a four-part expert series on our 2021 predictions.

As we approach the new year, lots of parents are understandably focused on the present. For many, it’s not a good place to be. In addition to the day-to-day stress of balancing school, childcare, and work in a pandemic, they’re watching their children fall farther and farther behind in school.

Research confirms what some families have seen at home: Remote learning has been detrimental for many children. That’s particularly true for kids of color and kids with disabilities. …


The author, Amanda Morin, smiles in her home and wears a t-shirt that reads “I meant to say it… just not out loud.
The author, Amanda Morin, smiles in her home and wears a t-shirt that reads “I meant to say it… just not out loud.

By Amanda Morin

With the coronavirus pandemic, all of us are experiencing loss of some kind. Many people have lost loved ones. Others have lost jobs. Some losses have been larger than others, but the common thread is that we’re all feeling a collective sense of loss and lack of control over our lives.

For me, the biggest loss has been my ability to handle “cognitive load” — to move information around quickly and multitask with precision. My thoughts are still moving quickly, but not very productively.

Usually, my brain works like a satellite overview of a map: I see all the possible routes, detours, and end destinations. I can juggle a number of projects at the same time and think about multiple solutions to problems all at once. …


Two young men review a design on a large iMac computer monitor in a bright, sunny room.
Two young men review a design on a large iMac computer monitor in a bright, sunny room.

By Matt Weinberg
Product Designer, Understood

One in five people in the US has a learning and thinking difference, like ADHD or dyslexia. But many designers don’t realize the ways they might be letting this substantial user base fall through the cracks — sometimes to the point where they can’t use a product at all.

Our product team puts the needs of these users front and center in everything we design. For our team, this approach has opened up new ways of thinking about digital accessibility. …


A female product designer reviews code. She is facing two computer monitors and has her back facing the camera.
A female product designer reviews code. She is facing two computer monitors and has her back facing the camera.

By Matt Weinberg
Product Designer, Understood

The product team at Understood is responsible for building digital experiences like websites and mobile apps. But we have an even greater responsibility. It’s our job — our mission — to make our products fully accessible for people with disabilities.

Developers and designers have a shared, global set of accessibility standards. They’re called the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG. These standards act as a toolkit for developers to ensure that users with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities have equitable access to websites and applications.

At Understood, our product team considers compliance with WCAG standards a crucial starting point. In fact, we recently joined W3C, the consortium that sets these standards. And we’re excited to weigh in on new guidelines under development that focus specifically on people who learn and think differently. …


The authors smile brightly with Nora Elena Genster on the left and Claire Odom on the right against a neutral background.
The authors smile brightly with Nora Elena Genster on the left and Claire Odom on the right against a neutral background.

By Nora Elena Genster and Claire Odom

As disability inclusion specialists with Understood, we came into 2020 anticipating some major milestones for people with disabilities in the workforce. It’s been 30 years since the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. And this October marks the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

But back in January, needless to say, we weren’t expecting to be sitting here in October looking back on a year that’s completely transformed the world of work. Almost overnight, our workplaces weren’t functional for anyone anymore. …


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Image for post

By Natalie Tamburello

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness month. I have a learning disability, and I’m a professional in the field of learning and thinking differences, so I guess this is my moment to shine! But as I sit down to write this personal piece, I honestly don’t know where to start.

I spend most of my days channeling other people’s stories and experiences, doing research, and developing strategies to make a small difference. I avoid referencing my personal experiences in my work, even though my work is extremely personal. …


A Black man and his young daughter review educational material on the floor of a bright, colorful room.
A Black man and his young daughter review educational material on the floor of a bright, colorful room.

By Bob Cunningham

As an educator, school leader, and someone with expertise in learning and thinking differences, I’ve always told families to reach out to the school and ask for a meeting if things aren’t going well. Taking action at the first signs of trouble was important in pre-COVID times — before school shutdowns, chaotic remote learning, and massive academic slide. Now, it’s more important than ever that families quickly figure out how to get the support they need for their kids.

Getting a school’s attention is going to be hard right now

Everything we know from education research tells us that getting help as early as possible is critical, and it starts with crystal clear communication. But getting a school’s attention is going to be hard right now. Even in the best of times, I’ve seen communication break down between families whose kids are struggling and their schools. Trust is never established, and negative feelings on both sides just keep getting stronger as time goes by. …

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Shaping the World for Difference

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