A web of anxiety: accessibility for people with anxiety and panic disorders [Part 1]

Thanks and a hat tip to KW….


Anyone booking a vacation has likely encountered persuasive notifications urging them to “Hurry, only 2 tickets left!” or to “Book now as 6 other people are viewing this hotel”.

We’ve all fumbled to enter our credit-card details as an ominous timer counts down the number of minutes remaining to complete our transaction. The web is awash with all manner of so-called dark patterns, designed to convert visitors and part them from their money. While such intrusions can be a source of irritation or even stress for many people, they may be complete showstoppers for people with anxiety or panic disorders.

Anxiety disorders comprise a range of mental illnesses that are characterised by excessive feelings of fear, apprehension, and dread. For example, social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or judged negatively by others in a social or work setting. Claustrophobia is the fear of confined spaces. Agoraphobia is a fear of being in a situation that would be difficult to escape from. People with health anxiety have a preoccupation with the idea that they have (or will have) a physical illness. Panic disorders describe sudden, frequent, and intense feelings of panic or fear, sometimes for no clear reason.

After asking about it on discussion forums, message boards and social media, I talked with several people with anxiety and panic disorders about aspects of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design that contribute to feelings of anxiety and panic. Several themes emerged:

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