How to adapt your website for people with multiple sclerosis

With more than 100,000 people in the UK with Multiple Sclerosis*, your organisation, institution or workplace may need to meet the needs of a colleague, supporter or client affected by multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong condition which affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Symptoms can include fatigue, visual problems and some people with the condition can have cognitive issues too. 

Do you know what adjustments you can make to your website to assist users with MS to use your site more effectively?

Many of these principles can help users with related conditions, and offer usability best practices too.

Not sure where to start your accessibility journey? AbilityNet looks at definitions of digital accessibility, and how we can help.

Think about dexterity and tremors

A screenshot of My Computer My Way website. Text on screen reads Changing keyboard settingsBe aware that some people with MS find that tremors affect how they can input information into a website form, for example. Train your administrative staff and those who receive enquiries to be aware of potential unintended characters that some users with MS may insert into a webform. 

Screen and text size

Many people with MS can have ongoing vision problems, so ensuring your website meets the minimum zoom accessibility standard is important to meet the needs of users with MS.

Make sure you have the facility to increase your website's text size to 400% (see WebAIM's checklist), and the option to adjust or customise the colour contrast settings.     

If you have an employee with MS

Alternative keyboards and mice are available that can make it easier to control the computer. These allow you to hold your hands and arms in different positions that may be more steady than standard versions.

If you have an employee with MS who needs advice about adjustments that can be made to their working set up, there are options for adapting your keyboard to make it easier to use. You'll find many of these by searching AbilityNet's My Computer My Way

Access AbilityNet's instructions for keyboard adjustments if you have MS. Some people may also wish to use Voice Recognition software to provide information without using the keyboard.

ClearTalentsOnDemand is a free online tool, which can help to assess your employee's accessibility needs

Wrist and arm supports are available to help keep arms comfortable and steady whilst using the computer. In-built ‘text-to-speech’ or additional software is available in most smartphones and tablets and on laptops and browsers. This can help where fatigue affects the ability to concentrate or with memory.

Anxiety and stress with MS

Mental health and emotions may be affected and there are many useful apps available that can help with anxiety, stress and mindfulness.

Note that MS can also affect people's speech, and some people with MS find they have a clearer voice earlier in the day than in the evening, and vice versa. Being aware of this can help both you and your employee in the workplace, and you may prefer to schedule meetings at times when the employee feels most able to contribute in person.

There are several reminder apps available to help with organisation and most technology providers (Google, Apple, Microsoft etc) have apps that can combine to sync calendar appointments, monitor side effects and mood, reminders, notes and other items so these are accessible across platforms.

In addition to the apps listed on our article about the best apps for MS, other recommended apps include: 

  • MS Link 
  • Cleo MS health and wellbeing app
  • MS Self
  • MyTherapy
  • Symtrac tracks symptoms and wellbeing (Novartis UK)
  • CleoTM Biogen 2019 
Find out more about apps for mental health and wellbeing.

Free support for older and disabled people. Learn how to adapt your tech - contact AbilityNetNeed more advice? 

* MS Trust, website accessed September 2019.