How does your brain injury affect your ability to use the internet?

How does your brain injury affect your ability to use the internet?

Hi all,

This post is inspired by a really interested discussion started by RecoveringH, on the issues that moving adverts and banners on websites can cause for people with brain injury ( ).

As technology progresses and websites become ever more complex, we'd like to look into this further, to allow us to build a picture of the challenges our members face when using the internet.

This is where you can help: Tell us what challenges you face when using the internet, and what features and designs make it difficult for you to access the information you need.

Some examples could be:

- Moving banners and adverts causing you problems

- Needing to use special equipment or software to find the information you need, and whether your favourite websites allow for this

- Whether mobile devices make it easier or more difficult to use the internet

- Any specific websites that do things particularly well, or badly

- Your overall views on accessibility, and whether things are getting better or worse

Thank you as always for your help.

Best wishes,


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8 Replies

  • One of the problems for me is that with iPad, on a lot of websites - Healthunlocked included - there is an option of "reading view available" but that format won't allow viewing of the comments below the original post & there is no way for being able to enlarge the print size of the page w/out using the reader pade option, so a bit of a catch 21 scenario that makes web surfing fatiguing to eyes & occipital lobes even 30+yrs after BI.

    Also the more cluttered the website page the tougher esp when tired to grasp what is being "said" presented on that page.

    Another problem for me occurs with embedded videos on a site if the video either doesn't have a written transcribed version of what was being said on the video or at the very least closed captioning of said video. As I've got BI induced hearing loss too.

    Hope this helps with your future website designs.

  • Generally I consider myself to be pretty okay on the internet but general things that cause me problems are

    Websites with flashing banners - huge no-no, should come with warning before they kick in so I can get out before they start

    videos/ads that come on automatically a few seconds after I land on a page and I can't figure out where the noise is coming from or how to stop it...sometimes I can locate the culprit (usually one of a series in a website side bar) but more often I will simply abandon the page because it "hurts my brain"

    CAPTCHA - these things drive me crazy. They do not make sense, are blurry and the audio version is no better. They will send me running.

    Official websites with convoluted pathways to get to information. Often I will go round in circles for a while before giving up. This is particularly frustrating when there are limited options to gain needed information and by the time I find a phone us option (assuming there is one because not all have them) I am so overloaded I am incoherent and if I do manage to speak to a human (usually after pressing assorted numbers on random options, most of which do not meet my needs so I end up picking one and hoping for the best) I am likely to end up crying down the phone at them and making no sense, embarrassing both them and myself.

    Articles or documents that say "preview" but then won't open unless I download them to my pc

    Websites that require me to register before I can access the information and then, despite the fact they contain or ask for no sensitive information, insist on a password that is so convoluted top scientists would have trouble cracking it...and of course IF I do eventually manage to create a password that meets their exacting standards, I can never remember it and am forced to start to process again if I ever want to visit that site again.

    When using my phone I hate that ...

    certain websites only run properly if you download their app. which often clogs up the phone with nonsense and has gubbins I do not need and comes with ads

    Some websites simply do not display on a phone, even if you switch to landscape half the info is off the page or it will not display a full thread...unless you download the dreaded app.

    Downloading all these apps then causes the phone to grind to a halt and be unable to perform even the simplest updates ...which means I have to start uninstalling the flippin' apps. Grr!

  • Flickering adverts/images 'upset' my eyes, I very rarely click on 'video' options, so the sites where a video or an advert starts auto-playing can be frustrating. I get sensory overload quite easily, watching TV for more than about 20 minutes makes me fidgetty, and you can just about guarantee that if I watch anything longer than that, my brain says "No.", and I fall asleep. I appreciate this won't be the same for everyone, but it could be an idea for video-content to be blocked/chunked into segments?

    Black text on a white background starts to 'swim' after a while, and my crushed-astigmatic left eye sort of gives up even trying if I look at a screen for too long, I end up turning my head, to see the left-hand side of the screen, took me ages to figure out I was doing that, I'd just absorbed it into the 'new normal'. A place I worked at years ago used to insist on six minutes away from the screen every hour, so I've tried to remember that.

    Some sites do that atrocious thing where the banners/headings shift about, and take a while to settle, I know it's an advertising-banner trick, but, if I wanted to buy a speedboat, or join a dating site, I'd have searched that. It drives me mad when I try to click on a news article in The Guardian, and the page 'shifts' meaning I click on the "For less than the price of a cup of coffee a day!" subscription-link.

    "Phone for more details!" I'm awful on the phone, I hate phoning places, and, quite often sit staring at my mobile, or the house phone, until it stops ringing, if it's important, they'll leave a message. There was one yesterday that WAS important, and, even though the woman on the other end of the phone was aware of my BI and aphasia, she continued pressing me for information I couldn't articulate.

    (Facebook annoys me because every third post seems to be about cake, and I don't like cake, but if it wasn't cake, it would be something else, Facebook just annoys me in general.)

  • Hi Andrew. I use Microsoft Windows on my laptop with Internet Explorer. I sometimes find that Amazon and Ebay can be besieged with annoying ads, but these sites are free for us to use so I guess someone has to sponsor them.

    My TalkTalk email app is the worst for pop ups and pretty aggressive, gyrating ads but I only check my emails once daily then log off unless I'm sending an email.

    It's TV ads which I find the most mentally intrusive, so always have the mute button at the ready.

    Kind regards, Cat.

  • I hate most of the things described here. Also, let me add to the list:

    Websites where the colour scheme is "light grey text on white" or something similarly unreadable. (Even the grey text on this one is no fun for my double vision). I like black on white, and realise this conflicts with what Gaia_rising said. The perfect solution would be to have alternative colour schemes and get the reader to choose which they see.

    Long-winded explanations. I realise that sometimes there is a lot of information to convey, but my brain gets fatigued so easily. It wears me out to wade through long articles for a tiny piece of relevant information. What about a compromise where you start with the main points in a simple form (bold or bulleted list), then put the details underneath for those with the energy/necessity to read on?

    Thank you for taking this stuff into consideration :)

  • I make mobile phone operating systems for a living. Google runs my software on their desktops. But I'm hanged if I know how to free up space on this android. I bought a large sd disk but it does no good it wants to fill up the built in storage. Every os sucks. And blows. At the same time.

  • I have the same problem! Apps never give you a choice of where to install them.

  • Hello, I really wanted to contribute to this as I am often frustrated by the internet & technology in general,but, I do find it has some benefits & aids my life in some positive ways too.

    Things I struggle with:

    Adverts, especially moving or noisy ones or those with videos that automatically play.

    Pop up screens that disable movement without you having to answer a question or click a small (& often difficult to locate) cross.

    Password or accounts required for sites that really don't need them. As iforget mentioned, it is terrible trying to create an accepted password, yet alone remember them all! Out of necessity I have a list of passwords for all my online accounts & I couldn't cope without it.

    Whilst I find the adverts annoying, I do use Youtube for calming me down when necessary. I use short, guided meditations or listen to particular singers as required. I have recently started to listen to some TED talks in a pill-free attempt to boost my mood.

    I find my smartphone invaluable as a memory prompt (for basic things such as reminders to eat meals) & being able to say words & have the correct spelling appear on screen. However, I recognise I am very reliant on it & this was highlighted when it recently faulted. The two days without my usual apps at my fingertips were strangely calming & therapeutic.

    The most important aspect of internet usage for me is my self discipline; recognising, accepting & acting upon my own limits in terms of fatigue & stimulation. Exiting, or staying away from sites that I find difficult to navigate or with heavy content I can't comprehend or absorb. For example; my usage & participation on this site is very hit & miss, when I do access the site I often find some of the topics require me to go away & think. This in turn has many knock on affects which mean I then can't bear to access it again for days, weeks or months. The email summaries I receive with post topics often contain subjects I'm interested in, so I 'bank' them to look at later (when I feel I have the energy & concentration). I have hundreds in a folder & I know I will never be able to work through them all, it's the same with other BI groups on Facebook. I have so many bookmarked pages that someone without BI would struggle to cope them trying to read & digest them all. So, self discipline is essential & if anyone has any tips then please let me know! ;-)

    Best wishes


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