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The Process Of Involving Children With Autism In The Design Of A Museum-Based App


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By Dimitra Magkafa, University of West of England, UK, Nigel Newbutt, University of the West of England, UK

Museums are considered active institutions that facilitate the possibility of self- directed learning and exploration. Decades have passed since the implementation of the Disability Act (1995), and we have seen the incorporation of inclusive practices in museums for a diverse range of people including people with autism. In support of this endeavor, this paper seeks to present a process of designing a museum-based application tailored to autistic children’s needs. By adopting a Participatory Design approach, the paper attempts to capture the preferences of a case study group in co-designing an app for a Bristol-based museum. Initial findings emphasize the significance of adopting a participatory methodology in enabling users to provide feedback whilst collaborating among stakeholders. These were found to be key factors in the development of the platform. This paper will also consider the challenges that emerged from the participants' involvement, and how these influenced the design process.

Published in: Education
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The Process Of Involving Children With Autism In The Design Of A Museum-Based App

  1. 1. The process of involving children with autism in the design of a museum-based application Dimitra Magkafa, PhD Researcher, University of the West of England Dr Nigel Newbutt, Dr Mark Palmer, Supervisors
  2. 2. What is Background Purpose Design Stages Discussion/Conclusion
  3. 3. Definition “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them” (The National Autistic Society, 2017). “Triad of Impairments” Wind & Gould (1979) Social Interaction Communication Imagination Core Characteristics
  4. 4. Autism and Technology
  5. 5. The power of Participatory Design (PD) ▪ The active involvement of people with autism in the technology design process (Benton & Johnson, 2015). ▪ Different roles: a) user, b) tester, c) informant, d) design partner (Druin, 2002). ▪ Variety of methods to understand the user’s needs and improve the features of any technology program.
  6. 6. Inclusive Strategies For People with Autism in Museums • Practices on advancing museum’s access and their services for people with diverse disabilities (Disability anti- discrimination Act (ADA), 1995). • New provisions for people with intellectual disabilities: - light level - simple signage - lower sounds - sensory-based activities in small groups - pre-visit resources (web-based)
  7. 7. Background Purpose Design Stages Discussion/Conclusion 1) How can we design for such diversity? 2) How can we verify that a museum- based application meets the user’s needs and captures the user’s interests? Museums Children with Autism (ASD) Assistive Technologies (touchscreen devices)
  8. 8. Ideate User-TestingRe-Design Discovery Co- Design Sessions Iterative Process Background Purpose Design Stages Discussion//Conclusion
  9. 9. Stage 1: Discovery Participatory Design Approach
  10. 10. Drawings
  11. 11. Low- tech Prototypes
  12. 12. Results
  13. 13. Ideate User- Testing Re-Design Discovery Concept Development  Existing design guidelines  Co-design sessions Stage 2: Ideate
  14. 14. Case Study: M Shed Museum
  15. 15. Sketches Paper Based Digital
  16. 16. Stage 3:User-Testing Process Ideate User- Testing Re-Design Discovery Participants ▪ A class with autistic children (Key Stage 2) ▪ Oral & written feedback (questionnaire)
  17. 17. Stage 4: Re-Design Ideate User- Testing Re-Design Discovery ▪ Simplify text ▪ Add new features ▪ Fix bugs
  18. 18. Final Design
  19. 19. Discussion- Conclusions ▪ Children’s involvement gave us insights into the design preferences, such as navigability, customization and accessibility. ▪ Different techniques to capture the data helped the participants to express themselves, be more creative and engaged over the sessions. ▪ User’s testing session helped to improve the interface. ▪ Teacher’s involvement was essential to identify any challenges, modify the tasks and make simpler the content.
  20. 20. Thank you Email: