When designing and developing technology solutions for school-aged students with autism, we consider these main buckets of needs:
- Cognitive impairments, including memory issues, reading level and information processing skill
- Sensory integration, perception and processing
- Fine or gross motor control and coordination skills
- Communication skills, pragmatic language, hidden social rules
While autism presents uniquely in each individual, these common threads of support needs exist to a greater or lesser extent.
We improve technology solutions for individuals across the Autism Spectrum by exploring the features of initial releases (through mockups, frameworks and beta walkthroughs). We observe in situ interactions with the product. We dialog with collaborating participants who can express their needs and observations effectively. Then we iterate the product to integrate their recommendations, validating their expectations as we go.
When conducting a usability analysis, we use the above issues and hold them up next to the standards for user acceptance:
- Can the user perform the tasks?
- How long does it take to complete the task?
- How easy it the product to learn?
- Does the product help prevent user error?
- How satisfied is the user with the product?
This dual focus on support and usability helps us refine solutions that meet the needs of our users the first time, saving the product owners valuable rework time, and bringing the right solution to market right away.