Taking a user-centered approach to designing new technology, a group of U.K. researchers are tackling the goal of using ergonomics to create custom-tailored interactive environments for children with autism.
Reporting on their progress at the Ergonomics Society Annual Conference last week, research team member Dr. Andree Woodcock said the team was hoping to take polysensory environments, specifically those that combine projected and moving computer images with light and sound, to a new level by incorporating the individual child into the design process.
The researchers chose to focus on polysensory environments because of the success some children with autism have had with these types of environments already. “Our final environment will consist of a series of modules, each of which will be developed through an understanding of children’s needs and sensitivities. This in itself is problematic as the children themselves are not always able to tell us what they think,” said Woodcock in an Innovations Report article. “Therefore, the team plans to work closely with parents, [care providers] and staff at various centers around the country,” Woodcock continued.
One of the challenges for researchers is designing environments that will work with children with varying levels of autism. For example, the research team has been looking at ways of addressing the differing sensitivities that children with autism may have, such as aversions to specific colors or sounds. The goal of the project, therefore, is to develop an interactive environment that, with the help of the child using the system, will be seen as both non-threatening and engaging for each child.
The project is being funded by the U.K.’s Arts Humanities Research Board (AHRB).
Source: Innovations Report