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Article
Publication date: 20 March 2017

Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill, Mark Brosnan and Judith Good

Interdisciplinary perspectives and collaboration in technology research are regarded as vital for producing effective and usable solutions that meet real needs. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Interdisciplinary perspectives and collaboration in technology research are regarded as vital for producing effective and usable solutions that meet real needs. The purpose of this paper is to draw upon the fifth seminar in an Economic and Social Research Council funded series in the UK on “Innovative Technologies for Autism”. This seminar focused on the contributions that different disciplines can make to the field of autism and technology, and offers some interesting avenues for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

A synthesis of key messages from the speakers’ talks is presented, interspersed with comments and observations from delegates which were written on post-it notes during the day and shared amongst the group.

Findings

Interdisciplinarity can be conceptualised in many different ways and is not simply about academic contributions. Collaborative research involving genuine stakeholder participation can provide fertile grounds for respecting and exploring individual differences and needs. Investigating the uses of existing technologies as well as developing innovative ideas and prototypes through inclusive design are important avenues for future research.

Originality/value

This paper offers a rare glimpse into a range of perspectives within a broad field of research and draws out some important connections between these different viewpoints. There are valuable avenues for collaboration and further exploration that would extend research in productive ways.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 December 2016

Judith Good, Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill and Mark Brosnan

This short paper reports on the fourth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles”, funded by…

Abstract

Purpose

This short paper reports on the fourth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles”, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The purpose of this paper is to consider in more depth the technologies being developed and used in the autism field, and to critically reflect on their relative benefits and potential pitfalls.

Design/methodology/approach

Presentations from key researchers and practitioners are reviewed, highlighting contemporary issues in the area of autism and technology. The presentations include descriptions of cutting-edge technologies as well as the role of technology in human-human interaction.

Findings

Despite its potential, technology for autism is regarded by many with some caution: technology per se cannot provide solutions to key issues in the field. However, by looking in more depth at the features of new technologies and the interactions that take place with and around them, we can begin to build up a picture of best practice around technology for autism.

Originality/value

This paper offers up-to-date insights from leading academics on the benefits and challenges of innovative technologies in the field of autism research and practice. Specifically, it highlights the importance of including a breadth of expertise in the design of such tools, and the need to consider technology as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 18 September 2017

Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill, Mark Brosnan and Judith Good

The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the main messages and key questions for further research arising from the seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative…

1973

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the main messages and key questions for further research arising from the seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative technologies for autism: critical reflections on digital bubbles”, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach

A synthesis of the main ideas is presented, drawing on the presentations, discussions, participant feedback, and short papers from across the seminar series, which took place between November 2014-2016.

Findings

There were many positive examples where technologies were positioned and used as facilitative “bridges” between ideas, communities, understanding, and experiences. Researchers and community stakeholders also emphasised the importance of taking different perspectives and working in stronger partnerships with each other. Four overarching research questions were developed from these themes to provide a roadmap for future research, relating to: responsible innovation, technology-enabled social interaction, learning and pedagogy, and engagement.

Originality/value

The findings and methodologies produced by the Digital Bubbles seminar series, available on the project website (http://digitalbubbles.org.uk/) and in a series of short papers, provide a rich repository of state-of-the-art thinking in the field of autism and technology that is being utilised nationally and internationally in teaching and learning. This paper suggests some valuable future research directions and highlights the importance of establishing and maintaining multi-disciplinary research teams, with autistic people and their families at their core.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 July 2020

Petr Scholle, Gerardo Herrera, Javier Sevilla and Mark Brosnan

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can demonstrate a preference for using digital technologies which can represent a relative strength within the autism…

Abstract

Purpose

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can demonstrate a preference for using digital technologies which can represent a relative strength within the autism community. Such a strength would have implications for digitally mediated interventions and support for autism. However, research to date has not developed a methodology for assessing the capabilities of minimally verbal children on the autism spectrum with intellectual disability (ID) to use digital technology.

Design/methodology/approach

Six minimally verbal children with ASD and ID undertook an accessible assessment that identified what capabilities for interacting with a digital tablet device they could and could not demonstrate. Twelve brief assessments were demonstrated, including turning on the device, adjusting the volume, operating the camera, touching, tilting and rotating the screen.

Findings

Participants could be assessed on their digital capabilities. In this study, participants could largely touch and swipe the screen effectively and leave the app, but could not tilt and rotate the screen nor turn on the digital tablet device.

Research limitations/implications

While the numbers were small, the findings indicate that the digital capabilities of this group can usefully be assessed. Future research can use such assessments to highlight how intervention effectiveness and support can be enhanced by matching the digital capacities of minimally verbal children with ASD and ID to technological support. This is a preliminary study and a greater understanding of children’s prior experiences with technology will better inform how and which digital capabilities develop.

Originality/value

This is the first study to assess a range of basic capabilities for using digital tablet devices in minimally verbal children with ASD and ID.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Mark Brosnan, Samantha Holt, Nicola Yuill, Judith Good and Sarah Parsons

The purpose of this paper is to report on the sixth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on the sixth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The aim of this particular seminar was to reflect upon the implications from neurodiverse communities for the development of technology for autism.

Design/methodology/approach

Presentations from key researchers and parental perspectives are reviewed, highlighting contemporary issues in neurodiverse populations that have important implications for autism.

Findings

Whilst there are many conditions associated with autism, most commonly intellectual disability (learning difficulties), this is not reflected in research. In addition, for child-based research, researchers are at least a generation older than participants and have had different digital-childhoods. Involving neurodiverse populations within participatory design sessions can address both of these issues. Understanding the context of the issues that the participatory design sessions address is crucial for developing participatory design principles that extend from one condition to another. This includes understanding when findings based upon verbal populations can be extended to non-verbal populations.

Originality/value

This paper offers up-to-date insights into how design principles from one condition extend to different conditions. Universal interaction and neurodiversity HCI are considered. This is important within neurodiverse populations, especially given the high rates of additional conditions that are associated with autism. Whilst the majority of autism research has involved verbal populations, the benefits of technology can extend to non-verbal populations.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill, Mark Brosnan and Judith Good

There is increasing interest from researchers, teachers and other professionals, individuals with autism, and families about the potential for innovative technologies to…

Abstract

Purpose

There is increasing interest from researchers, teachers and other professionals, individuals with autism, and families about the potential for innovative technologies to transform learning experiences and facilitate friendships and social networks. Media accounts have highlighted both the apparently miraculous impacts of technology on supporting communication and learning for people with autism, as well as significant concerns about whether technology use is healthy, safe and socially appropriate for children and young people. Rarely, however, is any evidence reported to support either set of claims. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This short paper reports on an Economic and Social Research Council-funded seminar series in the UK that is critically reviewing and discussing the field with respect to the research evidence base but also the assumptions that are made about where, how and whether innovative technologies may be useful for people with autism and their families.

Findings

The first seminar in the series focused on whether technologies create a social bubble for people with autism and presented research demonstrating that technology use can be positive, supportive and rewarding.

Originality/value

This paper offers an up-to-date insight into some of key debates about the benefits and limitations of social technologies for people with autism. Its value lies in raising questions about, and discussing evidence that challenges, some of the negative assumptions that are often perpetuated by the media about the potentially harmful effects of technologies.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 21 December 2015

Nicola Yuill, Sarah Parsons, Judith Good and Mark Brosnan

The purpose of this paper is to raise important questions from the different perspectives on autism research that arose from a seminar on autism and technology, held as…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to raise important questions from the different perspectives on autism research that arose from a seminar on autism and technology, held as part of an ESRC-funded series on innovative technologies for autism.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper focuses on the roles of technology in understanding questions about different perspectives on autism: how do people on the spectrum see neurotypicals (people without autism) and vice versa?; how do the authors use eye gaze differently from each other?; how might technology influence what is looked at and how the authors measure this?; what differences might there be in how people use imitation of others?; and finally, how should the authors study and treat any differences?

Findings

The authors synthesise common themes from invited talks and responses. The audience discussions highlighted the ways in which the authors take account of human variation, how the authors can understand the perspective of another, particularly across third-person and second-person approaches in research, and how researchers and stakeholders engage with each other.

Originality/value

The authors argue that the question of perspectives is important for considering how people with autism and neurotypical people interact in everyday contexts, and how researchers frame their research questions and methods. The authors propose that stakeholders and researchers can fruitfully engage directly in discussions of research, in ways that benefit both research and practice.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 June 2016

Mark Brosnan, Sarah Parsons, Judith Good and Nicola Yuill

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon on the opportunities and challenges of engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders during the design, development and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon on the opportunities and challenges of engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders during the design, development and evaluation of innovative technologies for people with autism. Autism is defined in part by difficulties in social communication and interaction, and is therefore particularly pertinent when considering the opportunities and challenges of participatory design (PD).

Design/methodology/approach

A series of presentations from key researchers and practitioners are reviewed, highlighting contemporary issues about how technologies have been designed to improve educational support using a range of methods and processes for stakeholder involvement.

Findings

Involvement per se does not constitute engagement as a design partner. The interdisciplinary nature of PD, combined with the viewpoints of communities beyond academia, need to be integrated in a manner that allows for different perspectives and voices, and for the “trace” of the contribution to be evidenced. The level of evidence required for demonstrating effective support needs to be considered in terms of both the outcomes of projects and the processes for involving stakeholders in PD.

Originality/value

This paper offers an up-to-date insight from lead researchers into key debates about the benefits and challenges of PD with autistic people and the broader autism community. Its value lies in raising questions about, and discussing evidence that challenges, some of the assumptions that underpin both PD processes and the needs of the autistic community.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 19 December 2016

Chris Abbott

338

Abstract

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Content available
Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Chris Abbott

123

Abstract

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

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