Posted on 18th August 2015
Lessons Learnt from a Participatory Design Workshop
On 28th of July 2015, the Leeds Beckett Autism&Uni team held the first in a series of participatory design workshops with young autistic adults. We tested prototype content, formats and different media for an interactive toolkit.
This toolkit will be one of the main outputs of the Autism&Uni project, helping young people on the autism spectrum navigate their way into higher education.
We recommended that participants bring a parent or friend if that made them feel more comfortable, but made it clear that we wanted to hear the young autistic people’s views and not others speaking for them, and this worked well.
We created a full workshop briefing document in advance of the day, with lots of pictures (of Marc and Penny, the buildings and rooms we were using and photo directions to the meeting point) and structured text information. This is where it helps to have an autistic researcher working on the project – Penny put in the information she would need and want!
We sent questionnaires to participants asking if they had any worries or anxieties about the day and how we could make them feel more comfortable.
This felt more personal and relevant than the usual accessibility questions. In response to this, we added information about what participants could do in breaks in the workshop programme, as while some autistic people need a lot of comfort breaks, others feel lost and forced into social interaction.