Moment: A travel planner for people with autism
Ivan Kunjasic, Martina Eriksson & Toby Whelan
For people with autism, using public transport can be so challenging it becomes impossible. Difficulties perceiving time, reacting to change and planning ahead means travelling risks being overloaded with stress. Freedom to move is an essential and powerful right, a liberty that should be supported by the systems around us.
The specialist needs that come with autism are often not recognised: both on an everyday, individual level and on an institutional, governmental level. In this project, we set out to bring together those with autism, the supportive individuals around them and the public decision-makers. Using co-design to create and communicate a new concept, we aimed to empower both parties in a process tackling injustices in the mobility system.
Moment is a travel planner and digital assistant that makes it easier for people with autism to plan their travels, then supports them along the way with personalised guidance and help when plans change.
With the tangible planner, the user can visually schedule their activities for the week. Tokens represent different events, allowing for plans to be materially structured in an easily accessed form. Add a location and name to a specific token, and Moment creates a step-by-step travel plan.
A mobility assistant designed for the specific needs of people with autism. The app allows people to view their plans on the go and provides live help when traveling, guiding the user through each step of the journey. Information is nested so that only as much is displayed as is needed.
Passing time is made tangible through a clear visual countdown, helping the user understand how long the wait is before the next step. Through connected services, the user can see a 360° preview of where they are going, helping the feeling of reassurance and confidence.
In our process we explored techniques and methods in the context of design ethnography and participatory design in a practical design project called ‘Mobility Justice’. Using provocative interventions we uncovered power structures and injustices in the existing mobility systems. Through an open dialogue with members of the ASC community and local municipality, all have been recognized as legitimate stakeholders with the ability to impact their built environment. As such, the process of design was as empowering as the result itselves.
Taking the role as mediators and facilitators, we focused on the strengths of these stakeholders, allowing them to come with creative and critical input. We believe that real impact is made when we as designers strengthen people’s capacity to contribute.
Designing for autism presents a unique challenge, as many established micro and macro interaction conventions do not apply. As such, we adopted the practice of continually engaging with autistic specialist teachers to test every level of design decision: designing with as well as for.