This investigation explores the design of a multimedia-based lesson to enhance the social skills development of young learners with autism. Both interface and web accessibility guidelines are assessed throughout the implementation of the prototype, with particular attention given as to how these guidelines can be improved upon to meet the cognitive needs of our target audience. The Triad of Impairments are a set of common traits that learners with autism exhibit. These include: impairment in social communication; impairment in social interaction; and impairment in imagination. Software designers and researchers are more recently turning to computer-based learning technologies to provide support for these learners. An in-depth requirements analysis study was conducted in local special needs and autism classrooms, in order to create a user profile and design model for the prototype lesson. This ‘user-centred’ design approach was then implemented throughout all phases of prototype development. Thorough evaluations were conducted with tutors and expert users at each stage. During the final phase of development a nationwide online evaluation was conducted with special needs schools in order to consolidate findings. It is concluded that this software could be incorporated into current autism classroom curriculums. The theme of the lesson has an original approach for teaching self-help skills to these young learners. The clear, clutter-free and simple navigation makes the software easily accessible. The additional features of quizzes and Flash games (reinforcers) have been judged as an effective approach for encouraging and rewarding learning. A nationwide survey was conducted to consolidate the design structure of the prototype. A random sample of Irish national special needs schools was chosen to participate in the survey. The survey has resulted in positive findings regarding the prototype lesson’s interface design, accessibility features, computer-based learning support and multimodal components. It is anticipated that these guidelines will contribute to a software design framework that can be used to generate further social scenario lessons.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2009|
- Autism, child development, e-learning