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Autism and Accessibility

calendarJanuary 22 2020

by Adam Barrett, Access Social Ltd.

Being an older brother I have always been very protective of my little sister. (there’s 4 years difference between the two of us) This protectiveness has definitely been increased to biblical proportions due to her disability. Look at her the wrong way, use inappropriate language in her presence, I’ll rip your head off!

My sister, Heathar, has autism and epilepsy and communicates using a communication device. Her care needs are very complex as are her health conditions, for those reasons we are on a Personal Health Budget (PHB). This way, we (as a family) are in control of the support we have and can deliver it the way we want. And this works brilliantly for us, we can recruit who we want and be in total control of how we train them up.

One of the things we need to regularly train new staff about is how we plan for days out. Heathar is distracted by so many things when we are out, for example;

  • On street parking
  • Long queues
  • Ice cream & Burger vans
  • Gift shops
  • Cafes
  • Litter
  • Bins
  • Toilets

To name just a few! And these can change on an almost daily basis.

Therefore, it is very important that we get as much information as possible when visiting somewhere new, to ensure we have a great experience. It is vital we have a great experience first time, because if we don’t, the likelihood of us visiting that place again would be very slim.

We need visitor guides, photos, videos, documents, visitor reviews, google street view, anything that can help us build a picture and plan our journey avoiding some of the distractions listed above. But guess what? The accessibility information on most websites (if you can find it that is) is very generic and vague and heavily based around wheelchairs and mobility. I wanted to do something to change that.

Five years ago I got completely fed up at the huge gap in the access information market. The information I needed just didn’t exist. I wanted loads of photos, videos and things like the journey from the nearest accessible car parking space to the front door of the venue. All I found was text documents that were difficult to navigate through to find what little bit was relevant to us. This is when iRoam was born.

iRoam is an interactive video tour platform that allows visitors to experience the sights and sounds of a venue online before visiting in person. The software allows us to capture venues in video, clip by clip, to give the most realistic representation of the interior of a venue for those who may struggle with anxiety or sensory issues. We wanted to use video because we can capture audio, and by taking footage when venues are open to the public, we can give potential visitors a real-life experience, showing how people interact with each other and the environment. This provides a much clearer idea than simple photographs or 3D tours of empty spaces.

Our objective moving forward is that iRoam can have a positive impact on many sectors including healthcare, education and public transport and make accessibility fun, interesting and engaging.

Adam Barrett is the Director of Access Social Ltd, the creators of iRoam. Their aim is to creating exciting, fun and engaging access info that includes those with anxiety and sensory issues.

head shot of a smiling adam barrett

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