University of Stirling software engineering student Craig Docherty has led a project to develop a mobile application to help people with autism cope better with life changes.
Working in collaboration with Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils, the 22 year-old Stirling University Computing Club Vice-President, devised a clever app which allows people with autism to input key information about their likes and dislikes and preferred means of communication.
With help from fellow Stirling students Daniel Gibbs and Michael Baylis, Craig designed a prototype after seeing a call for an app to assist people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with various tasks including preparing for hospital visits and meetings.
Craig said: “We proposed a prototype to Stirling Council which we felt was simple to use and met the needs of our end-user. It was great to have our design selected and from there we worked with the council to produce a product that met the needs of their service users.
“We created self-selected font sizes and friendly colour schemes and added other capabilities including sharing information via email, a series of check lists, and emotion icons to help users share their feelings about a range of situations.
“It has been a great experience for Stirling University Computer Club to step outside the walls of the University and help make a difference in the wider community - working to develop a product that will hopefully be the first step towards a far more complete, integrated, user-friendly experience.”
Autism Development Officer at Stirling Council, Lorene Amet said: “Change is a big part of people’s lives and while it can be exciting for some, for others, particularly those with ASD, those changes can be harder to cope with. This new app aims to help with that process.
“Working with Craig and his team has been a very exciting new development for Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils. This brought freshness and dynamism to the Autism Strategy and enabled the development of a novel technology tool that has the true potential to help the Autism community at large. The project received some seed funding from the Scottish Government and interest for the app was raised by several other Scottish Local Authorities.”
The app was launched by Stirling Council as part of Autism Awareness Month.
The University of Stirling is ranked fifth in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Stirling is committed to carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society.
Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.
At almost 50-years-young, Stirling retains a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation. Its scenic central Scotland campus – complete with a loch, castle and golf course – is home to more than 12,000 students and 1500 staff representing 114 nationalities. This includes an ever-expanding base for postgraduate study.