Human-Centered Design with Autistic University Students: Interface, Interaction and Information Preferences

  • Marc FabriEmail author
  • Penny C.S. Andrews
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9747)


This paper reports on a study aimed at creating an online support toolkit for young autistic people to navigate the transition from school to university, thereby empowering this group in developing their full potential. It is part of the Autism&Uni project, a European-funded initiative to widen access to Higher Education for students on the autism spectrum. Our particular focus is on the Human-Computer Interaction elements of the toolkit, namely the visual design of the interface, the nature of interactions and navigation, and the information architecture. Past research in this area tended to focus on autistic children, often with learning difficulties, and their preferences in terms of interface and interaction design. Our research revealed that the preferences of young autistic adults who are academically competent and articulate, differ considerably from those of autistic children. Key findings are that text is preferred over visual material; visual design should be minimal; content ought to be organized in a logical and hierarchical manner; the tone of language ought to be genuine yet not too negative or patronizing; and images or video are only useful if they illustrate places or people, in other words information that cannot easily be conveyed in other ways.


Interface design Information architecture Participatory design Design Thinking Autism Asperger syndrome 



We would like to thank the survey and workshop participants for dedicating their time and sharing their experiences. The research leading up to this paper has been made possible thanks to the AUTHEW (Autism&Uni) project, part of the Erasmus Lifelong Learning Programme.

The Autism&Uni project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use, which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK
  2. 2.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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