Sunday, July 5, 2009

Research Project

I am currently analyzing online spaces dedicated to issues of autism spectrum disorders. I am also including spaced created by and/or for individuals with ASDs.

This is a funded project, sponsored by my university, to help determine how we might design online courses to better accommodate students with special needs. It is a tedious process, but one that should pay dividends over the coming years as more students with diagnoses of HFA, AS, and PDD-NOS qualify for university admissions.

Though there are a great many sites dedicated to autism, the thing I still notice most is the "tribal" nature of the spaces. There are clear divisions within this small universe of individuals with ASDs, families, advocates, researchers, and so on. The tone of many sites is aggressive -- not at all inviting. I do understand how this has come to pass, but it is a shame.

Anyway, I'm concentrating more on design issues and accessibility than the rhetorical methods employed. At least design is my focus for now. Later, much later, I'll delve into the rhetorical analysis of autism communities.

(Or I'll opt for an entirely more peaceful pursuit and watch birds at the local parks.)

2 comments:

  1. If you ever need help with this, I know of two adults with asperger's who might help you. By help, I mean look at colors, fonts, etc.

    That must be a lot to think about. But you are absolutely right. It is very necessary.

    You're blazing a trail.

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  2. My goal is to propose "ideal" redesigns for online courses at the university. Once I have IRB (review board) approval to interview people, I'll post requests for volunteers on as many forums as possible. It's always a challenge to get interviews, even via e-mail, with guardians and students.

    Thankfully, I doubt many people will be hesitant to discuss Internet / Web usage and what they prefer in an online community's design and features. Nothing too controversial in the topic.

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