This blogpost has been kindly contributed to the participatory design series by one of the workshop participants.
Over the last few months I have had the exciting the opportunity to be part of an autistic driven workshop in relation to our understandings of social media and the ways in which we interact in such online spaces.
Utilising the online tool Miro and physical cards, we had time to discuss and share ideas surrounding what tools we best associate with in navigating online spaces (such as reactions, commenting and sharing), what we would emphasise the most if we had an online site and the challenges that may come with being neurodiverse and exploring neurotypical spaces.
Over the course of three lots of two hour sessions we as a group were able to share insights such as our own special interests, online misunderstandings and the communities we had become a part of. Reflecting now, these workshops provided space for an area of online discussion frequently overlooked. Neurodiversity is often talked about online, especially through blogs and the likes of Twitter, but the relationship between neurodiversity and online is not one I encountered prior to taking part. The divisiveness of any online community, in this instance the autistic community, was set aside as we all had a say in how we could create and collaborate within our own part of the virtual world. My highlight being the first workshop, where each group involved had a separate discussion point relating to the engagement of special interests and different ways one can engage with others online.
To add, the variety of which we could present our answers, along with the materials provided to us prior to the workshop enabled us to give answers back in a variety of ways, often restricted by neurotypical driven studies, the informal atmosphere only supporting our voices.
With the future of online accessibility and online navigation in mind, I look forward to seeing what this research will uncover, and just how we can make online spaces ever more inclusive. Providing the means in a way that will both amplify new voices and enhance our understanding as to why we stake our claim to be a part of the online world.