Week 2 is in the books! This week our team continued to put our heads together to come up with some fabulous ideas for our project. The conversations centered around some interesting topics: effectiveness vs. accessibility, the potential of VR as an empathy machine, games vs. experience, and transformational goals.
As a public school, Beech Bottom Primary does not have immediate access to the latest and greatest technology showpieces, so we’ve been thinking long and hard about how to balance our desire to leverage the powerful platforms that are now available to us as developers, while still making something that will be eminently usable by children in public schools.
The vast majority of technical projects working towards increasing empathy for autistic people has focused on simulating the “sensory overload” that is one of the hallmarks of autism. We’ve looked at a game jam experience called “Auti-sim,” that puts the player in the role of an autistic child at a school playground and simulates the visual and auditory distortions commonly reported by people with autism. Similarly, we looked at a project developed for VR headsets called “The Autism Simulator,” that places you in the role of an autistic adult at a diner, demonstrating how the littlest distractions in the environment can become overwhelming.
With most of the existing work having been focused on these kinds of simulations, our team has started to discuss the possibility of something different we can do in this space. Is there potentially a way to get children to empathize with their autistic classmates without having to recreate the autistic sensory experience itself? Stay tuned for week 3!