In Canada, approximately 3000 babies are born every year with some form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is a lifelong disability, with affects that vary among individuals. Those who are affected by it deal with secondary challenges such as memory problems, slow learning, and dysmaturity.
"Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioural and learning disabilities with lifelong implications. FASD is a brain-based injury."
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Ontario Network of Expertise
MyToolkit is a collaborative tool made available to people with FASD by their mentors to help with goal setting, resources, and to assist individuals with FASD on a daily basis.
“A mentor’s goal is to help put tools in the person’s toolbox to help them accomplish a task. We want to give them the capacity and tools to be successful in life.”
- FASD Mentor
This project began as a personal exploration into the lives of the people around me. One of those people was my sister, Bethany, a recent graduate from the University of Alberta with a BA in psychology, and a current mentor for people with FASD. Her stories range from tolerable to unbelievable, and the people who she speaks to on a daily basis have normal issues, but paired with more complex ones.
Typically, she will meet with her clients on a weekly basis, giving them goals to work on, as well as assist them with any appointments they need to go to that day, help make calls, and provide resources for the things they need help with. The rest of the time, she can only hope for the best that her clients are able to function on the day to day basis. Unfortunately, she cannot provide the 24/7 care that some people need.
I wanted to understand exactly why her clients behaved as they did, and as I spoke with my sister more about it, it became clear that it was not something within their control. In fact, a lot of their behaviours are very much out of their control.
The factors range between individuals, but one thing is always there, and that is permanent brain damage from birth, resulting from consumption of alcohol during natal development. On a day to day basis, something easily accomplished by someone with normal cognitive health can be an extreme challenge for someone with FASD. People will also have different kinds of challenges, such as “being impulsive, acting out from frustration, not understanding consequences, being unfocused and easily distracted, forgetting how to do something they’ve done before, or they hard time with handling money or learning how to tell time” (Gov’t of Canada, 2017). These are the kind of challenges that I wanted to focus on while creating the app.
Mainly, I wanted to be able to assist people with FASD, to make their lives easier on a daily basis, as well as to assist mentors in understanding their clients and keeping good rapport with them during meetings.
This app was designed for individuals with FASD over the age of 18. The set of resources, goals, and reminders are meant to aid someone who is a young adult looking to further their impact on the world.
Young adults were chosen as the target for the app due to the probability of use of a phone in this age range, as well as an increased need for free resources outside of regular care.
The user group that this app is targeting wants to live more individually, and be more self sufficient. Despite the daily challenges they may face, MyToolkit is meant to provide them with the tools they need to overcome those challenges.
The particular affect of FASD that this app targets is dysmaturity, memory problems, and prioritization.
Suit a range of needs
Provide a welcoming interface that is not embarrassing/shameful
Suit a range of ages
Documentation and Style Guide
Met with FASD Mentor to discuss concept
Development of mapping
Development of wireframes
Design of app in Adobe XD
Prototyping of final design in Invision
Reduction of initial onboarding
Ability to “skip” onboarding
Softening the language to suit the user, thinking of how they would describe their own needs while navigating the app
Goal breakdown, rather than just a single, general task. What are the micro goals that are more specific and attainable?
Weekly goal making
Goals to the home page
Conversations with UI
Ensuring contrast is effective enough
Notes on Feedback
I found the use of a personality within the app to be an important factor in providing the user with a teammate that they can rely on, as well as work together with to accomplish tasks. This is an important concept in UI design, where the focus is on “the intuitive power of language and meaning, using everyday language to communicate with users” (Google, 2018). It became apparent to me early on in the sketching process that it was important to relate to the user through the language that was used in the app, and speak to them through that language.
“Make your contribution such as it is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged”
– Paul Grice, Philosopher of Language & Semantics
User Interface Design
Muted colour palette
Visuals over type/limited type
For people with FASD, particularly children, hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity are important factors to be aware of (Know FASD, 2017). The design must be softer, or at least customizable to the user in order to prevent overstimulation. In the next few pages the colour palette will be more apparent, As well, some individuals may have trouble interpreting visual and spatial information. This makes it difficult for them to understand information, and sometimes individuals lack fine motor skills to operate something like a pen (Know FASD, 2017). This is why the buttons within the app are designed at a larger scale, in order to make operating the app easier.
Goal making as an activity to be done between the user and their mentor during meetings to be followed up on in their own time.
Scheduling within the app, as well as automated notifications and reminders to help prioritize.
Journal to record feelings throughout the week, that can be reflected upon with their mentor at their next meeting.
Difference Game to help relate back to mentor meetings. The Difference Game is a method of pinpointing need for the individual when they are feeling overwhelmed. From the Difference Game, users will be brought to the main Resources Page, which can also be accessed in the users own time, and be used on a regular basis.