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Infinite Transit

A real-time transit guide for autistic adults. 

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Challenge

 

How can we help autistic adults achieve independence when riding public transportation?

Timeline

October - December, 2019 (10 weeks)

Role

Product Designer

Skills

Interaction Design, Visual Design, Ideation, Storyboarding, Prototyping, Research 

Team

Xue (Miki) Bin, Mehul Shah

By providing autistic adults reassurance before and during their transit ride through the use of location-based and contextual guides, we reinforced our users' confidence to ride independently to their destination. 

Product Overview

Contextual Guidebooks

Besides receiving real-time alerts, users can review contextual transit etiquette guides before and during their ride to be better prepared for their transit journey.

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Calling for Help

If in a high-stress situation, users can call for help from other Infinite Transit users, who will respond to the emergency by assisting with their immediate transit issue.

Sharing Experience

After successfully arriving at their destination, users can share their experience by commenting on guidebooks and submitting posts, growing as a community contributor.

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Process

We learned how the mental models of autistic adults require greater contextual information to understand public transit etiquettes, and more importantly, how their misunderstanding of these etiquettes leads to their heightened anxieties and resorting to other modes of transportation. My team and I worked through the design process to address this problem. 

Process

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Problem

"Hey, Cheyenne, limited public transportation resources leave autistic people hesitant to ride on their own. How can we help autistic adults to achieve independence when riding public transit?"

 

Why Autism?

Because Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological cognitive disorder, certain environments or scenarios, like confusing bus routes or delayed bus arrivals, are triggers for people with autism. This leaves autistic individuals anxious and confused about what to do next. Since existing solutions only address an autistic child's challenges, I discovered a gap in the market and an opportunity to help autistic adults navigate a ubiquitous space that everyone relates to but is not always accessible to everyone: transportation.

Problem

Research

Researching academic writings, statistics, participant surveys from online autism communities, and expert interviews with the University of Washington's Autism Center's psychologists and autistic adults, we learned the difficulties users face when riding public transit. 

Formative Research

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Secondary Research.

  • 3.5 million Americans live with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • ½ million autistic people will enter adulthood in the next year

  • Autistic people are constrained by limited transportation resources

    • Paratransit​

    • Transportation Training

    • Relatives Driving

*"I did not know to signal the bus to stop at first. I didn't know if I was supposed to say anything to the bus driver or not. I didn't know that you're not supposed to put your bag on the seat next to you."

— r/autism Reddit User

​Primary Findings and Observations.

  • Many autistic people actively engage and share experiences in online platforms such as Reddit and Twitter

  • In our survey, 67% of participants shared they are relieved once getting off their bus ride

  • Their mental model requires explicit, clear instructions in any scenario

  • Though autistic people may want to give context to other transit passengers, exposing their condition may be uncomfortable

Personas

Sympathizing with our users' need for explicit instructions, we identified a great number of pain points. I narrowed the list to provide a succinct representation of participants' obstacles in their transit journeys to streamline communication between stakeholders.

Persona

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JohnAutistic Adult and Inexperienced Rider

Attributes

  • Fascinated by technology,

  • Easily nervous and disoriented in public settings,

  • Has only ridden the bus 5 times to get home

Goals

  • Wants to reach his new destination,

  • Wants to learn how to ride the bus throughout the city,

  • Wants to independently ride public transit

Pain Points

  • Doesn't know what to expect on his public transit ride,

  • Doesn't know how to ask other passengers for help,

  • Panicked, and doesn't know how to request for the bus to stop

Concepts

Ideation

After identifying the critical pain points, we ideated over 90 different concepts then downselected, storyboarded, and wireframed through three concepts. Afterward, we formulated design principles to utilize as a framework for our future design decisions and as a way of rationalizing the value add we were eager to bring to our users.

After ideation, I held a brainstorming session with my team to understand what users lack from existing transit applications while also reinforcing why independence is critical for our solution.

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Design Principles.

Reassurance

Provide users contextual information of the anticipated experience

Independence

Help users obtain the freedom and ability to travel without assistance

Community Empowerment

Give the autism community their voice to support other autistic adults

Wireframing

After refining our new concepts, we each developed wireframes to represent each user flow. The three flows represent each part of the user's end-to-end journey through contextual guides, gamified tasks, and community forums.

Wireframing

Wireframe sketches by Mehul Shah.

Story Guidebooks

With the need for explicit instructions, users would be able to reference contextual guidebooks before their commute.

Wireframe sketches by me.

Gamified Tasks

With gaming, users can complete tasks through their commute to learn and build memory on what to expect during their transit journey.

Wireframe sketches by Xue (Miki) Bin.

Community Forums

Engaging with the community, users can like, comment, and share posts on and about contextual transit guides.

Usability Testing

We had challenges recruiting participants so we relied on testing with autistic individuals from the online Reddit community while also gathering feedback from family and friends of autistic adults. Continuously learning of their need for explicit information, we reassessed our design response. 

Usability Testing